Trajectory magazine recently caught up with Steven Thomas, Vice President of Business Development for Freedom Consulting Group
Trajectory magazine recently caught up with Steven Thomas, Vice President of Business Development for Freedom Consulting Group, a data analytics provider in Columbia, Maryland. He discussed his organization’s role in geospatial intelligence and what the future holds for Freedom.
Trajectory: What is Freedom’s role in the advancement of geospatial intelligence?
Thomas: Freedom fills several different roles. But the true primary role that we fill is advancing geospatial intelligence data. Whether at the data development level, data workflow, or data management level, we deal a lot with what we like to consider, and the pun is completely intended, “freeing the data.” We make the data more available, more useful, and more impactful to the missions. We also do advanced geospatial software application development. The world of GEOINT is always advancing and modernizing, and that often requires new software to be written or new mission systems to be developed. We play in that space very heavily and have multiple customers throughout the intelligence agencies.
What solutions does Freedom provide?
We provide data strategies and the underlying solutions that fit the customer or mission need, and we provide the analysis of that data. Recently, that means making it available for the ever-growing AI/ML solutions coming out. We ensure that in freeing the data, we are making it not just available to the human analyst or the human working the mission but doing it at scale so it can be machine-to-machine and advanced AI/ML.
Who are your main customers?
We support all five of The Big Five intelligence agencies, and we support a number of Department of Defense customers and commands. One of the more interesting customers I can mention by name is USAID, which deals with more of the developing world and the humanitarian side of GEOINT. We’re very proud to support them.
What distinguishes Freedom in the geospatial industry? What makes Freedom unique?
I would say it’s our people. Ultimately, the mix of people that Freedom has, from our developers and engineers and those who work within the customer space, are second to none. And that goes all the way up to our new Chief Executive Office, Vernon Saunders, our board of directors, which includes people like General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA, and the Honorable Sue Gordon, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former deputy director of NGA. We have an unmatched level of personnel with talent and experience.
What excites you most about the future of GEOINT?
It’s exciting and a little bit challenging that geospatial intelligence is growing so exponentially, year over year, in terms of the volume of data, the diversity of data, and new data sources constantly coming online. In our estimation, the future use of geospatial intelligence will be more and more important in any aspect of any mission.
What is your involvement with USGIF? How have you leveraged USGIF membership to contribute to the geospatial community or advance the tradecraft?
Freedom’s been a long-time USGIF partner and GEOINT Symposium sponsor. I participate in multiple working groups and helped launch the St. Louis Area Working Group. The GEOINT Symposium is amazing, but there’s much more that USGIF offers.
What’s next for Freedom?
We recently graduated from small to medium-sized business status. Now we can play a bigger role within the GEOINT community and an even bigger role for our customers. As our company grows, we intend for our role in serving the needs of the GEOINT community to grow likewise.