Analysts (yes, analysts!) develop apps on the fly

Analysts (yes, analysts!) develop apps on the fly

Despite the increased desire for automation in networked systems and decision making, top government officials usually value the insights of people above all else.  And in what National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Susan Gordon lauded as an amazing feat, this week a group of Hackathon participants created seven application for NGA in just eight hours.

Six teams, consisting of members from NGA, European Command, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Naval Surface Warfare Office and the Naval Oceanographic Office participated in a Feb. 22 app challenge hosted by Esri and NGA. 

"And they were all analysts, not developers," Gordon told an audience at the Esri conference on Feb. 25.   “Think about what that releases in terms of how quickly we can ask and answer questions.”

One of the apps developed by an NGA analyst, Gordon told the audience, is a business intelligence dashboard for maritime chart production and analysis.  The team integrated business analytics,  mapping and real-time updates, she explained, and NGA leadership is already examining how to leverage this capability to support decision-making on resource prioritization. 

And while Gordon praised the speed with which such innovations could be put to work -- contrasting it with the months and years it can often take government to identify, procure and implement systems -- she said it also reflected a shift in the challenges facing NGA and other GIS users.

"We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to content today," Gordon said.  Collecting and creating geodata used to be the hard part, but now it's a matter of finding ways to make sense of it all.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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