(Editor’s Note: This fall, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency released a flurry of news announcements covering the Ebola outbreak, key contracts, the Map of the World project and software. Summaries appear below.)
NGA Maps Bolster Ebola Fight
NGA has released a public-facing website (https://nga.maps.arcgis.com/home) to assist U.S. and international relief efforts to combat the spread of the Ebola virus, providing unprecedented online access to its unclassified geospatial intelligence in support of lead federal agencies and partners.
NGA’s efforts add important value to the support offered by other organizations, including the All Partners Access Network (APAN), which provides community spaces and collaborative tools to the Department of Defense and mission partners to leverage information to effectively plan, train and respond to mission objectives.
“The dynamic site provided by NGA allows the agency to automatically federate its geospatial content, which is then used by organizations such as APAN for mission-related efforts,” said agency Director Robert Cardillo.
The agency’s focus on unclassified support to the crisis allows its content to be available with no caveats or limits in distribution. Because of the large number of non-governmental organizations involved in the relief effort, NGA has had to take a different approach to disseminating unclassified information so the people who need NGA’s information on the crisis have it.
The dynamic site uses Esri’s ArcGIS Platform hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services. The site features various base maps that provide foundational context for users, who will then have the ability to visually overlay public NGA data and ingest open-source data. NGA’s data can provide logistical information relevant to the situation on the ground affected by the Ebola crisis.
NGA’s first exposure of data includes geospatial layers relevant to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, including cultural places and structures, as well as communication, electric power and ground transportation infrastructure. For example, Ebola cases by province and locations of emergency treatment units will be visually accessible for users to ascertain the distance from a certain airfield to the closest emergency treatment unit.
Laying the Foundations
NGA has announced a total of 10 contracts awarded to eight companies over the past year and a half to provide support to the agency’s foundation geospatial intelligence. Foundation data makes up the basic layer for NGA operations to successfully meet the challenges of today’s requirements and crises, as well as the day-to-day operations of tomorrow.
The acquisitions support NGA’s foundation geospatial intelligence mission and provide data used in the Map of the World. Companies were competitively selected for their innovative solutions to managing foundation geospatial intelligence content. NGA awarded the following contracts and services:
• Geographic Services, which won the five-year, $25 million geographic names and boundaries contract, to provide GEOINT services such as data assessment and temporal and spatial data enabling, data collection and maintenance, emerging data sets and services, and crisis and surge support.
• Boeing, which received the Flight Information Publications (FLIP) aeronautical charts contract, valued at $31 million over four years. The contract provides content management and product finishing support to aeronautical safety of navigation charts used by pilots and navigators around the world.
• Leidos, which won three contracts. The FLIP Aeronautical Text contract, valued at $14 million over four years, provides aeronautical data translations, text finished products, aeronautical source processing services, FLIP DVD, aeronautical application and data delivery for the aerospatial web service in support of critical aeronautical safety of navigation mission requirements.
• The global products and services contract, valued at $39 million over three years, provides global product finishing for navigation planning products; compressed ARC digitized raster graphic/enhanced compressed raster graphic/geo-referenced portable document format finishing services; and emerging products and product dissemination services.
• The foundation geospatial intelligence maritime-Pacific contract, valued at $32 million over four years, provides maritime data content management for digital nautical charts (continual maintenance, data cleanup, vector data update, and new library collection and new source incorporation); sailing directions geo tag; maritime product finishing for standard nautical charts and littoral planning charts; classified and unclassified network connectivity; emerging products, data and services; and crisis and surge support for approximately half the globe for the maritime safety of navigation mission supporting mariners around the world.
• Harris, which won the foundation geospatial intelligence content management Region A contract, which is valued at $334 million over five years. The contract provides content management for features, elevation and human geography requirements; product finishing for topographic, elevation, and controlled imagery requirements; classified and unclassified network connectivity; emerging products, data, and services; and crisis and surge support for U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Northern Command mission requirements.
• Harris also won the foundation geospatial intelligence content management contract for Region C, which is valued at $313 million over five years. The contract provides similar services for U.S. African Command and U.S. Southern Command.
• BAE Systems, which won the foundation geospatial intelligence content management Region B contract, valued at $295 million over five years. The contract provides similar services for U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command.
• CACI, which received the foundation geospatial intelligence maritime-Atlantic contract, valued at approximately $32 million over four years. The contract provides services similar to those under the maritime-Pacific contract.
• Woolpert, which won the commercial airborne contract, valued at $32 million over three years. The contract provides commercial airborne services for data collection, rapid response, and worldwide requirements using LiDAR, four-band and radar sensors.
Accelerating Map of the World
NGA selected five companies to deliver innovative solutions as part of a $2 million challenge to deliver basic or applied research, concept exploration and capability demonstration in challenge areas that accelerate and strengthen the agency’s Map of the World (MoW).
NGA issued the challenge focusing on three areas that will help accelerate the MoW efforts. It received 73 proposals, from which it selected five companies:
Employing link data technology. MapLarge was selected for its proposal to provide a unique, high-performance search, query and visualization engine that can dynamically render and visualize large high-resolution data sets. MapLarge plans to perform rapid pattern analysis using rich interactive visuals supported by a rapid, dynamic visual analytic pipeline. The company will build a prototype to allow analysts interactive exploration of large-scale linked data with real-time queries and visuals of logical and spatial data. ImageMatters was selected for its proposed linked-data strategy addressing the integration of object-based-intelligence with foundation geospatial intelligence. This will enhance NGA’s capability to generate, curate, analyze and share structured OBI as linked data with originating information tracking.
Conflating data from varying sources. Boeing was selected for a proposal to demonstrate the workflows and processes for performing rapid data assessment of foundation GEOINT. This proposal will demonstrate data assessment workflows for NGA’s NextGen production model to determine and enhance the quality and currency of data in Map of the World. Boeing’s workflow focuses on the spatial quality of the data and the completeness and currency of the attribution of all features in MoW.
Developing a framework for user-generated content. SRI International was awarded a contract based on its proposal for a comprehensive user-generated content (UGC) collection that demonstrates key modules and use cases for ingestion, analysis and dissemination framework. SRI proposes to leverage its experience in developing UGC solutions and work closely with NGA to develop a comprehensive framework for exploitation and integration of UGC into the MoW content services.
Data Inc. was selected for proposing a unique implementation approach of UGC to facilitate geospatial, temporal and thematic discovery through 3-D visualization that enhances end-user retention, recall and transfer of data. Its proposal addresses harnessing UGC with real-time information, a resource currently not available to NGA.
Gaming for Staff Achievement
NGA released gamification software code that gives awards or badges to users and operates as a standalone application or can be integrated with other web-based applications to increase learning, processing and output. The code was posted on the agency’s organizational account on GitHub, an open-source, collaborative software development environment.
“Government game development efforts are exponentially on the rise today,” said Director Robert Cardillo. “The current generation of professionals is discovering the collaborative learning power of using games in standard business practices, and the newer generation is already familiar with how these new technologies are powerful learning tools.” NGA’s gamification software also provides a customizable web interface for displaying badges and a configurable rules engine that translates actions performed by users into awards, said Ray Bauer, an NGA IT innovation lead. Incorporating aspects of gaming into day-to-day analysis and activities can inspire new approaches and innovation among all levels of staff, Bauer suggested.
“The use of badging and awards recognizes what achievements matter most based on agency priorities, and rewards the user in the context of their work,” he said. ♦
- Issue: 8
- Volume: 12