removing the impacts of physical separation on collaborative research. A study on the project found that shared access to data, tools, computational resources, and collaborators has led to faster research results and novel research directions (Carusi and Reimer, 2010).

Research Partnerships

Innovation in geospatial technology commonly comes from industry or collaborations with industry. Examples of such technologies used by NGA include ArcGIS Military Analyst, which was developed by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and FalconView, a PC-based mapping application developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute. One way to nurture nonproprietary technology innovations is to develop research partnerships with private companies. Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) are commonly used to establish research and development partnerships between a government agency and a private company. Partnerships between universities and industry can be formed through a variety of means. For example, NSF’s Industry & University Cooperative Research Program provides a means for universities and private companies to establish a center, supported primarily by industry, to collaborate on projects of mutual interest.3 The program is intended to help build the nation’s research infrastructure and to enhance the intellectual capacity of the science and engineering workforce. Private companies provide funding and technological capabilities, and universities provide cutting-edge research capabilities. Graduate students contribute to the research projects and also become familiar with industrially relevant research.

Some of the centers in the Industry & University Cooperative Research Program address topics of interest to NGA, such as remote sensing, visual analytics, and data fusion. Government agencies can become partners in the centers or use this model to build critical infrastructure and worker skills specific to their needs.

Curriculum Development

A number of federal agencies have sponsored initiatives to develop or enhance curricula in areas relevant to their mission, thereby helping to expand the supply of potential employees with the necessary training and skills. For example, NASA has sponsored several projects to develop remote sensing curricula.4 Opportunities abound for NGA to get involved in curriculum development in emerging or other areas that suit their workforce needs. A particularly promising focus is an interdisciplinary master’s degree curriculum in geospatial intelligence topics. Interdisciplinary master’s programs are politically easier and less costly for universities to implement than interdisciplinary bachelor’s programs. Moreover, efforts to establish such curricula would demonstrate to universities the need for interdisciplinary education. Curriculum development at the NGA College may also be fruitful. Such efforts are often inexpensive and can yield major returns.

Past experience with creating academic curriculum in emerging geospatial areas is well illustrated by the NSF’s National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), which was established in 1989. The proposal to create the center included development of a core curriculum in GIS. At the time, no major textbook on the subject had been written and few universities offered classes. Therefore, the initial NCGIA core curriculum, published in 1990, was targeted at university and college instructors and included lesson plans, lecture slides, and support materials. The curriculum was a success, with requests for the materials from hundreds of institutions nationally and internationally (Kemp and Goodchild, 1991). Ongoing demand led to a second version of the GIS core curriculum, this time using the web as the main creation and distribution channel. An overall design and structure was created, and leading scholars were invited to contribute content to each of the modules. Although the web version of the GIS core curriculum was overtaken by Wikis and by new textbooks and software, its model for basic classes and topics remains at the forefront of university-level GIS instruction today (Howarth and Sinton, 2011).

Academic Support Infrastructure

The academic support infrastructure for the emerging areas—professional societies, special interest


3 See <>.

4 See <>.

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