This week, Noblis, Inc., a nonprofit provider of science, technology, and strategy services to government agencies,Â was awardedÂ a $3 billion IDIQ contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).Â The contract awarded to Noblis is particularly noteworthy both because it hit the monetary award ceiling across all five ProTech domains and because it shows the federal government is actively pursuing GEOINT technologies. Per the terms of the contract, Noblis will support the design, development, testing, and operation of NOAAâs satellite systems. Moreover, Noblis will be providing data management and analytics expertise to the program to help NOAA develop expedited access and predictive information to global environmental data collected from the satellites.
GEOINT, short for Geospatial Intelligence, isÂ definedÂ by the U.S. Code asÂ âthe exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information.â
NOAA is far from the only federal agency leveraging private-sector GEOINT capabilities, as shownÂ by theÂ work being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and Iridium CommunicationsÂ to track aircraft across trans-oceanic routes; and the Marine CorpsÂ awardingÂ a $14.5 million contract to Comtech Telecommunications for creating Ku-band services for its satellites.
The U.S. isnât the only nation seeking to bolster its GEOINT capabilities, either. The Australian Defence Force hasÂ taskedÂ Northrop Grumman, ViaSat, and Optus with building a satellite ground station and a wide-band satellite communications network management system via a $170 million contract.
There have also been partnerships between private-sector companies to advance their respective GEOINT capabilities. Esri and AirbusÂ partnered upÂ to incorporate the latterâs elevation data into Esriâs online maps, while SSL wasÂ awardedÂ a contract from a MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates subsidiary to build satellites for DigitalGlobeâsÂ WorldView LegionÂ constellation, which will be used to collect Earth imaging data.
So why all the interest in GEOINT? At the GEOINT Symposium back in June, the TRANSCOM leader General Darren McDewÂ explainedÂ that satellite imaging and tracking capabilities are driving greater degrees of efficiency in the military by aiding the process of moving and deploying troops and hardware. GEOINT, according to Gen. McDew, can provide critical support for military logistical efforts, an area which he believes to be the foundation that all military capabilities are built upon.
Partnership and cooperation across the intelligence community is another critical component inÂ GEOINT innovation.Â Â âWe know we cannot deal with the wave of data on our own. We need partners,âÂ statedÂ Robert Cardillo, director of the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.)Â Cardillo stressed that partnerships and cooperation across agencies, industries, and nations are of vital importance to the sustainment and improvement of U.S. GEOINT capabilities.
GEOINT is simply too powerful and too complex to rest on the shoulders of a single agency. Look for mass cooperation across both government agencies and businesses as GEOINT technologies advance.
If youâre interested in learning more about GEOINT capabilities and future GEOINT programs, the Potomac Officers Club is hosting theÂ 2017 GEOINT ForumÂ on Wednesday, July 26thÂ at 2941 Restaurant from7:00AM to 9:45AM. Event speakers are:
- Dr. Anthony VinciÂ â Director of Plans and Programs of NGAÂ (KEYNOTE)
- Dr. David BrayÂ â Chief Ventures Officer and Director, Office of Ventures of NGAÂ (PANELIST)
- James GriffithÂ â Director, MASINT, GEOINT and Special Programs, OUSDI of DoDÂ (PANELIST)
- Curtis RowlandÂ â Chief Scientist, National Air and Space Intelligence Center of U.S. Air ForceÂ (PANELIST)
- Al LeagueÂ â Chief Innovation Officer of MDA Information SystemsÂ (MODERATOR)
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