NGA Solicits Industry Analytic Innovation

NGA introduces XaaS, or Anything as a Service, an initiative to improve agency analytics with industry technology


At GEOINT 2018 on Tuesday, a team from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) Analysis Directorate talked to industry representatives about an initiative the agency dubs XaaS, or Anything as a Service.

Developed to improve the quality and quantity of analysis, drive modernization, introduce automation into the workflow, and encourage innovation, XaaS is expected to spark industry partners to share their best technology. Improving technology with the help of industry will allow NGA analysts to spend less time looking at pixels and more time on higher-order problems.

“The GEOINT data marketplace is really flourishing,” said Melissa Planert, who moderated the panel. “We are happy to partner with anyone, small or large, experienced in government or not, who is willing to lend their best technology to what are very hard problems for us to solve.”

NGA wants industry’s most creative and unorthodox solutions—including those that haven’t yet been contemplated.

“We want you to surprise us,” Planert continued. “We don’t know what the art of the possible is.”

Additional panelists included Sean Hannan, Tony Kearney, Brent Lines, Yvonne Mahabir, and Alberto Valverde.

“We can’t do this alone anymore,” said Kearney, a senior analytic advisor. “We have an overload of data.”

Kearney said he works with analytic offices to help analysts translate “the problems we’re trying to solve into language that industry partners can understand.”

Ideally, NGA wants industry data to be available in as many formats as possible and flexible over time.

“The idea is to scale it up or down, to different countries, and as different worlds dictate,” said Valverde, a commercial services lead.

Some of XaaS, said Mahabir, a business planning officer, means bringing industry skills into the agency. And sometimes, she said, “We would prefer that industry take on the solution for us.”

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