The NGA Tearline team was honored with the Intelligence Community Transparency Team of the Year Award during the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency Summit Jan. 24 in Bethesda, Maryland, for their work in enhancing public understanding and access to strategic intelligence.
Through partnerships with non-profit organizations and academia, the team delivered unclassified geospatial intelligence directly to government users and the general public through the mobile Tearline application, accompanying website and syndication to intelligence.gov, a transparency effort from ODNI to more effectively explain the IC mission to the general public.
“The goal was to grow authoritative, open-source intelligence on a range of topics – from strategic to economic to humanitarian – that tend to be underreported in the intelligence world,” said Chris Rasmussen, Tearline product manager and data trading partnership lead. “NGA lacks the time and resources to cover every topic, so we partner smartly to achieve more global coverage with creative outsourcing.”
This open source content serves two purposes, intelligence community product citation and growing public trust, according to Rasmussen.
“What makes this program successful is the mutual benefit for NGA and our partners. By increasing transparency around shared public-private interest, we’re helping bridge the gap between the once closed-off world of intelligence and the public,” said Rasmussen.
The NGA Tearline team’s most recent project highlights North Korea’s railway connections with China and Russia and was developed through a partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a Georgetown University student.
For Tearline’s intelligence projects, NGA functions as a partner, providing access to geospatial data and review of how the content is created, but does not determine what specific content is created, said Rasmussen. This allows content partners full editorial independence.
The Tearline application was released in April 2017, but was initially only available to the intelligence community, Department of Defense and partners. In May 2018 the app and all subsequent Tearline content became publicly available.
What’s next for the Tearline program? More partnerships and intelligence projects, said Rasmussen.
NGA has partnered with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs to create content on China’s One Belt, One Road investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The students benefit by getting publication credit within a brand focused on public service,” said Rasmussen. “It’s more important now than ever to be in the business of producing authoritative content.”
If your non-profit, think tank, or university is interested in creating authoritative content, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org