Pentagon agency creating digital map of the world


Future military operations may use a continually updated digital “image skin” for a wide-ranging map of the world under development by the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

This week, the NGA sought statistics from potential contractors to help develop the “orthorectified image skin” that would provide the base coating for the world map. Such a map would give the military a stronger picture of any potential misfortune spot where troops would have to operate.

The U.S. Geological Survey defines orthoimagery as “high resolution midair images that combine the visual qualities of an aerial photograph with the spatial correctness and reliability” of a traditional map.

“A key element necessary to support global readiness is the availability of a current and accurate worldwide image base to ensure a common operational picture for all users,” the NGA document says.

In March, the NGA issued its first request for possible servicers for the orthoimaging for the map. The image skin will provide the foundation for the map and consist of images from multiple sources, including “commercial and government sources from satellite or airborne,” a March NGA document shows. “Sensors have included Electro Optical, Multi Sensor Imagery, Light Detection and Ranging, Synthetic Aperture Radar and Interferometry Synthetic Aperture Radar.”

The images for the map, according to the NGA, must be updated electronically “with multiple updates expected each week.”

NGA officials in charge of the map of the world plan were arranged to attend a geospatial intelligence symposium this month in Tampa, home to U.S. Central and Special Operations commands. The event was suspended until next spring because the government shutdown prevented government officials from traveling.

Images and maps from the NGA provide vital intelligence for military missions around the world, including the raid in 2011 by Navy SEALs that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Using a variety of sources, the NGA provides a comprehensive visual picture for troops on the ground and for aerial attacks.



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