The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is one of several agencies in 2014 that has joined GitHub, an online open source platform.
Making NGA data available on GitHub will allow programmers and developers to use that information for themselves or to improve it for NGA. According to an NGA release, the agency hopes to reap the creative benefits that come with leveraging the open source community, and to reach the programming community.
“It’s critical we identify more ways to be innovative, reduce costs and integrate efforts across the intelligence community and all of government,” NGA Director Letitia Long said. “It’s a new way of thinking for us, and it is exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing.”
NGA’s first efforts for data sharing begin with GeoQ, a tool the agency developed to assist with humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery efforts. GeoQ takes disaster and recovery information from multiple sources and makes sense of damage, response efforts and photos from disaster areas.
“We built GeoQ on all open source frameworks to make it easily shareable with our mission and response partners,” Ray Bauer, technology lead for NGA’s Readiness, Response and Recovery team, said in a NGA release. “This allows them to integrate the software into their own visual display systems. What we’re hoping for now is to spark interaction with the GitHub communities to improve the code. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can be a part of the solution.”
The tool was further refined by the agency when NGA partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and has since become an integral component of the first-responder community, according to the release.
NGA’s efforts were applauded by the open source community. In a tweet, GitHub’s government evangelist Ben Balter commended NGA saying, “if they can do it, any agency can.”