COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.–The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) is at a critical moment that its director called a “seismic shift:” an explosion of data outside the government’s control, radical advances in enterprise capacity and a need for NGA employees to master new methods and tradecraft.
NGA Director Robert Cardillo said April 14 here at the National Space Symposium (NGA) in addition to the growth of data outside the government’s control, “darkening skies” of small satellites, global expansion of social media and the “internet of things” have created enormous new sources of content and capabilities that will allow NGA to achieve virtual persistence over critical areas.
Radical advances in cloud technology, automated “big data” analysis and network integration, Cardillo said, will allow NGA to create and leverage new analytic methods. He said the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) must succeed for these advances to reach their full potential. With these methods and tradecraft, he said, analysts will develop deeper insights into global crises and deliver them to decision makers more quickly.
Cardillo said a third phenomenon driving the seismic shift is people: NGA, he said, must transform outdated government processes and encourage people to master new methods. NGA also needs a better flow-through of talent and experience, he said.
Cardillo also laid out NGA’s five priorities moving forward. He said NGA’s first priority is investing in a near-real-time, small satellite-based analytic system that continuously streams data from from hundreds of platforms, pre-analyzes content and delivers change–all within minute of collection. This process of accelerating data to answers, he said, will help the agency realize the potential of “fast data.”
NGA’s second priority, Cardillo said, is sensors, systems, algorithms and tools that combine the full electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, open sources and integrated intelligence in real time in a geospatial complex. He said NGA will build a self-organizing enterprise to replace the traditional collection process–with continuous feedback, collaboration and integration among sensors, automated processors, advanced analytics and analytic models.
Cardillo said the small satellite constellation will provide true global coverage by continuously imaging thousands of facilities and activities across countries and continents. A major part of this effort, he said, will be ensuring the success of the intelligence community (IC) information technology enterprise.
NGA’s third priority is fully leveraging non-traditional sources, especially open sources and non-NGA geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) content and integrating them continuously in real-time with all of its other capabilities. Cardillo said NGA must do this throughout the day, night, in all weather conditions and every day of the year across the spectrum of sensors.
Embracing and trusting secure automated systems throughout the environment is NGA’s fourth priority, Cardillo said. These systems, he said, will be driven by learning-based analytic models and state-of-the-art collection platforms. NGA’s fifth priority is transforming NGA’s GEOINT cadre by recruiting, retraining and retaining technically savvy GEOINT professionals to work in a host of transformed occupations.