recommended reading

Geospatial-Intelligence Agency helps eyeball Mississippi floods

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which helped pinpoint the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden, this week is using its tools, systems and analysts to help assess potential impact of Mississippi River floods on bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure in the South, a senior agency analytical manager told Nextgov.

The manager, who declined to be identified for security reasons, said NGA is also helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency eyeball and map debris fields in Alabama in the wake of the hundreds of tornadoes that battered that state last month.

NGA maintains detailed information on the country's critical infrastructure in its Homeland Security Infrastructure Program, which was set up in 2001 to serve as a clearinghouse of mission-critical geospatial and remote sensing information needed to reduce response and recovery times in the event of a natural or terrorist-caused disaster within the United States.

An internal NGA presentation shows that this database includes imagery data at a resolution of 1 foot or better, along with elevation data and vector data on critical infrastructure.

The NGA manager said the agency has tapped this database in support of FEMA to provide precise information, for example, on bridges that could be overwhelmed by the floods. This database, the manager said, details the height and width of those bridges, which becomes important as the Mississippi flood crest moves downstream and wide swaths of rural Louisiana in the Atchafalaya River basin become inundated following the this week's deliberate opening of floodgates on the Morganza Spillway, 40 miles north of Baton Rouge.

NGA said in a press release that it is supporting FEMA, the Homeland Security Department and the Army Corps of Engineers by producing models to predict the effects of releases from the spillway.

NGA's analyses include predicted and actual effects on critical infrastructure including roads, railways, airports, hospitals, Red Cross and other emergency facilities, power plants, piers and port facilities, petroleum refineries, and other industrial facilities, schools, water supplies and more.

"NGA provides a common operating picture that enables FEMA and emergency responders to work together more effectively and efficiently," said Philip J. Plack, NGA liaison to FEMA.

NGA also uses unclassified imagery data from commercial sources and the National Oceanographic and Atmospsheric Administration as well as classified imagery data to produce for FEMA what he called tailored products on the impact of the floods on bridges, roads, railroads, power plants and other key infrastructure, with all imagery information provided at the unclassified level.

These products are not delivered to FEMA as maps, the manager said, but rather as geographical information system data overlays to FEMA GIS systems that, if called upon, can output paper maps.

The manager said two NGA employees in Alabama are providing FEMA with data on the precise path of the tornadoes based in part on analysis of weather radar imagery. NGA also has two employees stationed at the FEMA regional headquarters in Denton, Texas, which is managing the larger response to the Mississippi floods.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.