This week, Noblis, Inc., a nonprofit provider of science, technology, and strategy services to government agencies, was awarded a $3 billion IDIQ contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 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 NOAA’s 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, is defined by the U.S. Code as “the 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.”
NOAA is far from the only federal agency leveraging private-sector GEOINT capabilities, as shown by the work being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and Iridium Communications to track aircraft across trans-oceanic routes; and the Marine Corps awarding a $14.5 million contract to Comtech Telecommunications for creating Ku-band services for its satellites.
The U.S. isn’t the only nation seeking to bolster its GEOINT capabilities, either. The Australian Defence Force has tasked 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 Airbus partnered up to incorporate the latter’s elevation data into Esri’s online maps, while SSL was awarded a contract from a MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates subsidiary to build satellites for DigitalGlobe’s WorldView Legion 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 McDew explained 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 in GEOINT innovation. “We know we cannot deal with the wave of data on our own. We need partners,” stated Robert Cardillo, director of the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.) 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 you’re interested in learning more about GEOINT capabilities and future GEOINT programs, the Potomac Officers Club is hosting the 2017 GEOINT Forum on Wednesday, July 26th at 2941 Restaurant from7:00AM to 9:45AM. Event speakers are:
- Dr. Anthony Vinci – Director of Plans and Programs of NGA (KEYNOTE)
- Dr. David Bray – Chief Ventures Officer and Director, Office of Ventures of NGA (PANELIST)
- James Griffith – Director, MASINT, GEOINT and Special Programs, OUSDI of DoD (PANELIST)
- Curtis Rowland – Chief Scientist, National Air and Space Intelligence Center of U.S. Air Force (PANELIST)
- Al League – Chief Innovation Officer of MDA Information Systems (MODERATOR)
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