Government leaders had the opportunity to talk about their agencies’ plans for USGIF’s upcoming GEOINT 2017 Symposium at a GEOINT 2017 Sneak Peek event April 17 in Ashburn, Va. About 100 attendees networked, enjoyed breakfast, and heard from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) Robert Cardillo and Dustin Gard-Weiss as well as Terry Busch of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Cardillo, director of NGA, kicked off the event saying he is looking forward to this year’s Symposium, which will be held June 4-7 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. Cardillo said automation—among many other subjects—is going to be a key topic throughout NGA’s engagements at this year’s event.

“We want to bring in your technology to reduce the human component and elevate analysts to where they should be—looking at not the ‘what’ but the ‘why,’” Cardillo said, addressing the industry partners in attendance.

Like last year, Cardillo said 200 NGA employees would attend the Symposium tasked with specific assignments to learn and report back to the agency. He encouraged NGA employees to not only take advantage of the myriad professional development offerings at the Symposium, but also to visit academia and industry in the exhibit hall with specific problem sets in mind. Cardillo listed several challenges NGA plans to explore at GEOINT 2017:

  • Determining industry views and assumptions on the terms “Observations as a Service,” “Analysis as a Service,” and “Data as a Service.”
  • Exploring what analytics algorithms will best aid NGA analysts.
  • Identifying commercial GEOINT data gaps that prevent the agency from performing at its best.
  • Considering how NGA can de-duplicate its cloud storage and increase cloud operations.
  • Discovering how “Team GEOINT” can improve software management in a virtual computing environment.
  • Exploring how NGA can better integrate machine learning into GEOINT analysis.
  • Identifying what the agency can learn from industry about risk mitigation for the transition from human to partially automated processing and analysis.

The director also spoke about the NGA hackathon that will take place in San Antonio June 3-4 prior to the Symposium. The two-day coding event is one of a series of hackathons NGA is hosting around the country in partnership with Blue Compass to solve agency challenges and reach new talent.

“The hackathons help us better our interaction with the community to find solutions to real problems,” Cardillo said.

Dustin Gard-Weiss, director of NGA’s GEOINT Enterprise Office, described the agency’s plans for its presence in the GEOINT 2017 exhibit hall. Rather than an NGA specific booth, this year the agency will instead have a National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) booth, highlighting its many activities across the community to include NGA, the U.S. military, international partners, and more.

Terry Busch, chief of DIA’s Integrated Analysis and Methodologies Division, reflected on the GEOINT 2016 Symposium. Last year, his team met with industry to decide which technologies to invest in, Busch said, giving Mapbox as an example. Busch said he is planning a similar strategy for GEOINT 2017.

“[The Symposium] is the one event a year [DIA] attends,” Busch said. “We’ll be looking specifically for industry with business models for analytic services.”

GEOINT 2017 attendees will have the opportunity to hear more from these senior leaders. Gard-Weiss will speak at GEOINT Foreword June 4, Cardillo will give a keynote address the morning of June 5, and Busch will appear on the Government Pavilion Stage the afternoon of June 5. View the GEOINT 2017 agenda or register.

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Posted by Lindsay Tilton Mitchell