FIGURE 1.1 NGA’s process for analyzing geospatial information. SOURCE: Courtesy of Ed Waltz, BAE Systems.

support in foreign countries, although humanitarian and disaster assistance, both at home and abroad, is a growing area of work for NGA. For example, NGA supported U.S. troops deployed to the Indian Ocean following the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami and provided imagery to U.S. and international relief organizations.2 NGA also maintains the World Geodetic System, which is instrumental for both military and civil uses of the Global Positioning System.

NGA employs several thousand scientists and analysts, who acquire and analyze imagery and other geospatial information and deliver information products, services, and geospatial intelligence to policy makers, military decision makers, warfighters, and others. According to NGA, the largest fractions work on imagery analysis (about 40 percent), geospatial analysis (19 percent), and cartography (10 percent). Over the past few years, the agency has hired several hundred such experts each year. A bachelor’s degree or a combination of education and experience is preferred, although many NGA scientists and analysts have higher degrees. Additional training on sensors, geospatial analysis, and other subjects is provided by the National Geospatial- Intelligence College (hereafter referred to as the NGA College). NGA employees can also take classes at universities through the Vector Study Program.


This report examines the supply of experts in 10 geospatial intelligence areas, gaps between the supply of experts and NGA’s needs over the next 20 years, and ways to build necessary knowledge and skills. Chapter 2 characterizes the knowledge, skills, and academic programs in the five core areas that have historically underpinned geospatial intelligence, and Chapter 3 focuses on five emerging areas that could improve geospatial intelligence in the future. Chapter 4


2 See NGA historical reference chronology, <>.

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