Global Interoperability Consortium to Demonstrate Unique Use of Cloud Computing for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) has awarded $350,000 to the Cycle One team led by NJVC and members including Boeing, The Aerospace Corporation and Open Geospatial Consortium. Together they will create a cloud infrastructure to support a concept proposed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA): namely, can cloud computing deliver services to non-traditional NGA users?

The project is designed to demonstrate the interoperability and movement of data in an open-cloud-based demonstration. NGA will provide unclassified data that supports a scenario depicting the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. NCOIC’s foundational model is based on a series of successful lab interoperability demonstrations, also based on Haiti, it conducted four times during 2010.

While one commercial cloud served as a data-transport vehicle during the 2010 lab demonstrations, the NGA work would put a number of clouds in the center of the action, thereby enabling the ever-expanding population of global cloud users, including emergency responders, to post their “eyewitness” views of what’s happening where they are.

The effort will unfold in two cycles. Cycle One is a three-to-four month effort to define and build the cloud infrastructure, with the Cycle One team leading and implementing the effort. The NCOIC develops contract capabilities with its entire membership providing guiding principles based on the “voice of industry” consensus process. Cycle Two will commence with additional contractual efforts, when the Cycle One work is completed.

Cycle Two will bring in the “actors.” Actors will be member companies plugging into the cloud and using the geospatial data to activate unique, sometimes proprietary, applications that demonstrate end-user capabilities. An example of potential end-user capability could be rescue workers, firefighters, hospital personnel or even bankers trying to reconstitute a financial system. Member companies’ imaginations will determine the selection of actors.

The work falls under the auspices of Tip Slater, NCOIC director of business development, and Chuck MacDonough, NCOIC NGA program manager. Both will employ NCOIC processes that ensure consistency with the contract’s objectives and the neutral working environment required by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s A119 regulation.

“Governments have spent billions on satellites that can locate objects on Earth, and those systems give us very reliable data about the latest situations on the ground,” Slater said. “But why shouldn’t we encourage the Web community to contribute their own views of the reality they see every hour of every day? Clouds offer the global reach for data storage, retrieval and survivability that could help NCOIC validate this work on behalf of NGA.”

Cycle One team member contributions include:

  • NJVC: Team leader for the project; designing, implementing and managing a federated cloud environment that provides baseline infrastructure services to participating NCOIC member companies
  • Boeing: Geoservices through a Boeing-developed set of capabilities via its OpenGeo software
  • Open Geospatial Consortium: Expertise to monitor, offer advice and report on the use of OGC standards throughout the demonstration period
  • The Aerospace Corporation: An OpenStack-based cloud and a virtual organization management system patterned after the one used by the Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid

About NGA
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is the nation’s primary source of geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community. As a DoD combat support agency and a member of the IC, NGA provides GEOINT, in support of U.S. national security and defense, as well as disaster relief. GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information that describes, assesses and visually depicts physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth.

The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium’s core capability is enabling interoperability among and between domains such as aerospace, civil and military operations, air traffic management, health care and more. NCOIC is a global not-for-profit organization with an eight-year history of developing world-class skills and tools that help its members and customers to operate effectively across diverse global market sectors and domains. For more information, visit