Home Geospatial Applications Miscellaneous NGA builds irreversible momentum: Long

NGA builds irreversible momentum: Long

San Antonio, US: “We have irreversible momentum in what we have started here. The demand for GEOINT is rising, and it will continue to rise. We are delivering and we are continuing to deliver,” Letitia A. Long, Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) told GEOINT 2011 Symposium attendees. Continuing her GEOINT 2010’s talk of putting GEOINT power into the hands of users, she offered a progress report on the past year and demonstrated some of the many apps the agency is working on.

Long began by explaining the framework for how she measures progress by the agency, which takes into account content, the open IT environment, customer service and analytic depth. She also explained her three level model for the delivery of services, which includes self service, assisted service and full service. “Increasingly our users are GIS savvy. They want to be able to serve themselves for the things that make sense,” she said, adding that that approach frees up analysts to be “focused on the ‘so what’ and develop new analytic tools.”

The bulk of Long’s remarks, however, were devoted to explaining and demonstrating some of the apps NGA is working on. In the area of humanitarian relief and disaster response, for example, she explained how a new app had already helped the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other first responders deal with the devastation caused by the recent Hurricane Irene.

Traditionally, she said, the agency prints disaster atlases of maps and imagery for those travelling to the scene. NGA analysts can produce 200 pages of documents an hour, which then are printed, bound and shipped. A typical disaster may involve 200,000 pages of material. “Sometimes we can be the bottleneck,” she acknowledged. “So we started working on a suite of applications for FEMA as Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the East Coast. We thought, what better way to test our apps than to deploy with a bunch of mobile devices. So that’s what we did.” Instead of printing atlases, NGA used an app that enabled analysts to produce the equivalent of 6,000 pages an hour on a mobile device once the information was loaded in.

“We came up with a simple application to allow entry of data from the field,” Long said. “You put in your location and time, and the key attributes you want to get back to headquarters. Now everyone has access to the information. You don’t have to go back to the command post to get the information in. It also shows up on the base map.

As for providing support to military forces, Long described a flight she had taken on a military aircraft the day before from Washington, D.C., to San Antonio. She noted that NGA’s mission includes preparing pre-flight information materials for military aircraft. Currently, that involves printing vast quantities of materials—10 million books and charts in 2010, at a cost of USD 20 million a year.

With an app, she said, “I think I have a better, cheaper and faster way of doing that. You can just pull up a chart and have it at your fingertips and have all the information in one place. It’s going to save us and the military services a lot of time and money.”

Looking ahead, Long offered these thoughts: “In support to military planning and ops, I’d like to move from a data poor to a data rich environment. I’d like to be able to build and provide apps for our military forces for operations, with secure mobile devices, and experiment and use different types of information.”

“For integrated GEOINT analysis, it really is the continuation of using all of our traditional and nontraditional sources so that we are creating new value, and focusing on the key intelligence questions,” she said. “We will also do all of this while we are focused on gaining efficiencies, and while we are embedded in our mission partners’ footprints, forward with our fighting forces. We will continue to partner with industry and academic partners, the National System for Geospatial-Intelligence and our international partners.”

Source: KMI Media Group