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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Rob Carey, the Deputy CIO for the Department of Defense and Al Tarasuik, the CIO for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) discussed a fundamentally  transformational effort:  creating a single IT architecture for the intelligence community (IC). The reason? Removing "stovepipes of innovation" … those wonderful islands of information that right now can't exist in the current budgetary climate.

In a question and answer session at the GEOINT symposium Carey and Tarasuik discussed the Joint Information Environment (JIE) to forever change the heterogeneous IT architecture that currently exists. "We are the product of 25 years of innovation of excellence," said Carey. "[It's time to] move to a centralized enterprise approach.

Tarasuik said that the new architecture does not build a lot of new technology. "The technology we will use is already in use in our agencies. It's about consolidation of data centers ... using the cloud but bringing it together for the community instead of in stove pipes," he said.  "The biggest challenge is convincing our overseers is that this fast pace makes sense (i.e. Congress). The big challenge for them is integrating all the components and standing up the infrastructure much of which already has parts in place. Scaling will occur once the initial implementation is in place.

 How do you turn the "stove pipes of innovation" into an enterprise architecture that must serve an organization as large as the federal defense bureaucracy? Tarasuik said, "We have no choice, we need to move in this direction. The budget impetus has caused this to move forward. None of agencies has enough money to handle the requirements on their own. The volume and intensity of data coming in is tremendous; no one agency will be able to handle this on their own.  Lots of moving pieces but things have to turn off so that things converge."

by Joe Francica on 10/09 at 07:01 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

First, Jim Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is a "geo guy." If only more agencies and private companies had his vision there would be little thought as to how much growth the geospatial industry would see.

Second, the man speaks with so much perspicacity. It's unlikely the White House and IC could find anyone who sees with as much vision.

These are only two of my observations from his address at this year's GEOINT Symposium. Although I've heard Clapper many times his remarks were guarded until the question and answer session. Then, he was both direct and at times, defiant. His presentation was given from a prepared statement which was different from past years. He had always spoke extemporaneously. Clearly, he had a lot that he needed to say.

Clapper's prepared remarks focused on three points:

  1. Move from an industry centric IT model to enterprise integration. The ODNI built their budgets around a common IC cloud and an IC desktop (see NGA Director Long's remarks). The goal is for an architecture will be in place and in use by 2018.
  2. Bring SIGINT and GEOINT together in the same time domain and  enable the IC to look at an activity over time and alert the analyst to where the action is.
  3. Security Leaks: there are two separate FBI investigations ongoing  regarding leaks. "We are doing something to stop the hemorrhaging. We in the IC must set the stage for the entire government," said Clapper.

When Clapper finished with his prepared remarks he was much more candid.

On the Need for Commercial Imagery Providers
When asked about the coming merger of DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, his remarks were blunt. "There is no bigger fan of commercial imagery than I. Commercial imagery has tremendous advantages. And a great asset domestically as well. But as I alluded to last year, we have to make a 'risk vs. gain' [assessment] … In a constrained funding environment; choices have to be made.  For what I'm responsible for, we had to make some hard choices based on the demand and the requirements versus what we can afford."

On Sequestration - "The fiscal cliff"
Clapper said that "In short, sequestration will be disastrous for intelligence." He spoke at length the fact that it’s the manner in which it would have to be implemented leaving Clapper no leeway to make cuts as he sees fit. "So we can only hope that the lame duck Congress does something to prevent this from happening," said Clapper. He said that if it does happens it would occur during a time of the most diverse and demanding threats that he has ever seen in his 50 years in service.

On Libya
Clapper was particular pointed in his remarks about the events surrounding the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and the intelligence community's ability to assess the source of the attack. Here are his paraphrased remarks:
"Any event involving loss of life is highly charged emotionally and politically," said Clapper. He went on to identify four things to keep in mind:

  1. Diplomacy is a dangerous line of work
  2. Hindsight is cheap - what does not get routinely noted is that incidents that are not reported and do not occur. One can always construct and after fact case
  3. Resources are limited; threats are not. Total security can not be bought.
  4. Information about lethal incidents is not immediate; we would and should criticize any investigators that make immediate evaluations.
  5. Second guessing does not honor those who died.

A complete video of his presentation is now available. See below.

Continue reading...

by Joe Francica on 10/09 at 06:34 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) director Letitia Long addressed the GEOINT Symposium and announced that her analysts spend too much time looking for data. The NGA and other agencies of the intelligence community (IC) are moving toward a "common IT desktop" being spearheaded by several groups including the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. By March 2013, and in collaboration with the Defense Intelligence Agency and NGA, over 2,000 IC employees will transition to the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) with the goal of 60,000 by March 2014.

 The objective is to enable geospatial analysts to log on from anywhere in the IC to get to data and applications. No more tunneling through networks or finding a computer that belongs to your own agency. This common infrastructure will enable certain efficiencies and to scale exploitation needs as necessary.

Long also wants more collaboration between agencies. Long wants her clients to access data when they need it but also to add back to NGA data sotres when enhancements are made. In return, the NGA is willing to host it and share it back out to the community. The hope is that by exposing content to tens of thousands of users that there will be innovative applications and use cases that are "unthought-of by anyone at NGA today," said Long. But she acknowledges that they have to deal with the data metrics and integrity, and ensure the data quality from others. "We need your help to understand this," says Long.

Long sees certain challenges regarding a compensation model  for those building applications for NGA. Long wants to move to a commercial-based compensation model. "We want developers creating apps speculatively," said Long. The NGA has 150 apps in their app story today and 80% of them are created by NGA personnel. However, Long wants to see at least 75% developed privately next year as a way to embody more innovation.

On sequestration, Long was very direct. "If it happens they way it is set out today it will absolutely be devastating," she said. Longs said that it will allow NGA to manage the risks.  However, putting aside the specter of budget cuts,  her vision is all about being ready for streamlining operations. "[NGA is] all about efficiency and doing things in a more efficient way," said Long. Having one authoritative copy of data is one example. NGA proposes to "Store it once, cut down on storage and take advantage of the open IT environment.

According to a statement release by director Long's office her vision is four-fold:

  • Providing easy, intuitive access to content
  • Implementing an open IT environment to allow data sharing
  • Creating a new delivery model for content and services - self assisted and full service.
  • Deepening analysis that takes advantage of a riher source mix.

So far, according to NGA, 40% of its content stores are available with the goal of 100% by July 2013.

A video of Director Long's remarks are available below.

Continue reading...

by Joe Francica on 10/09 at 08:40 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Today, DigitalGlobe announced a new cloud called "My DigitalGlobe" to enable data to be more discoverable. The new interface is a thin client that conforms to OGC Web Services (OWS) specifications. The objective is to allow users to find relevant data through advanced map-based seaching and browsing.

The typical workflow allows the user to search a specific geographic area using a bounding rectangle and retrieve 10-years of archived DigitalGlobe imagery. A "slider bar" at the bottom of the browser shows a time-scale with thumbnail graphics of the image library. The user can retrieve imagery at any point along that timeline and then download any individual image to a specific format such as GeoPDF. Metadata is included in the download. A unique featuer of the service is that alerts can be set to notify a user when a new image is added to the library of a specific area of interest. The user would receive either an email or the alert is retrievable as an RSS feed.

The service provides access to more than 200 million Km2 of imagery.

by Joe Francica on 10/09 at 05:30 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to the Association of American Geographers to conduct collaborative transatlantic research initially by geography educators in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Finland. There are two components:

  • The first component is an international comparative analysis of national geography standards, teacher preparation curricula and practices within the U.S., U.K., and Finland to determine how standards address the capabilities of students. 
  • The second project component will design and implement a workshop convening geography professors and recent graduates from pre-service teacher education programs in the U.S. and the EU.

No word on the value of the grant.

- press release

Mingo is a new app, currently in open beta, developed by PeoplesApp, a group of University of British Columbia students and alums. It's a school focused location based messaging/broadcast solution designed to better integrate students into the community.

So far there are 2000 users and Twitter and Facebook intergration are on the list for the future. Also on the list: expanding the app to other schools. The app is free.

- Ubussey (student newspaper)

tweets to me:

Please promote or join 2 raise awarenss:


It’s about making irregular, alternative, unexpected and abnormal geographies happen.

In an education context it’s about being creative in the way geography is taught, including the subject matter, learning environment and methods.

The aim is for (young) people to (re)think about the world through geography and (re)consider what geography is.

Exactly what is to occur on Nov 7? Per the webpage (for educators):

Guerrilla Geography Day 2012 challenges learners (that’s all of us) to discover and share “No” signs and discuss their meanings, relevances and importances. Where appropriate we may decide to go guerrilla by contesting current “No” signs or creating our own. Challenging these signs does not mean illegally removing them, but considering what actions could be taken that come up to but do not cross permissive lines and starting a conversation with the relevant authorities to have them changed.

via @CanGeoEdu

With support from Esri, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) has reprinted 2,000 copies of the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge (BoK). AAG will distribute these new copies at no charge to attendees at its national events in 2013. In addition, AAG and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) have granted permission to Esri to distribute a free digital version of the BoK. Download the digital version as a PDF here.

It's 162 pages, 8 Mb. 

Esri GIS Education Community blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/09 at 04:08 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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