Call for Submissions!
NGA’s Disparate Data Challenge
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) seeks to unearth innovative ways of retrieving and analyzing data in different locations, formats, schemas and interfaces. It recently released an engineering problem on Challenge.gov for participants to demonstrate capabilities that enable access to data with wildly disparate formats, schemas, interfaces and locations. The challenge is in two stages, with $10K being awarded to as many as 15 teams in the first stage, and up to $25K being awarded to the first place winner of the second stage. It is open to US citizens or US entities (more info at link below).
Want to see some data first?
Stage 1 requires solvers to implement functioning capabilities that can demonstrate access and retrieval to analyze either part or all of the provided representative datasets that approximate the difficulties associated with accessing and using NGA’s disparate restricted-access holdings. You may access the data through the following link.
What is NGA?
NGA is both a part of the U.S. Department of Defense and a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community. It uses imagery and spatially referenced information that describes, assesses and visually depicts physical features and geographically referenced activities on Earth. The agency interprets this data, called geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), to deliver breaking news, contextual information, and navigation data to a wide range of customers, including the President and national policymakers, members of the military, global transport networks, and disaster relief workers.
Does NGA release information to the public?
Yes. NGA releases items of general public interest on its public website, which includes information about NGA, unclassified current publications, speeches and congressional testimony, press releases and statements, career information, and basic references. Also available are GEOINT products and services, a data catalogue, and mobile and web applications. Check out our website for more info.
Does NGA spy on Americans?
Heck, no! Unless an American is involved in the kind of activity that would get them in trouble with the FBI (an “authorized intelligence activity” like terrorism or narcotics smuggling), we are explicitly restricted from using data that might contain information about US Persons. We get training on this issue every year, and there are regular audits. It’s a big deal to us. (Now I should add that I’m not a lawyer, and this is my opinion based on my experience at NGA over 10 years. If it in any way contradicts or confuses information that has been stated by the agency in formal channels, then I apologize in advance for any mistake on my part. -Charlie) Here’s the most accurate answer, one that’s been coordinated with our legal eagles:
“By statutory and presidential direction, NGA is limited in the collection of foreign intelligence concerning the domestic activities of US citizens. NGA's mission is to provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security. Under Executive Order 12333, and in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General of the United States, however, NGA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against US citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in international terrorist or international narcotics activities. NGA also provides intelligence support to domestic disaster relief and special security events in the United States. All of NGA's activities are to be conducted in a manner that protects fully the legal rights of all United States persons, including the freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Federal law.”
For more information about the agency, see our “About NGA” page.