Image analysis in its current state is mostly performed at the desktop level. In this type of model Geospatial Intelligence (or GEOINT) needs are passed to a set of GIS analysts who retrieve the relevant data, perform the requested analysis, and push the relevant information down range for consumption by those who requested it. Once their task is done, they move on to the next set of GEOINT needs and repeat the process.
There are several drawbacks to this methodology, not least of which is the time delay from the establishment of GEOINT requirements to the actual delivery of the requested information. It takes time to find the correct data, analyze it to a sufficient level, and create and distribute the report to the interested parties. All of this leaves the soldier at a disadvantage during the time they are waiting for their information. Allowing end-users to query and analyze their own data cuts these time delays drastically, putting information into the hands of the soldier more quickly.
The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, or NGA, has made access to GEOINT for all soldiers a major initiative over the next few years. NGA understands that regardless of technical ability, the value of geospatial information can be employed by everyone. This initiative is aimed at providing easy to execute analysis workflows at the hands of non-traditional consumers of GEOINT, particularly those who may be operating on low-bandwidth communication lines. To execute this vision, NGA realizes that there needs to be a set of defined standards by which stakeholders develop these functions.
To oversee the development and adoption of standards, the NGA operates the National Center for Geospatial Intelligence Standards or NCGIS. The NCGIS oversees what’s called the Geospatial Intelligence Standards Working Group, or GWG. The GWG is charged with identifying and implementing the standards needs for the National System for Geospatial Intelligence, or NSG. The NSG is broadly self-defined as “the combination of technology, policies, capabilities, doctrine, activities, people, data, and communities necessary to produce geospatial intelligence in an integrated multi-intelligence, multi-domain environment.” In a nutshell, these folks are defining which standards geospatial technologies need to employ in order to be considered as interoperable with the greater NSG architecture.
The ability for multiple service providers to create and disseminate interoperable functionality slices within the NGA’s architecture for consumption via the NGA GeointAppStore Station provides the down-range soldier with multiple options for the consumption and analysis of GEOINT. By giving soldiers the ability to self-serve GEOINT needs in real-time the NGA allows their end-users the ability to answer mission specific questions that will affect decision making in the field. Often times soldiers are asking questions such as “How many of object X are there?”, or “What can I see from point Y?”. By creating services that provide answers directly related to their mission objectives, the NGA moves one step closer to truly putting GEOINT into the hands of every soldier.
Learn more by watching “Enabling Warfighters with Geospatial Applications”.