We live in a changing world with multiple and evolving threats to national security, including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare (conflicts between agents with different military powers or tactics), and social unrest. Visually depicting and assessing these threats using imagery and other geographically referenced information is the mission of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to respond. Technological advances are moving geospatial tools and near-real-time information products into the hands of warfighters, emergency responders, and other users. New geospatial themes and interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving that could potentially improve geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) are emerging in university curricula. In addition, a new generation of students accustomed to working in flexible, socially connected, and highly integrated technological environments is bringing new capabilities into the workplace.
The challenge for NGA is to maintain a workforce that can deal with evolving threats to national security, ongoing scientific and technological advances, and changing skills and expectations of workers. The agency’s success depends in part on the availability of experts with suitable knowledge and skills. At the request of H. Greg Smith, NGA chief scientist, the National Research Council (NRC) established a committee to assess the supply of expertise in geospatial intelligence fields, identify gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s needs, and suggest ways to ensure an adequate supply of geospatial intelligence expertise over the next 20 years (see Box S.1).
This report analyzes the geospatial intelligence workforce in 10 areas defined in New Research Directions for the National-Geospatial Intelligence Agency: Workshop Report (NRC, 2010a), including 5 core areas (geodesy and geophysics, photogrammetry, remote sensing, cartographic science, geographic information systems [GIS] and geospatial analysis) and 5 emerging areas (GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, visual analytics, and forecasting). The availability of expertise in these areas was assessed using education and labor statistics collected from government sources. Gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s needs were identified by comparing the statistics to information on NGA’s current scientist and analyst positions and published assessments of demand for geospatial occupations. Ideas for building the necessary knowledge and skills were chosen based on a review of training programs in universities, professional societies, government agencies, and private companies.
GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE FIELDS
NGA scientists and analysts use imagery and geospatial data to depict features and activities on, above, or below the surface of the Earth to help users visualize what is happening and where. The current production and analysis of geospatial intelligence relies primarily on the techniques of the five core areas:
• Geodesy and geophysics—Geodesy is the science of mathematically determining the size, shape, and orientation of the Earth and the nature of its gravity field in four dimensions. It includes the development
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Summary W e live in a changing world with multiple This report analyzes the geospatial intelligence and evolving threats to national security, workforce in 10 areas defined in New Research Direc- including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare tions for the National-Geospatial Intelligence Agency: (conflicts between agents with different military powers Workshop Report (NRC, 2010a), including 5 core areas or tactics), and social unrest. Visually depicting and (geodesy and geophysics, photogrammetry, remote assessing these threats using imagery and other geo- sensing, cartographic science, geographic information graphically referenced information is the mission of the systems [GIS] and geospatial analysis) and 5 emerg- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As ing areas (GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowl- g eography, visual analytics, and forecasting). The avail- edge, and skills needed to respond. Technological ad- ability of expertise in these areas was assessed sing u vances are moving geospatial tools and near-real-time education and labor statistics collected from govern- information products into the hands of war ghters, fi ment sources. Gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s emergency responders, and other users. New geospatial needs were identified by comparing the statistics to themes and interdisciplinary approaches to problem information on NGA’s current scientist and analyst solving that could potentially improve geopatial s positions and published assessments of demand for intelligence (GEOINT) are emerging in university geospatial occupations. Ideas for building the necessary curricula. In addition, a new generation of students knowledge and skills were chosen based on a review of accustomed to working in flexible, socially connected, training programs in universities, professional societies, and highly integrated technological environments is government agencies, and private companies. bringing new capabilities into the workplace. The challenge for NGA is to maintain a work- GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE FIELDS force that can deal with evolving threats to national security, ongoing scientific and technological advances, NGA scientists and analysts use imagery and geo- and changing skills and expectations of workers. The spatial data to depict features and activities on, above, agency’s success depends in part on the availability or below the surface of the Earth to help users visualize of experts with suitable knowledge and skills. At the what is happening and where. The current production request of H. Greg Smith, NGA chief scientist, the and analysis of geospatial intelligence relies primarily National Research Council (NRC) established a com- on the techniques of the five core areas: mittee to assess the supply of expertise in geospatial intelligence fields, identify gaps in expertise relative to • Geodesy and geophysics—Geodesy is the science NGA’s needs, and suggest ways to ensure an adequate of mathematically determining the size, shape, and supply of geospatial intelligence expertise over the next orientation of the Earth and the nature of its gravity 20 years (see Box S.1). field in four dimensions. It includes the development 1
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2 FUTURE U.S. WORKFORCE FOR GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE • Geographic Information Systems and geospatial BOX S.1 analysis—GIS refers to any system that captures, stores, Committee Charge analyzes, manages, and visualizes data that are linked to location. Geospatial analysis is the process of applying An ad hoc committee will examine the need for geospatial intelligence expertise in the United States compared with the pro analytical techniques to geographically referenced data duction of experts in the relevant disciplines, and discuss possible sets to extract or generate new geographical informa- ways to ensure adequate availability of the needed expertise. In its tion or insight. report the committee will Recently, five research areas have emerged in 1. Examine the current availability of U.S. experts in geospa academia that could improve geospatial intelligence by tial intelligence disciplines and approaches and the anticipated U.S. availability of this expertise for the next 20 years. The disciplines adding new types of information and analysis methods and approaches to be considered include NGA’s five core areas and as well as new capabilities to help anticipate future promising research areas identified in the May 2010 NRC workshop. threats: 2. Identify any gaps in the current or future availability of this expertise relative to NGA’s need. • GEOINT fusion—the aggregation, integration, 3. Describe U.S. academic, government laboratory, industry, and conflation of geospatial data across time and space and professional society training programs for geospatial intel ligence disciplines and analytical skills. with the goal of removing the effects of data measure- 4. Suggest ways to build the necessary knowledge and skills ment systems and facilitating spatial analysis and syn- to ensure an adequate U.S. supply of geospatial intelligence experts thesis across information sources. for the next 20 years, including NGA intramural training programs • Crowdsourcing—a process in which individuals or NGA support for training programs in other venues. gather and analyze information and complete tasks over the Internet, often using mobile devices such as cellular The report will not include recommendations on policy issues such as funding, the creation of new programs or initiatives, or phones. Individuals with these devices form interactive, government organization. scalable sensor networks that enable professionals and the public to gather, analyze, share, and visualize local knowledge and observations and to collaborate on the design, assessment, and testing of devices and results. of highly precise positioning techniques and monitor- • Human geography—the science of understand- ing of dynamic Earth phenomena. Geophysics is the ing, representing, and forecasting activities of indi physics of the Earth and its environment in space, in- viduals, groups, organizations, and the social networks cluding the study of geodesy, geomagnetism and paleo- to which they belong within a geotemporal context. It magnetism, seismology, hydrology, space physics and includes the creation of operational technologies based aeronomy, tectonophysics, and atmospheric science. on societal, cultural, religious, tribal, historical, and • Photogrammetry—the art, science, and technol- linguistic knowledge; local economy and infrastructure; ogy of extracting reliable and accurate information and knowledge about evolving threats within that geo- about objects, phenomena, and environments from the temporal window. processing of acquired imagery and other sensed data, • Visual analytics—the science of analytic reason- both passively and actively, within a wide range of the ing, facilitated by interactive visual interfaces. The electromagnetic energy spectrum. techniques are used to synthesize information and • Remote sensing—the science of measuring some derive insight from massive, dynamic, ambiguous, and property of an object or phenomenon by a sensor that is often conflicting data. not in physical contact with the object or phenomenon • Forecasting—an operational research technique under study. used to anticipate outcomes, trends, or expected future • Cartographic science—the discipline dealing with behavior of a system using statistics and modeling. the conception, production, dissemination, and study A forecast is used as a basis for planning and deci- of maps as both tangible and digital objects, and with sion making and is stated in less certain terms than a their use and analysis. prediction.
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SUMMARY 3 EVOLUTION OF THE CORE AND Geodesy and photogrammetry were used exten- EMERGING AREAS sively by military and intelligence agencies in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Automation and the increased use Education and training in the core and emerging of other methods (e.g., remote sensing, geospatial areas is provided primarily by universities and colleges, a nalysis) led to substantial reductions both in the so the evolution of these areas as academic endeavors number of photogrammetry and geodesy specialists in directly influences the supply of graduates with NGA- military and intelligence occupations and in the aca- relevant skills. Disciplinary change has significantly demic programs that produced them. Most important modified the content and educational profile of NGA’s is the decline in photogrammetry, which is in danger core areas over the past several decades. For example, of disappearing as a specialized course of study in uni- GIS has been transformed from software systems de- versities. Geodesy, which underpins a wide range of veloped by a few commercial vendors to a wide range civil applications (e.g., surveying, navigation, environ- of web services supported by open standards. The focus mental monitoring), continues to be taught at several of geospatial analysis has shifted from supporting GIS universities, although degrees are offered mainly at the applications to using space-time analytic measures and master’s and doctorate levels. At the undergraduate large amounts of data to study the dynamics of human level, geodesy and photogrammetry have largely been and physical systems. Advances in sensors and image incorporated into geomatics programs, which cover the processing are yielding increasingly detailed remote science, engineering, and art of collecting and manag- sensing imagery, and sensors are starting to be linked ing geographically referenced information. into sensor webs, which offer new ways to monitor By their nature, the emerging areas are still develop- and explore environments remotely. More and better ing as areas of research and training, and the academic sensors and improved processing capabilities are also infrastructure (e.g., professional societies, journals) producing more detailed images of the Earth’s interior to support their development is in its infancy. Only and its magnetic and gravitational fields. The resulting a handful of universities offer research programs in changes in curricula have generally taken place within emerging areas and even fewer offer degree programs. the traditional university departments for remote sens- Most of the programs are interdisciplinary, and student ing, geophysics, and GIS and geospatial analysis. training is provided largely through individual courses In contrast, disciplinary change in the other core often scattered among different university departments. areas has led to name changes, overlaps in con- tent or methods, and/or moves to different depart- SUPPLY OF EXPERTISE IN GEOSPATIAL ments. igital imagery and automated processing have D INTELLIGENCE FIELDS brought the methods of digital photogrammetry close to those of remote sensing. The digital transition has The first task of the committee was to estimate the profoundly affected cartography by providing online supply of experts in the core and emerging areas now methods (e.g., interactive maps) and new graphical and over the next 20 years. NGA draws on two sources techniques (e.g., geovisualizations) to illustrate and of experts for its scientist and analyst positions: (1) new communicate spatial information beyond the paper graduates in relevant fields of study, and (2) individuals map. In response, university curricula have shifted working in occupations that require similar knowledge from cartography to geographic information science, a and/or skills. The committee obtained statistics on broader field ncompassing the science and technology e these sources from the Department of Education, of geographic information. Traditional cartographic which tracks the number of degrees conferred in more training in map production and the principles of than 1,000 fields of study, and by the Bureau of Labor graphic display have been replaced by training to ana- Statistics, which tracks the number of jobs in more lyze spatial patterns and to represent them effectively than 800 occupations. Unfortunately, the statistics are on maps and charts, often using GIS. This shift has not ideal for addressing the task because the core and narrowed the differences among cartography, GIS, and emerging areas are either embedded within broader geospatial analysis. fields of study and occupations or they span several
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4 FUTURE U.S. WORKFORCE FOR GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE fields of study or occupations. Only one field of study growth rate observed for 2000–2009) and a low-growth (cartography) and no occupations directly match the scenario (50 percent lower than the observed growth core and emerging areas. Consequently, the committee rate). The results suggest that between 312,000 and made two estimates of the number of experts: 648,000 degrees in relevant fields of study will be con- ferred to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2030. 1. An “upper-bound” estimate encompassing new graduates in all potentially relevant fields of study and Supply of New Graduates and Workers with workers in all potentially relevant occupations.1 These Education or Training in a Core or Emerging Area individuals likely have some knowledge and skills rel- evant to a core or emerging area, and could potentially To estimate the number of new graduates with be trained for a science or analyst position at NGA. education in a core or emerging area, the committee 2. A much lower estimate of the number of new used expert judgment to weigh the education statistics graduates and workers with education or experience in against other factors, including the number of universi- a core or emerging area. These individuals may possess ties offering programs in a core or emerging area, the in- the desired mix of knowledge and skills without the structional programs that produce the bulk of necessary need for substantial on-the-job training. skills, and the number of members in key professional societies. Factoring in this information yields a current Supply of New Graduates and Workers with number of graduates on the order of tens for photo- Some Relevant Skills grammetry; tens to hundreds for GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, and visual analytics; For the “upper-bound” estimate, the committee hundreds for geodesy, geophysics, and cartographic chose 109 fields of study and 36 occupations that are science; hundreds to thousands for remote sensing highly relevant to the core and emerging areas, and and forecasting; and thousands for GIS and geospatial then summed the number of graduates and workers analysis. Although accurate projections of these qualita- who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents. NGA’s tive estimates cannot be made, past trends suggest that requirement for U.S. citizenship reduces the pool of new the number of graduates will rise over the next 20 years graduates by 7 percent, with the largest reductions at the in all areas except photogrammetry and cartography. doctorate level, and the pool of experienced workers by Estimates of the number of workers experienced in 12 percent, with the largest reductions in physical sci- a core or emerging area cannot be made from the broad ence and computer occupations. The statistics show that occupation categories tracked by the Bureau of Labor U.S. citizens and permanent residents received more Statistics. The numbers are likely low in the emerging than 200,000 degrees in relevant fields of study in 2009, areas because the supply of graduates has been low. For and that U.S. citizens held more than 2.4 million jobs in the core areas, a “lower bound” was estimated by sum- relevant occupations in 2010, the latest years for which ming the number of jobs in the four most closely related statistics were available when this report was written. occupations: cartographers and photogrammetrists; The future supply of geospatial intelligence experts surveying and mapping technicians; geographers; and depends primarily on the number of people graduating geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers. In with degrees in relevant fields of study. To estimate 2010, there were nearly 100,000 jobs in these occupa- an “upper bound” on the number of graduates over tions, approximately 4 percent of the “upper-bound” the next 20 years, the committee extrapolated 10-year estimate. trends in the number of graduates in the 109 fields of study. The uncertainty in the estimate was characterized Answer to Task 1 by xtrapolating the number of new graduates under e a high-growth scenario (50 percent higher than the The education and labor analysis suggests that the current number of U.S. citizens and permanent 1 Estimates were based on the 2000 version of the Department residents with education in a core or emerging area is of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs and the likely on the order of tens for photogrammetry; tens to 2010 version of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ occupational codes.
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SUMMARY 5 hundreds for GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human of experts (new graduates with education in a core geography, and visual analytics; hundreds for geodesy, or emerging area and experienced workers in closely geophysics, and cartographic science; hundreds to thou- related occupations) with the number of scientists and sands for remote sensing and forecasting; and thousands analysts hired by NGA (historically several hundred for GIS and geospatial analysis. In addition, U.S. citi- per year) and their areas of expertise. The largest frac- zens currently hold more than 100,000 jobs in occupa- tions of NGA scientists and analysts work on imagery tions closely related to the core areas. If substantial on- analysis (40 percent), geospatial analysis (19 percent), the-job training is an option for NGA, the current labor and cartography (10 percent). pool increases to 200,000 new graduates and 2.4 million The comparison shows that the number of gradu- experienced workers. If 10-year growth trends in the ates and experienced workers exceeds the small num- “upper-bound” estimate continue, the number of new ber of NGA positions in all core areas. Expertise in graduates could reach 312,000–649,000 by 2030. geophysics and geospatial analysis is likely sufficient for NGA’s current and future needs. NGA hires GAPS IN EXPERTISE RELATIVE TO only a small fraction of the available experts and NGA’S NEEDS o ffers little or no training in these areas to employees through the NGA College. There appear to be enough The second task of the committee was to identify c artographers, photogrammetrists, and geodesists for gaps in the availability of geospatial intelligence exper- NGA’s current needs. The number of professionals tise relative to NGA’s needs. The expertise available to working in these areas is substantially higher than the NGA depends not only on the supply of new graduates number of NGA positions, and only minimal training and experienced workers (discussed above) but also is offered at the NGA College. However, future short- on the demand for knowledge and skills by NGA and ages in cartography, photogrammetry, and geodesy other organizations. Demand for expertise by other seem likely because the number of graduates is too organizations was estimated from published studies small (tens to hundreds) to give NGA choices or means on the geospatial industry. NGA’s current needs were of meeting sudden demand. Moreover, cartography and characterized from the number of employees in vari- photogrammetry programs are shrinking. Some short- ous scientist and analyst occupations, the degrees and ages may be imminent, given that industry is already coursework specified in NGA occupation descriptions, having trouble filling cartography positions and that and the types of training offered to new employees federal agencies are concerned about a growing deficit through the NGA College. Strategic information, of highly skilled geodesists. It is possible that GIS and such as current problems finding expertise and uture f remote sensing recruits are already hard to find, given hiring priorities, were not available from NGA, so the extensive training in these fields provided by the the committee made two assumptions: (1) that the NGA College. Although the supply in both fields ex- NGA College curriculum reflects not only what ceeds NGA’s needs, competition for GIS applications t opics are currently important to NGA, but also what analysts is strong. knowledge and skills are hard to find in applicants; NGA has no positions in emerging areas, so any and (2) that NGA currently needs expertise in the gaps in expertise will occur in the future. Emerging five core areas and that the five emerging areas would areas are likely to become increasingly important become increasingly important in the future. Based on to NGA, in part because they are based on inter this information and the assumptions, the committee disciplinary approaches, which are needed to tackle big identified gaps in domain knowledge and skills and data and complex intelligence problems, such as those where to find them. that concern coupled human-environmental systems. Such interdisciplinary approaches are also useful for Domain Knowledge many other applications, so competition, coupled with a small supply (tens to hundreds in most emerging The committee identified gaps in domain knowl- areas), could lead to shortages in the future availability edge relative to NGA’s needs by comparing the number of expertise in the emerging areas.
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6 FUTURE U.S. WORKFORCE FOR GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE Skills Answer to Task 2 NGA occupation descriptions specify both core The committee’s analysis revealed both current and competencies for all science and analyst positions and future gaps in knowledge and skills relative to NGA’s those skills required for each type of position. The needs. Although the supply of experts is larger than core competencies stress interpersonal skills, com- NGA demand in all core and emerging areas, qualified munication, and creative thinking and adaptability, GIS and remote sensing experts may already be hard whereas the position-related skills stress working with to find. Long before 2030, competition and a small customers and gathering, analyzing, and disseminating number of graduates will likely result in shortages in information. The NGA College offers several courses cartography, photogrammetry, geodesy, and all emerg- in interpersonal skills, written and oral communica- ing areas. In NGA’s future workforce, which is likely tion, and critical thinking, suggesting that these core to be more interdisciplinary and focused on emerging competencies are currently in short supply. areas, the ideal skill set will include spatial thinking, In the foreseeable future, new questions, as well scientific and computer literacy, mathematics and sta- as the data sets and tools needed to answer them, will tistics, languages and world culture, and professional continually arise. Dealing with these evolving ques- ethics. Although NGA is currently finding employees tions and approaches requires a flexible workforce that with skills in statistics, ethics, cultural analysis, and is capable of thinking in breadth, rather than depth, scientific methods, graduates with the ideal skill set through interdisciplinary training and teamwork. The will remain scarce until interdisciplinary and emerg- ideal skill set will include spatial thinking, scientific ing areas develop. NGA could improve its chances of and computer literacy, mathematics and statistics, lan- finding the necessary knowledge and skills by extending guages and world culture, and professional ethics. Some recruiting to the example university programs identified of these skills (statistics, ethics, cultural analysis, and in this report. scientific methods) are required for particular NGA positions. Although many university programs teach CURRENT TRAINING PROGRAMS some of these skills, graduates with the ideal skill set are scarce. In particular, math and computer skills remain Answer to Task 3 a gap in many natural and social science programs, and spatial skills remain a gap in many computer science The third task of the committee was to describe and engineering programs. These gaps are likely to training programs relevant to geospatial intelligence persist until more interdisciplinary programs develop. that are offered by a variety of organizations. The com- mittee chose example programs that have a long record Recruiting of accomplishment, a critical mass of high-caliber instructors, a substantial number of students, and/or Individuals with knowledge and skills in the core that provide an opportunity to solve problems in a and emerging areas are available, but NGA may not be real-world context. Universities provide the foundation looking for them in all the right places. NGA focuses knowledge and skills needed by NGA scientists and recruiting on academic institutions that are near major analysts. Degree programs offer comprehensive course- NGA facilities or that have a large population of un- work in a field of study (e.g., University of olorado’s C derrepresented groups. Only about one-third of these Department of Geography), as well as important sup- institutions, typically the large state universities, have porting classes, such as statistics and mathematics. strong programs in core or emerging areas, although Some university programs teach the ability to think many likely help meet other agency goals, such as and work across disciplinary boundaries (e.g., Carnegie increasing diversity. Extending recruiting to some of Mellon University’s Computational and Organization the example university programs identified in this re- Science program), to combine scientific knowledge port would help NGA find the geospatial intelligence with practical workforce skills (e.g., North Carolina expertise it needs. State University’s professional science master’s in geo-
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SUMMARY 7 spatial information science and technology), or to apply encourage university professors to develop short courses scientific knowledge to solve real-world problems (e.g., in emerging areas or other subjects of interest to NGA. George Mason University’s master’s in geographic and Setting up short courses, workshops, and seminars is cartographic sciences), sometimes in the context of relatively simple, requiring only credentialed instructors national security and defense (e.g., military colleges). and an event organizer. Other organizations offer short-term, immersive train- NGA seeks university training for new mployees e ing, which is particularly useful for updating or aug- and also sends some employees to universities for menting employee skills. Courses offered by govern- advanced training in core areas through the Vector ment agencies are usually targeted at agency operational Study Program. The program allows NGA employees needs (e.g., National Weather Service’s Warning Deci- to attend school for three semesters (undergraduate sion Training Branch). Short courses and conference study) or six semesters (graduate study) while receiving workshops offered by professional societies and other full salary and benefits. However, university training nongovernmental organizations provide focused train- through the Vector Study Program is being replaced ing and sometimes certificates on specific geospatial by less in-depth training at the NGA College. Increas- topics (e.g., Institute of Navigation’s short courses in ing the number of employees who participate in the positioning, navigation, and timing). Private companies Vector Study Program would enhance employee skills commonly provide training for using the software (e.g., in core areas, and extending the program to emerging Environmental Systems Research Institute’s [ESRI’s] areas would bring new skills to the agency. Allowing GIS software) and hardware (e.g., Gloal Positioning distance learning or shorter or longer periods of study System receivers, photogrammetric workstations) they would make the program more flexible to both NGA have developed. and its employees. Finally, the NGA College offers approximately WAYS TO BUILD KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS 170 courses to its employees and other government IN THE FUTURE workers and contractors. Courses are taught by govern- ment employees and contractors. External reviews by The fourth task of the committee was to suggest independent experts, which are common in university ways to build the necessary knowledge and skills to en- departments, would help administrators ensure that the sure an adequate U.S. supply of geospatial intelligence curriculum remains relevant and up to date and that experts over the next 20 years. Few of the training the teaching staff are of the highest caliber. programs mentioned above were designed specifically for NGA’s employment needs and, thus, do not offer Building Core and Emerging Areas all of the knowledge and skills needed by the agency. However, a variety of mechanisms are available for NGA provides grants to academic institutions NGA to build the specialized expertise it needs in and consortia to support research and education in the future, including strengthening existing training geospatial intelligence fields. Grant programs could programs, building core and emerging areas, and en- also be used to support core and emerging areas by hancing recruiting. A menu of options, of varying scope establishing research centers and partnerships and and complexity, that NGA is not currently utilizing is by helping to develop curricula and academic sup- described below. port infrastructure. Centers provide a means to gather experts from different fields and/or different organiza- Strengthening Training tions to develop new research areas. They can take sev- eral forms, depending on the goals and partners in the NGA uses existing training programs to obtain collaboration. Government research centers attached knowledge and skills, but some of these programs could to a university (University Affiliated Research Centers be strengthened to better meet the agency’s needs. For [UARCs]) are established to help an agency maintain example, in addition to sending employees to short core scientific and technologic capabilities over a long courses at professional society conferences, NGA could period. Research centers and partnerships may also be
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8 FUTURE U.S. WORKFORCE FOR GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE established between private companies and universities with abilities in spatial thinking, geography, or image and/or government agencies to support technological interpretation. innovation. Centers of excellence can be housed in a university, federal agency, or private company and can Answer to Task 4 focus on any topic that requires a team approach or shared facilities. They are commonly established to The actions described above to answer Task 4 show carry out collaborative research, create tools and data that a variety of mechanisms can be used to ensure the sets, and build a cohort of trained individuals in new future availability of geospatial intelligence expertise. subject areas. In virtual centers, members work together Some of the mechanisms would build expertise in the from their own institutions using conferencing and the long term (e.g., UARCs, research partnerships with Internet. They are easy to set up and are often estab- industry, curriculum development, academic support lished to facilitate work on short-term projects or new infrastructure), while others could provide more im- research areas. mediate gains (e.g., Vector Study Program expansion, By supporting university research, NGA indirectly virtual centers, professional society workshops and influences the development of fields of interest. NGA short courses, recruitment efforts). Most mechanisms could speed the development of emerging areas by would be relatively inexpensive to implement (e.g., sponsoring university efforts to establish core curricula virtual centers, curriculum development, recruiting ef- and academic support infrastructure (i.e., journals, forts), while some could require substantial investment, professional societies). Core curricula are particularly depending on size and scope (e.g., UARCs, Vector important in emerging areas because each program Study Program expansion, centers of excellence). The has a unique set of collaborating departments and ap- need is greatest for the emerging areas, which cur- proaches for dealing with the topics, so graduates from rently produce few graduates and lack the academic different programs commonly have different knowl- infrastructure to develop quickly, but these mechanisms edge and skills. The academic support infrastructure for could also be used to build other areas of interest to the emerging areas could be nurtured through actions NGA. Getting involved with education and training such as funding a university scientist to compile and programs would also provide opportunities for NGA edit a special issue on an emerging topic in a leading to influence the development of fields it relies on to journal or organizing sessions on emerging themes at carry out its mission. key conferences. The bottom line is that, despite its need for Enhancing Recruiting highly specialized knowledge and skills, NGA has the comparative luxury of being a small employer in the NGA offers scholarships and internships to sup- burgeoning geospatial enterprise. NGA is probably port students interested in a career in geospatial intelli- finding sufficient experts in all core areas, with the pos- gence. Other ways to reach potential applicants include sible exception of GIS and remote sensing. However, organizing sessions at professional society conferences shortages (too few experts to give NGA choices or to raise awareness of NGA and its technical work, means of meeting sudden demand) in photogrammetry, and establishing a social media site with links to job cartography, and geodesy are likely in the short term, listings, recruiting events, and related information to followed by possible shortages in emerging areas in the make it easy to find information about NGA careers. longer term. While low numbers of experts are of con- NGA could seek candidates with the right combination cern to NGA, many mechanisms are available to build of spatial reasoning skills by engaging students in in- the knowledge and skills that NGA will require, such teresting problem-solving exercises (e.g., analyzing an as strengthening existing training programs, building intelligence problem) at recruiting events. In addition, core and emerging areas, and enhancing recruiting. career aptitude tests, administered by NGA or by vari- With attention to these areas, NGA has the ability ous testing services, could be used to find individuals both to meet its workforce needs and to be adaptive to a changing mission during the next 20 years, and potentially well beyond.