• NGA’s Technology Focus Areas

    The Vision of the Future

    Enabling stronger partnerships between NGA, industry, academia, and other government and community partners around emerging geospatial technologies

Purpose

Enabling stronger partnerships

The NGA Technology Focus Areas enable stronger partnerships between NGA, industry, academia, and other government and community partners around emerging geospatial technologies. It describes five primary themes for NGA’s focus on planned technology investments, outlines NGA’s enduring and future technology needs in these areas, and describes how industry can collaborate with NGA to meet these needs:

  1. Advanced analytics & modeling
  2. Data management
  3. Modern software engineering
  4. Artificial intelligence
  5. Future of work
An image repeating the 2020 themes.

Focus Area Details

  • Advanced Analytics & Modeling
    Advanced Analytics & Modeling

    Advanced Analytics and Modeling Icon

    Advanced analytics and modeling enable the discovery, assessment, understanding, measurement, enrichment, and use of geospatial data from around the world. The analytical capabilities of today’s global GEOINT enterprise continue to build a rich foundation of unstructured and structured information in multiple dimensions and formats. Driven by the availability of geospatial data and the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), emerging machine-assisted processes, and access to the right mix of computing hardware are shaping the future of the GEOINT mission.

    NGA analysts need to create mission-focused models that describe knowledge about an intelligence topic in a machine-readable format. These object- and relationship-centric models will allow analysts to identify collection opportunities, process and characterize multiple sources of GEOINT data, and monitor and infer activity and outcomes. An effective knowledge model will also enable analysts to create and test analytical hypotheses and conduct predictive and anticipatory analysis. These advancements will help NGA get the best product to the warfighter faster.

    NGA’s Technology Focus Areas are shaped by analytical expertise monitoring enduring threats, assessing emerging issues through activity-based intelligence, and conducting extensive research on long-term intelligence topics. To address the increasing complexity of today’s challenges and prepare for the imperative of future power competitions, NGA is investing in advanced analytical and visualization capabilities. Incorporating augmented and virtual reality systems and 3D gaming technologies has the potential to unlock the ability of GEOINT professionals to synthesize incoming data that is ever-growing in scale and complexity and to produce new intelligence products for the warfighter. NGA’s specific needs in this area include:

    Analytical Monitoring: NGA analysts need to conduct model-driven assessments of activities, the associated indicators, and their interrelationships across multiple domains to generate deterministic or probabilistic estimates of events.

    Activity Monitoring: NGA analysts need to conduct model-driven assessments of activities, the associated indicators, and their interrelationships across multiple domains to generate deterministic or probabilistic estimates of events.

    Knowledge Monitoring: NGA analysts need a way to describe an intelligence topic or challenge in order to process activity-based data for localization,characterization, correlation, and tracking of objects.

    Insights-as-a-Service: NGA analysts need geospatial web services that feed analytic, detection, and monitoring insights into existing workflows to more quickly derive intelligence value from GEOINT.

    Supplier Capability Evaluation: NGA source strategy analysts need decision aids to: 1) automatically evaluate the range of geospatial data supplier content and services available; and 2) recommend the optimal supplier offerings to effectively and efficiently satisfy needs based on cost, timeliness, and performance parameters.

    Immersive Product Generation: NGA analysts need the ability to build immersive geospatial intelligence products for augmented and virtual realitysystems to support their customers’ evolving needs.

    Analytic Suggestion Service: NGA analysts need a user-friendly, machine assisted modeling capability able to recommend statistical approaches based on observed workflow data, to ensure they are aware of analytical options thatmay be of use.

    Contextual Learning: NGA teams need extended reality tools in order to leverage abstract information for intelligence products and training material.

    GEOINT Political Sciences: NGA researchers need advancements in technology to improve the terrestrial/celestial reference frame, gravity, magnetics, manmade and natural feature extraction/attribution, and bathymetric, topographic, and infrastructure models in order to improve its ability to model the physical Earth.

  • Data Management
    Data Management

    Data Management Icon

    The creation and dissemination of GEOINT data, products, and services allows users to answer questions such as “What’s happening where?” and “What could happen when?” Observation data sets of the Earth’s physical and cultural characteristics — including elevation, bathymetry, gravity, and human geography — enable the GEOINT community to orient, decide, and act faster than ever before, and geospatial data is now viewed as an important commodity with universal demand across an ever-increasing marketplace.

    The rapid advancement of technology and the increasing density of interconnected devices and sensors has led to an explosion of geospatial data from sources with diverse organizational schemas and security requirements. Data vary in source, quality, reliability, format, and transmission method and include diverse collectionmethods, such as space-based satellites, airborne platforms, maritime vessels, foreign governments, and open sources.

    The following technology needs demonstrate the increasing demand for timely and agile integration of new data management technologies. Capable of operating on a global scale, force-multiplied, and augmented through innovative data synthesis and visualization, NGA’s data management infrastructure will serve the agency’s evolving geospatial digital business model. Our specific needs in this area include:

    Data Integration: NGA analysts need the ability to rapidly discover and integrate diverse data types and multiple types of pixel and non-pixel-based data from multiple sources to discover and characterize relevant patterns.

    Multi-Domain Data Aggregation: NGA analysts need to rapidly aggregate diverse data types and schemas from sources across multiple domains to quickly extract intelligence at scale.

    Location-Based Insights: NGA analysts need to integrate large amounts of data from commercial location-based services into existing workflows to improve their spatial and temporal insights about the physical environment.

    Multi-Dimensional Data Management: NGA systems engineers need to organize and store geospatial information in data models that reflect temporal currency in order to produce more comprehensive intelligence products.

    Automated Object Validation: NGA analysts need a way to automatically distinguish between multiple observations of the same object and observations of similar objects to validate the accuracy of imagery-based observations.

    Terrain Elevation Data Alignment: NGA analysts need to align standard foundation terrain elevation data sets from different geodetic approximation models, such as ellipsoid, spheroid, and geoid, in order to be imported into 3D gaming platforms.

    Customer Experience Metrics: NGA data scientists need a way to identify how and where NGA products, services, and data are utilized in order to identify customers and measure the impact on their missions.

    Releasability Service: NGA needs an access control mechanism that considers geospatial and temporal restrictions in order to secure sensitive information within data objects.

    Automated Conditioning Service: NGA needs the ability to automate data conditioning for easy and accurate metadata tagging so that data is discoverable and accessible by the enterprise.

    Entity Relationship Modeling: NGA analysts need to conflate the ontologies, schema, and knowledge graphs of multiple non-pixel data sets and model the relationships between them.

    Machine Learning Training Data: NGA scientists need analysis-ready, structured, and validated data sets to support dynamic algorithms and model development that is repeatable and auditable for new and existing use cases.

    Multi-Domain Data Transfer: The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated how quickly NGA analysts need to transfer data between multiple security classification domains to exploit all the geospatial data relevant to an intelligence problem.

    Data Integrity: NGA analysts need the capability to automatically identify the source, format, and transmission method of data to assess its potential risk.

    Data Assurance: NGA analysts need a scalable and interoperable way to continuously evaluate data provenance through its lifecycle so that they can make informed decisions about how all data sources can be used by the enterprise.

    Capabilities & Data Protection: NGA systems engineers need a way to safeguard geospatial capabilities and data against malicious alteration and machine generated errors.

    Reliable Commercial & Publicly Source Data: NGA analysts need to determine the “fitness of data” from commercial and public sources so they can be used in GEOINT data, products, and services.

    Automated Content Classification: NGA analysts need the capability to automatically classify natural language content in accordance with security protocols in order to minimize misclassification and to dynamically and more easily share information.

  • Modern Software Engineering
    Modern Software Engineering

    Modern Software Engineering Icon

    To build the level of software NGA requires to perform its mission, NGA needs modern software engineering practices and environments. New software approaches are creating efficient ways for NGA’s government, military, and contractor teams to deliver the services and capabilities necessary for supporting the GEOINT mission. Investments in a robust development platform, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes, and shared development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) tools enable NGA software engineers to quickly build and iterate on software. The agency is enhancing its infrastructure to support greater unclassified collaboration and increase execution speed, while lowering risks and costs.

    NGA is lowering the barriers to entry as part of our effort to empower the builders and makers of geospatial technology. Modern development practices enable teams to rapidly build, test, and deploy capabilities to the enterprise that have been built with users at each step in the process. Enhancements, such as a software application reference architecture, will support all application development, and an API-first approach (Application Programming Interface) will unlock more rapid integration with and reuse of existing services. Improved visibility and testing of the software supply chain will enable open source software to be more widely and easily used and allow NGA to embrace open source innovation.

    NGA’s software engineering technology needs are driven by an infrastructureas- code approach. Whether on-premises, at the edge, or in one or more cloud environments, NGA is working to ensure that software development and security practices meet the requirements of our internal and external builders and makers. Our specific needs in this area include:

    Authority to Operate Automation: NGA software engineers need tools to ensure the automation of security hardening and vulnerability assessment. Software application authority-to-operate (ATO) must be reciprocal across a multicloud architecture so that engineers can rapidly deploy software to the enterprise.

    Automated Monitoring: NGA site reliability engineers need a way to automatically understand which applications are currently up or down and be able to rapidly respond to issues so that they can increase IT system availability, resilience, and security.

    Automated Testing & Deployment: NGA software engineering teams need the ability to run automated tests when code is checked in and to be able to automatically deploy that code to various environments and networks when appropriate, without causing downtime or impacting mission critical processes.

    DevSecOps Automation: NGA software engineers need a development and integration platform that automates enterprise policies and observability of new application performance to reduce the time to deployment and increase the quality of code.

    Software Supply Chain Transparency: NGA system engineers need to identify and programmatically track the provenance of all imported software so they can determine how it can be used and what security procedures are required.

    Identity & Access Management: NGA needs effective and reliable identity and access management (IAM) mechanisms to increase the security of and access to applications and data repositories.

    Rapid Deployment of Unclassified Code: NGA analysts need to pull software developed in unclassified settings to sensitive networks and rapidly determine where such software can be deployed across the enterprise to more effectively leverage uncleared developer talent.

    Development Environment for 3D Data: NGA developers need a development environment to build software applications to analyze multidimensional spatial data sources and integrate into the enterprise

  • Artificial Intelligence
    Artificial Intelligence

    Artificial Intelligence Icon

    A revolution in geospatial artificial intelligence is driving the urgent technology needs of the GEOINT community. Built on a modern software environment and data management framework, AI is a necessary force-multiplier for advanced analytics and modeling capabilities. Machine-assisted technologies, such as computer vision, endeavor to automatically detect, extract, and attribute features and objects in imagery and video. Geospatial AI will be needed to support and expand our intelligence professionals’ depth and coverage. Conventional approaches have had limited success due to very limited training data and lack of color and texture in many existing geospatial datasets.

    NGA’s needs for high confidence in artificial intelligence and understanding of the generated output under varying conditions are supported by the larger DoD and IC communities. Under the Department of Defense’s ethical principles of AI, machine-assisted processes will be responsible in their development, deployment, and use; equitable with minimal unintended bias; transparent and auditable; reliable through extensive testing; and governable throughout the lifecycle. NGA’s specific needs in this area include:

    Machine Learning Model Explainability: NGA analysts need the ability to assess the fitness for use of complex machine learning modeling algorithms in order to ensure understanding by human subject matter experts.

    Risk Assessment: NGA analysts need to calculate the risk level of a piece of software by estimating its complexity and potential impact so that users can apply the right level of governance.

    Activity Contextualization: NGA analysts need to extract and correlate tracks of activity from non-imaging sources, such as radio frequency and automatic tracking system data, with more traditional geospatial data, such as imagery, to contextualize changes in an area of interest.

    Object Detection: NGA analysts need to detect objects and changes in an image with little or no description in order to assess movement or changes to features.

    Feature Extraction: NGA analysts need to extract geospatial data feature geometries and their attributes with the highest measure of accuracy and speed from various sources in order to reduce labor-intensive manual extraction hours.

    Object Classification: NGA analysts need to categorize detected objects at a broad level of organization or feature, and to further classify within that category.

    Feature Characterization: NGA analysts need to automatically characterize the attribution information of extracted foundation geospatial data in order to build upon the knowledge recorded from previous recognition, identification, and classification of objects with the highest level of specificity.

    Quantum Computing for Geospatial Optimization: NGA analysts need a hybrid quantum computing approach that combines classical and quantum computing to solve complex, multivariable geospatial optimization problems.

  • Future of Work
    Future of Work

    Future of Work Icon

    The future of work at NGA requires the amplification of humanmachine partnerships and a more productive and collaborative workforce. Increasing the efficiency and ability of NGA’s internal elements to work better together — across classifications — will amplify the intelligence products that we can provide to NGA’s customers.

    This will include: acquiring tools that enable real-time collaboration across a team’s physical or organizational location; permitting secure work using open source data in uncleared spaces; creating visualization tools that enable work with multidimensional data; and identifying and implementing tools that automate and adapt to specific workflows and tasks.

    NGA is committed to ensuring our workforce remains agile, connected, and able to respond to mission and customer needs, regardless of where they are globally. We need partners who can assist us in streamlining and automating common work processes — processes that that vary broadly from GEOINT collection management to analytics to integrating tools that enable access and the use of data despite evolving security protocols. Our specific needs in this area include:

    Maximizing Real-time & Remote Collaboration: NGA employees need tools that allow them to coordinate and collaborate in real time across multiple devices, security domains, and geographic locations.

    Multi-Domain & Multi-Partner Collection Management: NGA collection managers need to coordinate the planning and execution of GEOINT collection missions with ad hoc and virtual teams across multiple security domains and partnerships.

    Flexible & Secure Work Tools: NGA teams need tools to work securely in unclassified and flexible workspaces in order to provide continuous access to data and mission work, while still adhering to location and security protocols.

    Secure Cross-Domain Access: NGA engineers need to protect and run sensitive queries on networks with lower security levels so that they can leverage unclassified web services for sensitive analysis.

Collaboration Tools

Here are some tools NGA uses:

Broad Agency Announcements

BAAs are used to solicit innovative ideas on basic and applied research. NGA uses BAAs to fulfill our requirements for scientific study and experimentation directed toward increasing knowledge and advancing the art of the possible. These are normally posted on SAM and/or the ARC.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA)

A CRADA is a low-risk, flexible, mutually beneficial opportunity to partner on a joint research and development project (R&D). Although this option does not provide funding, NGA and the partner can share resources, such as personnel, facilities, equipment, data, and intellectual property.

For additional information: Contact
CRADA@nga.mil

Other Transactions Authority (OTA)

An OTA is a flexible acquisition tool to prototype projects that enhance the mission effectiveness of the DoD. Upon successful completion of a prototype, OTAs offer the option to award follow-on production.

For additional information: Contact
OTA@nga.mil

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

NGA takes part in DoD’s SBIR program to fund early-stage R&D projects at small technology companies — projects that serve a DoD need and have the potential for commercialization in private sector and/or military markets.

For additional information: Contact
SBIR@nga.mil

Educational Partnering Agreements (EPA)

EPAs include partnerships with academic institutions and non-profits on curriculum development, prize competitions, and mentorship opportunities. These agreements bring the power of crowdsourcing to NGA’s most difficult problems.

For a sample of past NGA Challenges
www.challenge.gov >>> search ‘NGA.’

For additional information: Contact
prize_competition@nga.mil

Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program (IGAPP)

IGAPP servesas NGA’s method to work with innovative app developers on providing useful apps and web services for consumers of GEOINT data.

For additional information:
https://igapp.com/about/us

Contact Us

We have offices that can help with some specific opportunities to work with NGA. For more information, please feel free to reach out to any of the following:

Small Business Office

You must complete a SAM Small Business Profile for Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) at
https://web.sba.gov/pro-net/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm
before reaching out to NGA.

If you need specific assistance on an existing contract, contact
smallbusiness@nga.mil.

NGA Industry Engagement

If you are interested in providing a demo of your capability, contact
IndustryEngagement@nga.mil.

NGA Research

For outreach regarding GEOINT research opportunities, please contact NGA Research at
nga_research@nga.mil.

Warfighter Support

For Tactical Edge GEOINT solutions, please contact us at
NGA-WarfighterSupport@nga.mil.