Farm Service Agency looks to the cloud for imagery data

The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency is investigating how geospatial imagery data can be delivered via cloud-based Web services.

FSA is seeking information on how integrated Web solutions can support FSA’s 2012-2016 Strategic Plan and the Obama Administration’s Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, according to a request for information published in FedBizOpps.gov.

FSA state and county offices require current imagery to maintain agriculture field boundaries to support many different farm-related programs. FSA contracts for new imagery that is acquired on a three-year cycle under the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), which is managed and distributed by the Aerial Photography Field Office (APFO), FSA officials said.

As part of its IT modernization program, FSA has moved from local storage of geospatial data at the county offices to a thin-client model. In this model, APFO builds Web services, which are used daily by more than 2,000 FSA state and county offices to maintain centralized vector databases and manage farm programs.

FSA currently maintains the hardware and software infrastructure needed to support Web services and is investigating the feasibility of commercial Web-service data solutions -- image collection, data hosting, services provisioning and related services.

FSA officials want to implement a pilot project in 2012 to address the benefits and issues of using commercial solutions. The goal of the pilot project, if executed, will be to seek metrics regarding return on investment and usability versus current imagery acquisition and distribution avenues.

Responses to the RFI are due no later than 4:30 p.m. Mountain time April 18, 2012. All responses should be submitted to the contracting officer, John Mootz; john.mootz@slc.usda.gov; (801) 844-2916.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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