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INSA 2013 Remarks

Remarks as Prepared
Letitia A. Long
Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
INSA Leadership Dinner
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thank you, Joe, and once again -- congratulations on your selection as the President of INSA.

It is good to be back with my many friends and colleagues here tonight.

In November when I was privileged to speak at the Achievement Awards banquet, I felt so inspired by the six young winners. 

Their superb accomplishments and deep dedication at such a young age challenge us as Senior leaders to nurture the next generation of intelligence professionals.  I stressed then that the growing array of threats and the budget challenges demand that we prepare the next generation to meet these threats.

However, tonight, I am here to issue a very different set of challenges to industry. They not only directly impact your organizations; they also change the basic approach to GEOINT analysis.

Two years ago, NGA reached a crossroads with our new vision of “Putting the Power of GEOINT in Your Hands.”  As Robert Frost so eloquently noted, the road we chose has made all the difference.  

One road was the safe road – the traditional two-lane road of product-focused and target-centric maps, images, and reports.  But we knew that was a road to irrelevance already surpassed by the Internet, advanced technologies, and the explosion in social media.

Instead, we chose to rapidly build a new geospatial superhighway that creates the 21st century foundation upon which the other intelligence disciplines can be layered.

That choice to build this new highway is making all the difference in how we:

    • Collect and process data,
    • Analyze the data to understand the world, and
    • Use GEOINT to give the decisive advantage to policy makers, warfighters, intelligence professionals and first responders.

I challenge you to join us in this vital endeavor.  I urge you to change your fundamental view of NGA and our rapid transformation—Who we are, what we do, how we do it, why it is happening, what it means to you – our industry partners – and how we need you to help us.

We are not your parents’ combat support agency. We are an integrated content and service provider that provides decision space to our mission partners.

We are building with a sense of urgency because our customers and partners are demanding it to help solve their most critical problems.

For example, General Keith Alexander, the head of CYBERCOM and the Director of NSA, has challenged NGA to “visualize” cyber.  

We have accepted that challenge and are using advanced multi-INT fusion and GEOINT techniques – called activity based intelligence – ABI – to answer the General’s call and give CYBER COMMAND deeper insights for their strategic, operational, and tactical planning.

We are depicting cyber in the physical domain and connecting the “bits and the bytes” with the “bricks and mortar.”

With our customers’ imperatives in the forefront of our mind, we have accelerated our efforts to achieve our goals:

This time of declining budgets is also a great motivator to review our business plan and focus our resources on areas where we have a competitive advantage. 

We also recognize that the fundamental nature of information – and the impact of that change on intelligence –compels us to transform as well.

The many new types of data and the surging volume of that data are staggering.  Consider that every day, according to Forbes magazine, the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.  The amount of data created PER YEAR in the 1990s is created in 60 SECONDS today.

The data comes from everywhere—billions of social media posts, digital pictures and videos, and cellphone GPS signals.

They come from traditional data about natural and manmade physical features and the increasing flood of data from new persistent GEOINT sources:

    • Advanced national and commercial satellite imagery,
    • Hyperspectral and multispectral sources,
    • Full motion video from manned and unmanned airborne platforms,
    • Human geography data and more.

In other words, the Age of Big Data is cascading upon us.

And all of it – everything has a time and a place — the “where,” the “what,” and the “when.” That data alone makes it rich for geospatial intelligence exploitation. 

NGA’s analysis goes far beyond these basics and helps the decision maker understand the “why” and anticipate the “what’s next.”

The insight—the value—that GEOINT provides is why we say that GEOINT is the foundation upon which all intelligence can be layered.

So our challenge—for NGA, our industry partners, and the Community—is how we go from Big Data to Big Value - that is, squeezing from the data the most meaningful insights that GEOINT can provide to any customer about any issue.

And since most people are “visual learners,” one of the secrets to mastering the “Big Data” challenge is NGA’s ultimate strength – visualization.

Visualization is key to unlocking the complexities and valuable insights we often find in “Big Data.”

To gain these insights and provide “Big Value,” NGA is leading the drive to build true intelligence integration by achieving the NGA Strategy.  Our Vision, Goals, and Strategy are tightly aligned to drive integration across the Community.

Like the components of a superhighway, our seven strategic objectives are interrelated and interdependent.  Each also constitutes a major element of our “Big Value” strategy, and each makes a vital contribution to the integrated thoroughfare we are building.

Ellen McCarthy, in her role as NGA Chief Operating Officer, is charged with completing this highway so we achieve our transformation as quickly as possible.  She and I share the same strong sense of urgency.

Future with Activity Based Intelligence
Through our strategy, we will manage the flood of “Big Data” with our open IT environment integrated with the IC Information Technology Enterprise – IC-ITE, the virtual and physical infrastructure.  We will provide online, on-demand access to all of our GEOINT content—
NGA’s rapidly growing stores of “Big Data.  We will make it easily discoverable, accessible, and usable through our three-tiered Customer Service Model.

However, we cannot deliver “Big Value” with our traditional target-centric, product-focused approach to analysis.  Rather, we must implement an Activity Based Intelligence – ABI – approach so we can collaborate more widely, understand more deeply, and discover more vital information.

ABI is a fundamental shift in our analytic strategy.  The targets and threats we face today are no longer stable, predictable or so slow-moving that we can gradually build insight with traditional intelligence techniques.

ABI’s cutting-edge tradecraft and technologies allows analysts to fuse data from multiple sources and disciplines.

ABI reveals what we don’t know and helps us find what doesn’t want to be found – the unknown-unknowns.

A dynamic integrated cycle, it allows us to become more predictive and anticipatory, build models of adversary behaviors, detect emerging threats, and prevent surprise.

Ultimately, the goal is to give decision makers what they value most - decision space. That is, our “Big Value” gives them deeper understanding and sufficient warning to make the best possible choice in a crisis or conflict. 

Visualization Critical to GEOINT
And to maximize the usefulness and impact of this deeper value, NGA is harnessing the power of visualization--our ability to expose and display meaningful patterns, trends, and correlations from the masses of “Big Data.”

Visualization creates interactive, multi-dimensional, geospatially based models of complex data.

These models combine the explosion of “Big Data” with the “Big Value” of GEOINT analysis and sophisticated visualization tools to enable game-changing decision making.

Imperatives for Industry
And we cannot do any of this alone. We need your help to partner with us to meet our challenges. You have the innovative technologies. You know the trends in new products and services. You see the possibilities.

In closing, I want to stress four imperatives:

    • Intelligence integration. Not just IC ITE and JIE, but all aspects that the DNI and DoD Senior leadership have identified as essential to our future success.
    • Advanced analytics. Automated collection, watching and searching.  Open standards and standardized content stores. Transparent multi-INT fusion. Continuous improvement of the ABI approach.
    • Visualization tools and techniques that encourage quick, accurate, meaningful graphic portrayals of key insights.
    • And last and most important – the workforce.  I look to industry to not only continue to provide the best available contract talent. I also challenge the leaders here to take personal responsibility for mentoring and stewarding the next generation of leaders.  

As the six young INSA award winners demonstrated in November, young analysts are ready to lead us into our future.  And we must train, mentor, and encourage them.

These difficult times require great people to take bold actions.  NGA is building the new GEOINT superhighway that turns “Big Data” into “Big Value” on a solid foundation for true intelligence integration.

I invite you to take the bold action. Join us on the road less traveled and build this new highway together.  It will make all the difference to our national security.

Thank you.