Since National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Robert Cardillo took the helm in 2014, the agency has ushered in many changes as to how it does business. Two challenges NGA continues to face and improve upon are learning to operate in the open and enhancing its relationship with industry.
NGA aims to address both challenges with the launch of eNGAge, an expertise exchange program with industry and academia. Elizabeth Hoag, eNGAge program manager, spoke about the initiative Sept. 13 at USGIF’s GEOINTeraction Tuesday event, sponsored by Esri and hosted at the company’s office in Vienna, Va.
More than 80 people attended the networking event to learn more about eNGAge. The program was first introduced to the community in Cardillo’s keynote address at USGIF’s GEOINT 2016 Symposium in May.
“We hit the idea of ‘What if our people don’t know what the open is like?’” Hoag said. “If they’re just working inside NGA’s walls and only with NGA people, then where are we going to get those fresh ideas and how are we going to keep up with emerging technologies?”
Hoag described eNGAge as a “people solution” that identifies areas in which NGA employees need more experience or ways in which industry could benefit from spending time at the agency.
The eNGAge website, hosted on the GEOINT Solutions Marketplace (GSM), contains a list of NGA problems and challenges, and invites industry and academia to propose expertise exchange solutions. Challenges include data analytics and data science, 3D surface generation and editing, geospatial cyber research, and many more.
According to Hoag, the program is flexible and adaptable depending on need. The duration of an exchange could last from 6 months to multiple years—or even be intermittent. Additionally, exchanges don’t have to be 1:1—meaning an NGA employee could go on assignment with a member of industry without the company sending an employee back to the agency, and vice versa. She also emphasized the program is meant to be more than an individual professional development opportunity.
“We’re talking about special work and special people—people being an ambassador where they can learn and live in an immersive environment and come back and share, and multiply that sharing with the rest of the team,” Hoag said.