On October 2, 2015, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) renewed two five-year partnerships with Penn State, one with the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and another with the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL). The partnerships, or cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), focus on improving both education for geospatial analysts and an imaging tool used by geospatial analysts known as urban terrain zones (UTZs).

The NGA delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to warfighters, policymakers, intelligence professionals and first responders.

“You don’t see an episode of ‘24’ or ‘CSI’ without seeing the service we provide,” said Robert Cardillo, director of the NGA. “Simply stated, we help our customers understand where they are, and in what context or environment they are existing. We then add to that our expert understanding of an adversary’s capabilities, and the harder part is adversary intentions.”

Cardillo and several NGA officers visited the University Park campus October 1-3 to sign the CRADAs. While on campus, they met with researchers and students, held a press conference and participated in the University’s Military Appreciation Day.

During the press conference, Cardillo said that transparency has been a key theme of his directorship since he took office in October 2014 — and it’s also a new initiative for the NGA.

“This discipline is exploding, commercially and in a way that’s much more transparent than it ever was before,” he said. “When I came into the business, you started at top secret and you worked your way across. You could never be in a room with windows and talk about our business because it just wasn’t safe.”

The commercialization of geospatial data and GPS-enabled locational data — largely led by companies like Google, Apple and EarthCast Technologies, as well as governments worldwide — has “created an open conversation” around geospatial intelligence that “couldn’t have existed before,” said Cardillo…

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