NGA follows DOD to Silicon Valley

This summer the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will open an outpost in Silicon Valley to create a presence for the intelligence agency similar to the Defense Department's DIUx.

Wikimedia image: Silicon Valley.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will soon join the Defense Department in Silicon Valley. NGA Director Robert Cardillo announced plans to open the NGA Outpost Valley this summer in the "geographic heart of American innovation" to engage with technology leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The outpost "will leverage the organic capabilities and energy of the Valley's open, vibrant, geospatial community," Cardillo said at the GEOINT Symposium in Orlando, Fla., on May 16. "It's a beachhead that will have the authority to reach out to all innovation centers."

NGA officials also want to keep up with technology advances beyond the West Coast. "We're jumping in with both feet into the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis -- a growing new hub of tech development," Cardillo said.

The announcement comes just days after DOD touted new leadership and organizational structure for its Defense Innovation Unit Experimental in Silicon Valley. DIUx 2.0 aims to make the case to innovators and entrepreneurs that the military can be a key partner and companies can play a special role in national security.

NGA is tasked with delivering geospatial intelligence for policymakers, warfighters, intelligence officers and first responders, and it works with DOD and the intelligence community to do that. The NGA outpost is part of the agency's effort to encourage research across the geospatial community at national labs, universities and businesses.

Another component of that effort is a new exchange program called eNGAge that allows agency employees to trade places with their counterparts in industry and academia.

In addition to announcing the new outpost at the GEOINT Symposium, Cardillo released the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Strategy for 2016. Priorities include professionalism, interoperability and unity of effort to speed the process toward an integrated GEOINT enterprise. The strategy takes advantage of the ever more open and connected world, while at the same time acknowledging the challenges.

"We operate in a dynamic, complex and interconnected threat environment," Cardillo said. "As a community, we will rethink how we inspire our workforce, define problems, invest resources, execute the mission and satisfy the evolving needs of our customers at a holistic, enterprise level."

As NGA director, Cardillo has made several policy moves intended to spur an increase in commercial geospatial data and more rapidly deliver IT capabilities at NGA. In February 2015, the agency merged its CIO and IT services functions in a bid to better implement an IT architecture across the intelligence community.