NGA looks to open source to improve access, better analysis

Building better intelligence a function of shared information, director says

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency continues to integrate intelligence capabilities by focusing on getting useful applications to users and pushing toward a more open IT environment, the agency's director said Oct. 17.

That increased accessibility is critical to sharing information, whether in military operations or in disaster response efforts, and also enables the intelligence community to achieve better, deeper analysis, according to Letitia Long, director of the NGA. Long spoke at the GEOINT Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

“When our content is easily accessible, when it’s usable within an open environment and with a different delivery model – those three [capabilities] are going to help us get to deeper analytics. We free up the time of our analysts to be focused on the ‘so what?' to be focused on the context, experiment with the new sensor data and the new phenomena, developing new analytic tools and techniques,” Long said. “That’s the framework within which I’ve been measuring our progress over the last year.”

According to Long, agency analysts’ ability to “think spatially and depict visually” positions the agency to lead the way toward intelligence collaboration within an open-source environment between all mission partners. That ability is driving NGA to transform the way it provides geospatial intelligence, she said.

Also, NGA’s work in open-source collaboration could be especially helpful for military operations, Long said.

“I’d like to move from a data poor to a data rich environment. I’d like for us to be able to build and provide those apps for our military forces, for military operations with secure mobile devices…and experiment and use different types of information,” Long said. “For integrated geo-analysis, it really is the continuation of using all of our traditional and non-traditional sources so that we are creating new value, so that we are focusing on the key intelligence questions.”

Long stressed that sharpening analytic capabilities is a core capability she wants, including by “driving out the art of the possible” and capitalizing on multi-source intelligence.

“We need to be pushing the boundaries each and every day. It is not simply about reading out imagery and putting remarks in a data base; that’s important and we will always do that,” she said. “But [asking ‘why?’] is more important, more interesting. What is the other associated information that we can add to that to provide more context, so that our mission partners can contribute to that and share their information? We are doing [geospatial intelligence] in an all-source environment.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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