mountain view (NGA)

GEOWorks opens NGA data, tools

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced a new data-sharing service to spur public-private development of geospatial solutions.

Unveiled at the recent 2018 GEOINT Symposium in Tampa, Fla., GEOWorks lets users access unclassified geospatial data and tools for building applications. “It’s a much easier way to access and work with NGA’s data,” NGA Director Robert Cardillo said. “Now any U.S. company -- large or small -- or academic institution, or just interested individual can gain access to our data and our tools and build something.”

After users sign in with a account, they can access the beta site's three main areas:

Data:  NGA has loaded GEOWorks with two dozen of its datasets -- plus several open source datasets, Cardillo said in his prepared remarks. Data on agriculture, aviation, humanitarian aid relief, maritime safety and terrain are planned, according to Mitre, one of NGA's partners in the project.

Tools: Currently available is the Data Viewer, an interactive map-driven analysis and visualization of geospatial-temporal data built on OpenSphere GIS web application that supports both 2-D and 3-D views. NGA plans to add Symphony, a platform that lets users rapidly provision secure, cloud-based analytic cells with geospatial, data analysis, visualization and AI tools. Symphony will give users access to Jupyter Notebook, Tensor Flow and other tools, Cardillo said. A forthcoming Data Catalog will help users to tell dynamic mapping stories with Boundless Exchange, an open enterprise content management system.

Opportunities: The first engagement opportunity is a Hack-n-Hunt scavenger hunt to advance open geospatial standards, software and sensor technology for use with portable, disconnected devices. The page will become the primary location to access NGA engagement opportunities, Cardillo said.

The site was built – from concept to launch -- in eight weeks using agile approaches, Cardillo said. "GEOWorks is not just a new website -- it’s a new way we are doing business."

NGA has been working to make its data more widely available. Last year, it launched the Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program to help developers create applications for government and defense agencies. Apps developed through the program go into the NGA App Store for members of the intelligence community. A broader set of integrated services are available to IC and the larger national security community through NGA's GEOINT Services website.

NGA has also ramped up its collaboration efforts with organizations outside the IC. Its disaster response office helped the Federal Emergency Management Agency with geospatial analysis of 2016 flood damage in Texas and Louisiana. The agency has also held challenges to improve its data analysis capabilities, leveraged satellite imagery from commercial providers and made its open source software available on GitHub.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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