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Priorities for Geoint Research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
In summary, the hard problem associated with sharing data is semantic interoperability. Promising methods and techniques for increasing interoperability include further research and development of geospatial intelligence standards, translation schema for spatiotemporal conceptual models, and geospatial intelligence ontologies.
SUPPORTING HOMELAND SECURITY
The creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a response to the nation’s increased vulnerability to terrorist attack has led to another significant demand for GEOINT from NGA. To quote a recent planning document (MITRE, 2004): “In the war against terrorism, our front-line troops are not all soldiers, sailors, fliers, and marines. They are also police, firefighters, medical first responders, and other civilian personnel. These are groups whose historical access to sources of national intelligence has been near zero; yet their need for real-time and analytical intelligence is now critical.” Extension of NGA’s responsibilities to work far more closely with civilian agencies, including but not limited to DHS, has broadened NGA’s mission. For the most part, DHS’s needs place NGA in the category of an information supplier. With current trends, NGA will be more suited to serving as a knowledge supplier. In this case, few options are available for collaboration in research. There remains an opportunity for the intelligence world to collaborate with academics and others in the conduct of research. The few DHS-funded centers in universities are starting points, but there are already a large number of vehicles in place to encourage collaboration and the sharing of experience, expertise, and resources. It is in the interest of NGA to explore relationships among the existing research encouragement mechanisms, reviewed in the next chapter, and DHS. The committee believes that working with DHS involves many of the same issues as sharing GEOINT with coalition forces, similar to ensuring horizontal integration. Therefore, homeland security issues are supported by many of the recommendations in this report. However, while many of the report’s recommendations are applicable to homeland security, the distinction between domestic and foreign intelligence is of great importance. The need for and use of such information within the United States will also be substantially different from that outside the United States. With a new institutional infrastructure for intelligence in the United States, NGA is well placed to clarify and support the role of GEOINT in the new integration-based intelligence environment.