The National Imagery and Mapping Agency is in the midst of a pivotal year as it creates its own functional identity as the geospatial intelligence provider for military and homeland security organizations. The agency will be looking for substantial support from the commercial sector-including foreign companies-while it transforms and concurrently meets the growing needs of the defense community.
The future role of information technology in support of homeland security and the war on terrorism initiatives will be the focus of TechNet International 2003, May 6-8. In its new venue-the recently opened Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.-AFCEA International will offer three days of information presentations and technology demonstrations in an integrated setting.
Although industry shoulders the ultimate responsibility for the health and well-being of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, the federal government is working to ensure the continued operation of systems that touch almost every aspect of life-from emergency services to economic stability. Key among the government's concerns are the security and reliability of the systems on which national security and emergency preparedness depend.
The types of sonars equipping Chinese warships are a barometer of Chinese naval technology and antisubmarine capability. The evolution of Chinese sonar from old Soviet equipment to series production, to indigenous designs, to French examples and finally to modern Russian vessels with sonar suites parallels Chinese naval progress. Just as these systems have grown from secondhand gear to indigenous designs supplemented by up-to-date foreign technologies, so has the Chinese navy transitioned to a force designed to serve the nation's maritime needs.
Flush with voluminous databases of varied geospatial imagery and data, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency is equipping its customers with both reach-back capabilities and on-location expertise. The agency is tapping diverse sources of digitized imagery and terrain data so that it can generate multidimensional products for customers at all levels of government and the military.
More than 10 years of hardware, software and signal processing upgrades have transformed the Patriot missile system into an effective defensive shield against short-range and theater tactical missiles. The original system that achieved partial success in the 1991 Gulf War became a bulwark in the Iraq War, effectively neutralizing Saddam Hussein's theater ballistic missile threat.
A few weeks ago, there was a story on the evening news about a waitress in Texas whose son is a Marine stationed in Iraq. Although his unit could communicate with the higher echelons, its members were having difficulty communicating with each other while on the battlefield. He asked his mom to go to a local electronics store, buy a set of walkie-talkies and send them to him. She was happy to help the war effort, but what she didn't anticipate was the hit the equipment would be with her son's buddies who wanted walkie-talkies of their own.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, fresh from assuming a new name less than a year ago, is striving to meet several self-imposed goals to address shortcomings and to confront the challenges of 21st century network-centric warfare. On its to-do list are converting fully to digital products and services; pursuing an e-business model; and transforming its architecture. It also seeks to pursue advanced forms of geospatial intelligence, including electromagnetic spectrum, and to mature the ability to capitalize on airborne collection. And, the agency's leadership foresees a need for two new headquarters facilities to deal with burgeoning responsibilities and an increased terror threat.
A Web-based decision support system developed by private industry and university researchers allows government and military emergency responders to build situational awareness pictures of an unfolding crisis. The support tool taps data from diverse sources, translates it to a common database and presents it according to user needs.
U.S. legislators are fighting to secure information systems on two fronts: the federal government and the private sector. And, they are worried that the government is underachieving badly at a most crucial time for information security.