NGA pathfinder social media explorer tool

NGA opens tools for faster analysis

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which exists to provide agencies with critical and often- classified intelligence, is increasingly driving efforts to share and collaborate on geodata in the open.  The agency has expanded those transparency efforts with the release of eight open-source tools on GitHub.

An NGA spokesperson confirmed the eight projects:

DigitalGlobe Reader is a C++ class that loads TIFF imagery and associated XML metadata files associated with images taken from Digital Globe’s World View 3 satellite.

SWIR signal detection runs a spectral signature comparison between a provided spectral library file and a signature provided by the user.

Social media picture explorer and its user interface use machine learning techniques to help users explore social media by clustering similar images and providing automatic object recognition.

Nounalyzer categorizes the nouns and entities in a RSS feed and displays the results via visualizations so analysts can distill information faster.

Wordpress revision slider modifies a WordPress theme to interactively show a post’s revisions to get readers comfortable with consuming stories written with version control.

Rational polynomial coefficients mapper maps an object's latitude, longitude and altitude to a two-dimensional point.

Spectral library reader reads files in the splib06a spectral reflectance database so users can graph out the spectral reflectances of the materials in a multiband image.

“Transparent source code with strong documentation speaks clearly to industry and academia about what NGA is working on and how to get involved,” said Chris Rasmussen, NGA’s public software development and GEOINT Pathfinder lead.

The GEOINT Pathfinder project, launched in August 2015, helps NGA navigate the competitive world of commercial geospatial intelligence in an unclassified setting.  According to NGA, the project is aimed at answering research questions using unclassified tools, data, information technology and services available from public, or open, sources. 

Rasmussen said he believes that putting this open source coding back into the public sphere is “the right thing to do.” The open source coding community offers a chance to bring on “new partners that traditionally haven’t done business with the government,” he said.  Additionally, all code should “be considered for public release when the government obtains ‘unlimited rights,’ because taxpayers paid for the code in the first place.”

About the Author

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


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected