geospatial app (dolphfyn/Shutterstock.com)

NGA’s supply chain for GEOINT apps

To support an increasingly mobile intelligence community, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program  helps commercial developers create applications that meet mission needs of government and defense agencies. Engility manages and operates IGAPP.

“The vendor builds the apps entirely on their own for the most part, but we are providing them with capabilities to help them figure out what the government wants,” John Holcomb, the Engility IGAPP program manager, told GCN.  “I have a whole group of people who are helping these companies understand what data is available, what NGA’s interfaces look like and how to connect the dots,” he said.

Engility also checks source code for each app to look for vulnerabilities in the software.

“We are required to scan the source code and advise vendors on ways to fix their vulnerabilities,” Holcomb said.  “Once they have fixed those issues, we have found that they are likely to add those security components into their commercial products as well.”

Apps developed through IGAPP go into the NGA App Store.

One of the more popular apps in the store is OrbitLogic’s SpyMeSatGov, which provides imaging satellite awareness. Users can see when imaging satellites are about to come over their heads and when they will be able to photograph them on the ground.

The SafeTravelerGlobe app from Optensity provides information on a variety of threats to travelers such as terrorist activities, earthquakes, hurricanes and disease outbreaks.  It can geo-locate users to direct them to the closest embassy or consulate if danger strikes.

For the Navy, there’s Maritime GuardianPro from Sylvain Analytics, which helps ship crews learn about disruptive and hostile activity at sea.  By utilizing NGA’s geospatial tools, ships can map out their routes to avoid pirates or offshore drilling units and report back when charts need to be updated.

Since the apps are not developed through traditional government acquisition models, Holcomb said agencies have access to similar apps with variations, and they can choose which are the most useful.

“The government doesn’t pay the vendors to build the apps; it pays to consume them like a product,” Holcomb said.  “In our case, we could have two or three companies building similar apps, put them all up in the store, and the end user decides which one makes the most sense to download.”

Visit the GEOINT App Store here.

Editor's note: This article was changed June 5 to clarify Engility's name.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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