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NGA needs quicker access to the commercial geospatial data

The private industry is coming up quickly with new goods and services for geospatial intelligence than the federal government can work out how to purchase them. That implies analysts require ways to acquire “at such a moment’s notice” Commercial GEOINT, stated David Gauthier. He works at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a director in charge of both commercial and business activities. NGA provides geospatial intelligence obtained from satellite imagery to U.S. government departments. The National Reconnaissance Office, its sister entity, is responsible for NGA’s imagery procurement.

Most of the market is for photographic images collected in space by electro-optical sensors. Still, researchers gradually see the importance of other intelligence sources, like synthetic aperture radar, which is space-based, that can infiltrate clouds as well as radiofrequency satellites which identify the source of RF signals and geolocate them. These programs are being provided by an increasing variety of businesses in Europe and the United States. Gauthier added NGA is planning to collaborate with “multiple suppliers.” When needs emerge, he said on January 12, on a webinar hosted by the Smallsat Alliance, a space sector association would include an opportunity to achieve “real-time solution matching.”

According to Gauthier, NGA, as well as NRO, are scaling up market analysis to help understand what is available. There is also a necessity for a “very efficient office of procurement services” that will introduce modern technologies to government customers. The intelligence community is increasingly tilting to a ‘commercial first’ mentality, Gauthier added. “We promote this leadership-wide strategy… which basically states that the price of overlooking commercial potentials is far worse compared to the cost of using them.” Congressional panels share that opinion. There are clauses in the 2021 National Defense Authorization legislation that require DoD to be using commercial GEOINT data and services.

The NRO is aiming to broaden the pool of providers of industrial imagery. Several firms, including manufacturers of electro-optical, RF, radar, and hyper-spectral imaging, obtained research contracts. This year, the department said acquisition contracts would be awarded. In addition, NGA has pilot projects underway seeking to establish innovative methods of collaborating with commercial suppliers. He does not elaborate on the NRO procurement choices, Gauthier added. He said that both NGA, as well as NRO, is “dedicated to the commercial constellation procurement capabilities.”

Under the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the Intelligence Community of the United States, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is a military support agency with the core task of gathering, processing, and transmitting geospatial intelligence to support national security.

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