In November, Dr. Anthony Vinci met with National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Robert Cardillo and Deputy Director Sue Gordon in New York City to discuss the idea of using NGA data as currency.

This idea included Vinci leaving Findyr, a crowdsourced data collection firm he founded, and joining NGA to help establish public-private partnerships to develop technology that improves the quality, value, and use of NGA data.

“The IC is good at solving what are, in essence, impossible problems,” said Vinci, now NGA’s director of plans and programs, to an overflow crowd at the GEOINT 2017 Government Pavilion Stage Monday. “The tech industry’s strength is in risk taking. It brings flexibility and creativity to problem solving.”

So why not marry the two?

“[NGA has] data,” Vinci said. “Having come out of the tech startup world, it’s a wonderland. … If data was oil, NGA would be Saudi Arabia.”

To tech companies, data is oil.

The question, Vinci said, is “how can we combine data and talent to come up with new solutions?”

To achieve public-private partnerships, the agency will perform due diligence on prospective partners to assure data security. “I want to raise boats,” Vinci said, referencing the rising tide aphorism, “But not all boats.”

The idea is a cultural departure from conventional government problem solving. The Intelligence Community usually solves problems alone, or pays industry for solutions, Vinci said.

As with any investment, a reward is expected. In this case, NGA’s data investment is designed to yield positive results for the future of the GEOINT discipline.

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Posted by Jim Hodges