The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a U.S. Government intelligence agency and Department of Defence combat support agency. But it also provides support for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. At FOSS4GNA today in St. Louis I found out that NGA is the largest consumer of geospatial data in the U.S. and the first intelligence agency to contribute to Github.
Mark Munsell of NGA gave a very interesting keynote at FOSS4GNA this afternoon. Until a decade ago NGA did not use open source software. But NGA found that relying on proprietary software left it lagging behind. About 10 years go NGA decided to begin using open source software. It acts as a user of and contributor to open source code and as a supporter of the geospatial open source community. Boundless, Postgres, OSSIM, MapStory, OpenSensorHub, geomesa, GeoTrellis and others have all been supported by NGA. Internally NGA provides geospatial services to other intel services as well as the Department of Defence. NGA has implemented a Data Corps consisting of data scientists and specialists that can work on specific problems in any intel agency.
In the mid 1990s the U.S. government decided to outsource most development work and laid off most the the coders working in the intelligence community. They subsequently realized that they had lost an incredible wealth of expertise and knowledge as a result of that policy decision. Under the name of Dev Corps NGA now wants to hire developers, especially from the geospatial open source development community Mark emphasized. Mark finished off with an impassioned plea for geospatial open source developers to continue contributing as they have been, but if they are interested in working for an agency that does do humanitarian and disaster relief in addition to intel and defence, he wants to talk to them.