This document represents the initial iteration of the NIMA Operations Directorate Vision document. Future iterations of this document can be expected to ensure that our vision stays ahead of our customers' information needs, and keeps pace with technology advancements. Achieving the objectives outlined in this document will allow the Agency to provide "world class" support to our customers, and guarantee the information edge, as we move into the twenty-first century.


Deputy Director for Operations



1.1    PURPOSE
2.    VISION


  3.2.1    Workgroups
3.2.2    Decisions Within the Workgroup
3.2.3    Decisions Outside the Workgroup
3.2.4    Scope of Geospatial Information Work Assignments (Jobs in the Jar)
3.2.5    Flexibility
3.2.6    Access to Data
3.2.7    Status Tracking
3.2.8    Partnerships
3.2.9    Production Requirements
3.2.10    Geospatial Information Production Planning
3.2.11    Production Information Management
  3.3.1    Universal Access
3.3.2    Customer Profiles
3.3.3    Information Dissemination Management
4.    PEOPLE

5.    TOOLS


6.1    DATA
  6.1.1    Data Storage
6.1.2    Data Accessibility


APPENDIX A:    Scenario

APPENDIX B:    Glossary


1.1    PURPOSE

This document presents a vision of how the NIMA (National Imagery and Mapping Agency) Operations Directorate (DO) will function in order to achieve significant improvements in productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction. The improvements are discussed in terms of operational objectives. This document will drive planning for the DO, particularly for the operational architecture and subsequent technology procurements for the organizational infrastructure and production. The DO aspires to the capabilities described in this document as rapidly as they can be delivered, but no later than the year 2003. A scenario depicting how the DO will support its customers is included in Appendix A. A glossary of terms is provided in Appendix B.


The formation of NIMA brought together operational entities with different missions. It also brought forward legacy procurements intended to address specific limitations as viewed from the perspective of the parent organizations. To address these issues, NIMA has set forth the strategic goals presented in Exhibit 1.

NIMA Strategic Goals:

  • Provide customers with seamless access to tailorable imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information -- not products
  • Make imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information available on short timelines at the lowest possible classification level
  • Obtain and use the best available information - whether commercial, government, or other sources
  • Use private sector services and best available technology to improve services to customers
Exhibit 1

The potential synergy inherent in NIMA offers an opportunity for complementary support to national policy, civil, and defense objectives not previously achievable. Four objectives emerge:

Achieving these objectives will require different processes, a different way of doing work, and different technical solutions than we have used in the past. Subsequent sections of this document explain how the DO will operate to achieve each of these objectives.


The following documents, both legacy and evolving, were used as reference material during the development of this Vision:

2.    VISION NIMA's mission is to provide timely, relevant, and accurate imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information in support of national security objectives. The DO, as NIMA's source acquisition, exploitation, and dissemination arm, sets the Agency's vision for how it will support this mission via the attainment of its operational objectives. These objectives reach into all of NIMA's core businesses: Information and Services Acquisition, Information Production, Information Access and Delivery, and Information Applications and Systems, as well as customer service and NIMA infrastructure. Achievement of these objectives will involve fundamental technical and operational changes to the way we conduct our business. Migrating today's operational capability will not guarantee successful achievement of our objectives, nor future mission success. Therefore, a number of fundamental changes are necessary to transform the DO into an organization that fully meets the demands of tomorrow's information service, while continuing to meet today's operational and support requirements. They are: The DO will establish work processes dominated by activity directly resulting in the satisfaction of customer information needs, by improving information production, information management, information leveraging, dissemination, and customer service. The Information Production business will be enhanced by eliminating duplicative activities, shortening cycle times, increasing use of externally produced data, making decisions at the lowest level, and expanding collaboration.

NIMA will provide internal and external customers with seamless access to the imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial data necessary to support their missions, regardless of where it resides. Partnerships and coalitions will enhance mutual understanding of capabilities and mission requirements, enabling the DO to focus the data and information services necessary to support customers' missions. Information and Services Acquisition, Information Access and Delivery, and Information Applications and Systems are the core NIMA businesses responsible for these aspects of NIMA's mission success. Although some elements of these core businesses are outside the DO, the DO will play a leadership role in establishing and strengthening NIMA's relationships with customers and assisting customer efforts to develop requirements for NIMA to satisfy.

In supporting NIMA's customers' missions, the DO will emphasize those characteristics of NIMA data and services that provide significant value-added to the customer. The DO will ensure that its data can be easily integrated with other data or into products produced by NIMA customers, and that NIMA-produced data incorporates a broad range of sources, as appropriate. Customer service, although not a core business area, must ensure customer satisfaction, which is the key measure of performance in each of NIMA's core businesses.

The DO will develop a work force that is able to apply a multidisciplinary approach to support customer mission success in a timely manner. Professional development will continue throughout the career of DO personnel, keeping them proficient in the latest technologies and tools to satisfy customer requirements.

NIMA will establish a production capability that enables the DO, its customers, and its partners to generate useful, high-quality, timely information. DO analysts will access the full range of NIMA tools and data from a single desktop.

A unified infrastructure of data, connectivity, and network security will enable the DO to be responsive in satisfying customer requirements. The infrastructure will operate at multiple levels of security and provide internal and external customers with access to NIMA data.

There may be organizational ramifications to accomplishing some of these goals. Development of the DO Operational Architecture will expose organizational implications of this Vision, and will clarify the steps the DO will need to take to reach these goals. The DO Vision is depicted in Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 2
The DO Vision


Objective: To establish NIMA work processes that effectively address the satisfaction of customer information needs

The DO effort to satisfy customer information needs will focus on four areas:

Future information production will be dominated by end-to-end production capability, where production decisions, authority, and control have been allocated to the workgroup. The focus will be on outcome, rather than tasks. Dissemination in the future will become increasingly electronic, and will feature one-stop shopping for NIMA-provided data and products. Information production and dissemination will evolve to enable the timely tailoring of NIMA data and products to meet specific customer needs. Centralized, deployed, and virtual customer service will dominate DO operations in the future, resulting in increased direct customer-producer interaction.


Acquiring quality and timely imagery source information is critical to the satisfaction of NIMA's strategic goals. To this end, the DO will be responsible for acquiring source imagery from all providers (national, airbreather, commercial, and foreign) for all customers, both internal and external. Additionally, the DO will be the single requirement approval authority for national technical means (NTM), national airbreather missions, and new commercial source tasking. Imagery requirements from all NIMA customers will be received and processed by the DO and tasked for satisfaction by the most appropriate source (existing holdings or new collection tasking).

To facilitate this function, the DO will establish an Integrated Imagery Management Center to efficiently leverage United States Imagery and Geospatial System (USIGS) resources to meet customer requirements. This center will consolidate customer collection requirements, review priorities, deconflict competing requirements, and manage primary imagery dissemination. Collection planning experts will use a single workstation to capture requirements metrics in light of existing holdings, active collection requirements, anticipated collection capabilities, and the availability of alternate sources. These metrics will be available for use with simulation tools to generate alternate tasking and collection scenarios, which will be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness of requirement satisfaction. Similar tools will be available on the desktop of NIMA analysts, who will also have the ability to submit requests for collection or modification of existing collection requirements.

In addition to managing imagery collection requirements, the DO will monitor imagery collection performance (e.g. image quality, collection limitations) and customer satisfaction. This information will be used to maximize the efficiency of imagery resource utilization. Collection tasking mechanisms will be flexible enough to adapt to any event, such as loss of a collector, surge/crisis response, or new collection capability.


The DO will evolve its information production process to be far more flexible and responsive than it is today. It will organize its people around common subject areas rather than systems and tool sets. NIMA personnel will have greater decision making authority over their own information production process, including more flexibility, greater access to data, and expanded relationships with the customers they serve. NIMA will produce new intelligence and geospatial information as technology, data availability, and customer needs evolve. The DO's production process will be based on three basic principles:

Changes in the information production process, described in detail in the paragraphs below, will be driven by the technology impacts summarized in Exhibit 3.
Technology Impacts:
  • The expected availability of powerful, flexible, easy-to-use tools at every workstation, which will permit a focus on analysis and judgment rather than use of the tools
  • More efficient use of electronic databases, which will reduce or eliminate duplicative data capture and permit a greater focus on interpreting and presenting information in most usable form
  • A wider range of imagery types and the option to use multiple sources in combination, which will continue to require an understanding of the sources and their limitations and how they can best be used for the subject or region under scrutiny
  • Electronic data deluge, which will demand both good judgment and better filtering processes in choosing which materials to use
Exhibit 3

3.2.1 Workgroups

Production in the DO will be organized around workgroups, the basic DO production cell. Workgroups may vary in size, be temporary or permanent, and align with or cross organizational boundaries. Where possible, members of a workgroup will be collocated; however, members may operate from remote locations as a "virtual workgroup," including other NIMA sites, work-at-home, contractor facilities, and customer sites. The establishment of new workgroups and the relocation of workgroups will be simple and achievable in minimal time. Ideally, this should be as easy as logging on to a workstation, either directly or remotely. Employees may move from one workstation to another and still access their personal desktops. Employees may belong to multiple workgroups. The focus of production for a workgroup may be a country or geographic region, or a functional issue, such as arms transfer, terrorism, or maintenance of nautical information, which spans more than one country or region.

The people in the workgroup will bring the full range of skills and knowledge required to fulfill the team's mission. While some workgroups may focus on geospatial information or imagery intelligence, they may include both imagery intelligence analysis and geospatial expertise; they may also include specialists in photogrammetry, graphic production, or collection management. For example, workgroups with a geographic focus may include intelligence experts monitoring issues and facilities in the region, and experts in all of the uses of geospatial data for the region (e.g., point target positioning, sea navigation).

Regional workgroups will foster synergy between intelligence exploitation and production of certain kinds of geospatial data (e.g., precision targeting, identification of vertical obstructions, maintenance of airfield data, and maintenance of port data to support digital nautical charts). Out of such environments may arise new kinds of specialists, such as a rail network specialist who maintains all the railroad information for the region and produces not only geospatial coverages, but intelligence analyses as well.

Workgroups will be responsible for managing, controlling, and accomplishing all work in their area of responsibility or issue, for knowing the status of data, knowing the status of sources or potential sources for updating or upgrading data, and knowing what is going on in domestic intelligence and geospatial offices that might affect their area or issue. They will be expected to maintain their customers' readiness with respect to the data and products they produce. Workgroups will cultivate relationships with external organizations or people who might offer source materials or updates. For example, a workgroup may have personal exchanges with some or all of the harbor masters in their area of interest, or members of a workgroup specializing in arms control issues may develop professional relationships with personnel from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, or academia. Workgroups will be autonomous bodies that are expected to maintain customer readiness, replace perishable data, or respond to immediate customer needs with minimal managerial control of their processes and activities. They will have ample data storage and processing capability to use as they see fit.

3.2.2    Decisions Within the Workgroup

To minimize handoffs and to bring the workgroup's topic expertise to bear on all aspects of the problem, workgroups will be self-directed, and will have end-to-end responsibility, as appropriate, for a production requirement, including selecting source materials, geopositioning imagery, mosaicking imagery and other source, exploiting source, integrating produced data, and generating a wide range of tailored products built from the base coverages that represent the most current and accurate data NIMA holds. Each workgroup will allocate the people and equipment assigned to it. The workgroup will have full accountability for accuracy, currency, classification and releasability, consistency, and completeness of the data they maintain and the products they generate. Quality indicators will be recorded automatically as metadata is generated.

Workgroups will maintain and monitor a list to keep abreast of volatile priorities for specific customer requests. They will be responsible for producing new base coverages, monitoring intelligence issues, and maintaining data. Maintenance and standing requirements will also be the responsibility of the team. Workgroups will set internal priorities for data maintenance and integration of value-added data produced by other organizations, in accordance with such general guidelines as:

The workgroup will determine the best way to accomplish its work. Workgroups will work with customer support teams and customers to determine when general currency evaluations are required and when to issue new editions of graphic products and other tailored outputs that are derived from base coverages, as well as to establish general priorities, set specific objectives, and acknowledge an immediate need. They will routinely work closely with other workgroups, and with employees of other organizations, and will help each other as external events call for increased efforts in a particular geographic region or on a particular intelligence problem. Surge efforts may require the collaborative work of many workgroups over a very small geographic area or an intelligence issue.

Workgroups will have the authority to decide if or how to break jobs into internal assignments, what tools to use, what source to use, how to prioritize the work, and who should work on what pieces. They will have the ability to initiate a collection request where there is a shortfall in source. The workgroup will identify shortfall skill requirements and may participate in the selection process for personnel assignments for their own workgroup.

3.2.3    Decisions Outside the Workgroup

Workgroups will have a certain level of autonomy because each workgroup will have the resources to do its own work, shortening turnaround times for tangible outputs. However, some decisions will still need to be made above the workgroup level. For example, standards for consistency in output will be centrally controlled. Decisions that affect multiple workgroups or the achievement of Agency or DO objectives will be controlled above the workgroup level. Where data conflicts arise among the results from multiple workgroups, such as in overlapping or adjacent areas of interest, the resolution of such conflicts will be managed above the workgroup level, with the cooperation of the concerned workgroups. As long as information demand continues to exceed NIMA's production and brokering capacity, resource allocation across competing customer priorities and workgroups will be centrally coordinated.

Any reallocation of people and resources will be quick and efficient, without loss of work in progress or disruption to the organization. Managers will have access to an on-line directory of analysts' experience with specific issues or geographic areas. For example, in a crisis NIMA may assign many people to geospatial data extraction or to a specific intelligence issue. In a very short time, NIMA will be able to put a wide range of skills, tools, and expertise productively to work on a specific issue, and the newly-assembled team will have ready access to all of NIMA's holdings.

Key to effective decision making inside and outside the workgroup will be the ready availability of information. Information will automatically flow from the workgroup to higher levels in the organization. The mechanism for accomplishing this is the use of common databases for multiple purposes. Additionally, it will be possible to "hot-link" workgroup information into tables, reports, spreadsheets, and graphics for quick access to the latest information. This resource will allow consistent views of production activity in support of timely decision making. Standard COTS packages will be the tools used to assist decision making. Gathering of management information and generation of management data will not impose unnecessary restrictions on the production process. Production teams, managers, customer support personnel, and system operators will use a wide range of data-driven, graphical tools to monitor changes in production priorities, resource usage, and data production. For example, they will use metrics and map overlays to review production status or the impact of resource reallocations under consideration on customer mission readiness. This capability will be available to production teams, system operators, managers, and customer support personnel.

3.2.4    Scope of Geospatial Information Work Assignments (Jobs in the Jar)

This section discusses geospatial work assignments because they require substantially more time and resources than the relatively quick turnaround, geographically compact, flexible imagery intelligence production process.

Workgroups will produce and revise geospatial data in varying size tiles that align on longitude and latitude. The workgroup will also have the flexibility to build and maintain some data as individual features, within discrete coverages. Multiple cartographers will be able to work on different types of features simultaneously in the same geographic area without blocking access to those features from others. Where the need and source availability extend over larger geographic areas, cartographers may work over large areas in order to be as efficient as possible. When customer needs are more localized or source availability is limited, the DO may work in smaller tiles. Ideally, the workgroup should have complete control of tile size, setting it at the time an assignment is determined, but have the flexibility to easily change it as the job proceeds. Customers may receive incremental deliveries of data for the same geographic area. Changes to specifications for accuracy and content will be implemented only at tile boundaries.

In the future, the scope of many of our geospatial production assignments will change as we take advantage of an integrated database. Ideally, the workgroup will first create foundation data and follow with the enhancement of that data based on specific mission needs. Assignments will be structured to take advantage of existing data, enhancing, modifying, and updating it as resources and needs dictate. We will eliminate standalone production threads, such as the generation of Bathymetric Planning Charts and creation of Vertical Obstruction Data, choosing instead to derive such products from the database. Other processes, like generation of notices to mariners, maintenance of digital nautical charts and nautical charts, generation of aeronautical information, graphics, and charts, and creation of ARC digitized raster graphics, will be collapsed into single production threads that enable a single activity to fulfill multiple purposes. Thus data will be maintained one time, and the authoritative repository of "most current and accurate" data will be the central production repository.

Often, the DO will "bundle" production of quick turnaround activities over the same geographic area. A single workgroup will produce or maintain multiple coverages, at the same time, from the same sources. For example, when a new intelligence target is identified, the full set of foundation layers may be produced or updated while the facility baseline is being prepared. Bundling has several advantages over current production processes:

3.2.5    Flexibility

Workgroups will use tools available with commercial packages (e.g., macros, templates) to save time and money or improve the quality of their work. Workgroups may devise new uses for generic software or alter the sequence of steps in existing processes. Workgroups will have the ability to modify their processes by using COTS programming tools. Different teams may opt to work with different applications and will easily insert them into local processes. Both formal and informal mechanisms will be in place to permit sharing innovations among workgroups.

Workgroups will be adept at integrating multiple types of images to support wide-area extraction of geographic data and to build image products for customer use. Analysts will choose the most appropriate method of integrating multiple sources for the particular assignment at hand. Choices will include mosaicking data from different sensors, overlaying one kind of data on another, or viewing individual sources in separate windows. Work performed on multiple sources will be flexible, permitting the operator to decide whether to integrate or fuse the sources as work progresses, or the results of various activities.

Desktop tools will apprise analysts of significant "boundaries" (e.g., change of sensor) within mosaicked source material but will permit seamless extraction of data across source types. Workgroups will have the ability to display data in many different ways, (e.g. as centerline information or as symbolized information). They will have the ability to toggle between the two or to overlay one on another, with the source as a backdrop.

Workgroups may use symbology to identify features or objects of intelligence or mapping interest, along with specific attributes they possess. The tools will translate the symbology into structured descriptions, with associated geographic locations and metadata, and allocate them to the appropriate thematic layer and tile.

Intercoverage validation and verification may be performed as coverages are completed or while extraction is under way, at the discretion of the workgroup. The decision may be based on characteristics of the work assignment (e.g., region, sources, tools used).

3.2.6    Access to Data

Each workgroup will have access to all NIMA data (subject to security and privacy restrictions) and to all the tools NIMA has at its disposal. Workgroup members will select data access tools via common icons from their desktop environment, to peruse available information sources, including data from the production database, imagery from various providers, value-added data supplied by customers, legacy data, current NIMA holdings, and data available from other producers.

Data elements will be stored one time within the production database. Production users may access that data either for update or as "read only" information. Although customers will not have access to the production database, they will have continuous access to NIMA-produced information (library holdings, warehouse products, and warehouse data sets) immediately upon their release from the DO production database. Production users will also have the ability to access and exploit NIMA library holdings, warehouse products, and warehouse data sets. See Exhibit 4.


Exhibit 4
Accessing NIMA Data and Holdings

Analysts will supplement NIMA holdings with imagery, other geospatial data, and reference materials drawn from many external sources, both government and non-government, accessed from the analysts' desktops. Data access methods will include standard library queries, permitting search by region, subject, author, title, key word, or source ID, etc.

In addition to integrating data from external sources into NIMA-originated data sets, NIMA will adjust and augment COTS data with information from the national security community. NIMA may store only the adjusted or augmented data, with users drawing the commodity data directly from the vendor site using NIMA-provided dissemination tools. Similarly, NIMA customers and internal users may download previously-purchased images from vendor data stores without staging the data through a central NIMA facility. NIMA applications and data stores will accept data in multiple formats, from a variety of media.

Workgroups will have the capability and expertise to take full advantage of new information sources as they become available. Analysts will be able to access and use newly arrived material at any point in the production process. In addition, they will have visibility into new collection processes to determine if and when new information will be available. When entirely new kinds of sources are developed, NIMA analysts will be able to access and exploit them from the desktop, and workgroups will have the analytic expertise to take advantage of them. All data in NIMA stores will be flagged to indicate its origin.

Individual analysts may build custom profiles or templates for selecting and ranking alternative sources and for filtering and delivering new receipts. They will perform iterative searches to refine the search results; in addition, they may "bookmark" specific sources or flag other materials for exclusion from future search results.

3.2.7    Status Tracking

Information and data necessary to assess the progress of work, workgroup productivity, and system performance will be generated automatically, without hindering the production process, and will be available for use by appropriate personnel within the DO. It will be possible to establish metrics, graphics, and reports that are updated automatically as new status data is generated. It will also be possible to aggregate such data into metrics, graphics, and reports that give a broader perspective of parent organization units, or decompose the data into fundamental units that allow the assessment of individual process components. The metrics, graphics, and reports will be user definable from standard COTS packages and will permit direct links to databases containing status information.

Metrics will be available to use in evaluations, projections, and "what if" analyses, using desktop tools. Outputs will be traceable back to the production requirement, mission readiness, production process, or workgroup in order to provide work status, interim information/data delivery, and finished product delivery to the customer.

3.2.8    Partnerships

The DO will share production responsibilities with other organizations, be they co-producers, other government agencies, or contractors, based on the underlying principles discussed above. NIMA will seek to minimize handoffs between organizations and will seek to certify producers as fully responsible for data quality. For example, a contractor may produce the entire suite of foundation coverages rather than perform an individual task. Contractors and co-producers will have access to NIMA databases and libraries to select sources and to deliver finished data. They will also have access to the work assignments for their areas of responsibility.

Contractors and co-producers may be fully integrated into production workgroups. Potentially, a workgroup may be composed entirely of contractors and/or co-producers.

3.2.9    Production Requirements

Customers will continue to make requests of NIMA for both standard products and for tailored support. Additional understanding of customer needs will be gained by monitoring information usage of the products on our warehouse servers. Requirements will be identified several ways: customer mission profiles, requests for tailored data, requests for traditional products, and standing or maintenance-due requirements. In the near term, DO anticipates that customer requirements will far exceed existing data and DO's capacity to address that need. Therefore, production activity will continue to be prioritized by customer mission readiness. NIMA will continue to be active in defining strategies for addressing broad intelligence issues and geospatial information requirements.

Regardless of the mechanisms used to submit requirements, NIMA will record them in a systematic way, track them through satisfaction, and respond to day-to-day changes in customer requirements and priorities. Customers and NIMA analysts will use graphical presentations, including map overlays, to review customer requirements and their impact on customer readiness. Analysts will use desktop tools to compare available data to the customer's request, to evaluate potential substitute products, and to record the results of currency or metric evaluations.

During this period, the DO will use automated tools to break down the net customer requirements for geospatial data into prioritized, specific production assignments. These tools will enable the DO to evaluate, validate, and prioritize specific work assignments. DO analysts will use graphical presentations to analyze consolidated requirements and the impact of production priorities on customer readiness.

Requirements satisfaction will be achieved through requests for warehouse and library holdings or new source acquisition. Most often these needs will be accommodated through reformatting or tailoring data, or by specific analysis leading to production of geospatial information or imagery intelligence on relatively short timelines. Our intent is to migrate all DO production to extremely short time cycles. Then NIMA can more readily accommodate shifts in customer priorities, without loss of work in progress. The current labor-intensive requirements management process will be replaced by a dynamic queue reflecting current customer priorities.

3.2.10    Geospatial Information Production Planning

Geospatial information production planning necessitates estimating production over a given period of time, based on net customer requirements, priorities, skills and availability of the workforce, data on hand, and expected use of resources. Production forecasts will include NIMA, co-producer, and contracted production. The DO will use simple yet robust, flexible modeling and simulation tools to develop strategies to optimize use of contractor, co-production, and in-house resources. The forecasting and assignment breakdown processes will identify and generate imagery requirements.

3.2.11    Production Information Management

Production information management encompasses several processes that revolve around different process metrics as well as around the physical information and its integrity and accessibility for production use. Process metrics include things like process time ("tube" time), process steps, and response times. Management processes revolving around the physical information, its integrity, and its accessibility, include:

Understanding the available holdings requires understanding the specifications under which previously derived information was collected so that, as specifications change, updates can be made efficiently. From both an integrity and information management standpoint, the processes of versioning information as well as version control need to be tracked.

Maintaining production data stores must include a dynamic data dictionary that will change as the need dictates, without affecting existing holdings, while maintaining the ability to output previously produced information and products.

Identifying and resolving deficiencies requires activities that will be executed through the exploitation of tools using simple, yet robust graphics interfaces, conflation and data fusion techniques, state-of-the-art configuration management tools, and database management capabilities. They will allow the rapid assessment and modification through direct access to workgroup tools.

Assessing production data includes production management information processes that will establish and maintain user access and privileges. The recording and maintenance of this user access information will be accomplished in a timely fashion. In addition, once the user has access to a particular system or capability, those privileges will be easily transferred to those same systems or capabilities in other locations.

Production information management will also control the flow of data between security levels and compartments. Data will flow from lower classification levels to higher, from lower access levels to higher, and into compartmented programs. Movement of data and products in the opposite direction will require automated security tools performing a gatekeeping function. It is expected that access to lower levels from higher levels will be direct and without replication of data between environments. Production information management will also control the flow of data and products from the production database to the customer-accessible warehouse.


NIMA will provide internal and external customers with secure, seamless access to imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial data necessary to support their missions regardless of where the information physically resides. The DO will disseminate and provide access to primary imagery, geospatial data and products, imagery intelligence data and products, various libraries (e.g., National Information Library, Mapping Charting & Geodesy, Command Information Library), and hardcopy products and media (e.g., digital data cassette, 8 mm tape, compact disk).

The dissemination process is directly driven by customers' needs. In the future, a considerably larger percentage of NIMA data will be delivered electronically. This increase in electronic dissemination will be required to accommodate the significant increase in volume and diversity of data required by the users, and the need for more frequent updating of available data. The dissemination process will support the user's need for rapid, flexible, and reliable access to data. This vision for dissemination can be characterized by three basic principles:

3.3.1    Universal Access

NIMA customers will view the dissemination process as a single system that provides continuous and convenient access to NIMA-produced and NIMA-brokered data. Selected technology will be employed to maximize the speed and reliability of customer access. NIMA's customer-accessible data stores will be accessed through standardized user interfaces and standard machine specifications. Formatted data and products will be released to the customer-accessible data store from the production data store, normally on completion of a production task. Users will have access to precise search and query tools with user-friendly interfaces to define their search criteria as broadly or narrowly as their requirements dictate.

The DO will establish an electronic ordering system that will allow customers to select the data they require from NIMA's vast holdings. Customers will be able to choose the media and format of the data they require. Although the majority of data will be disseminated electronically, some customers will still require hardcopy or portable-electronic media. Where electronic dissemination is used, the customer will elect whether to acquire the data via a push or pull method from the data source. Where hardcopy or portable-electronic media are chosen, the customer will be able to specify the means of delivery. Finally, the customer will be able to select from a wide variety of data formats in which to receive their data. This approach will provide users the most flexible and responsive access to NIMA's data, much like that used in the private sector, where, for example, an airline customer can check flight schedules and fares, establish a reservation, and purchase a ticket with a credit card through the airline's Internet homepage, without ever waiting for a response from another person, and without any special training.

3.3.2    Customer Profiles

The DO will use customer profiles to improve the efficiency of the dissemination process. Accurate and detailed customer data profiles ensure customers get the precise data they require without reviewing extraneous data. Customer profiles delineate the types of data a customer has access to and whether the data is pushed or pulled. Customer-profiled "smart push" data will automatically be distributed to customer data stores ensuring synchronization and timeliness. A customer profile will include data such as:

Although some human interaction in data dissemination will never be replaced, NIMA will use smart software tools that constantly examine the stores of data available and alert customers of newly released data or products that match their profiles. Such smart tools can schedule the actual dissemination of the data at times when communication lines are under-used and maximize the efficiency of the communication networks. These software tools will have the ability to identify additional data requirements not currently available to meet customer needs.

3.3.3    Information Dissemination Management

Information dissemination management is the process of acquiring, receiving, safeguarding, and distributing information. It ensures maximum efficiency in organizing, linking, categorizing, and distributing information and information products. User interfaces to data (e.g., web pages) will be user friendly and robust enough to allow one to "drill" through all available information to locate the specific data required.

A major responsibility of information dissemination management is the synchronization of data. While NIMA will forward deploy as much data as is practical, updated data will be readily available at any deployed location via smart push or user pull. As new versions of foundation data are produced, updates will be propagated. Customers will automatically receive the updated foundation data to ensure that a "common view" is maintained throughout the community.


Customer service and what it means to provide customer service is an emerging concept within the DO. At a minimum, DO's goal is to ensure that customers have all the imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information they need, when they need it, and in a usable format, to execute their missions successfully. To a greater extent, this will mean the manipulation, tailoring, and creation of data to meet specific customer requests. This will be accomplished at NIMA sites and, to an increasing extent, over time, at the customer site. The DO will constantly emphasize customer support and continually enhance its customer support capabilities as technology and resources allow.

NIMA will be introducing new forms of geospatial information and imagery intelligence as technology, data availability, and customer needs change. Customers may require capture of new kinds of data or preparation of new combinations of previously collected data.

The DO will transition from a supplier-consumer relationship, in which delivering products to satisfy customers is the definition of success, to a joint, cooperative relationship in which success is defined as complete customer satisfaction with imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information support to the customer's mission. This philosophy will foster more direct analyst/customer relationships, as well as partnerships, built around coalitions established to achieve common objectives that contribute to the successful execution of the customer's mission.

Coalitions will consist of NIMA and its partners, and may also include NIMA's co-producers, contractors, other Intelligence Community and Department of Defense (DoD) organizations, civil agencies, and other nations' intelligence and mapping organizations. Within NIMA, coalitions may include a variety of experts, including imagery analysts, tasking officers, imagery scientists, regional cartographers, marine and aeronautical information specialists, source acquisition specialists, information dissemination officers, and database specialists.

Coalitions will work closely together to accomplish a mission and will strengthen the relationship between NIMA and its customers, as well as other Intelligence Community, civil, and DoD organizations. Partnerships and coalitions with our customers will result in mutual understanding of capabilities and mission requirements, enabling the DO to precisely define the data and services necessary to support customers' missions.

On-site liaison officers and technical representatives will continue to provide customized and personalized services. To support coalitions, all members of the customer support teams may augment the on-site representatives, providing additional imagery, geospatial, technical, and tasking experts. An increased emphasis on providing on-site NIMA expertise to customers is a key element of the value added by NIMA, and will afford the DO an increased ability to recognize specific customer information needs and tailor production accordingly. Because the customer support teams cannot be everywhere at all times, the DO will leverage state-of-the-art technology to help customers in all possible ways. On-line application guides, electronic performance support systems, on-site/off- site training, and 24-hour help desks will provide readily available assistance to our customers at all times.

To provide NIMA and its customers with the relevant expertise at a moment's notice, a secure on-line database of expertise will list the person or persons that currently work a specific area or the expert on a specific topic. Available via a simple query (e.g., "China, missiles, North Korea"), the database will provide the name, phone number, specific organization, and e-mail address for the individual and workgroup that works the area or issue (e.g., China missile sales to North Korea). Our customers and partners will be invited to add their own experts to this database to provide NIMA operations personnel access to their counterparts.

4.    PEOPLE

Objective: To establish a work force with the expertise to satisfy customer requests for information and information services, and, in some cases, to anticipate customer needs

The DO will transition to an integrated workforce organized into multidisciplinary workgroups and supplemented by a strategic reserve. Integrated, highly skilled workgroups will begin to develop within the workforce with the physical collocation of cartographers, imagery analysts, and support personnel who focus their efforts on the common objective of providing end-to-end production in support of customer needs. The DO's goal will be for the Directorate to have the appropriate level of resources on all production issues and all skills. Collocation and working similar issues and regions will stimulate the natural curiosities of DO personnel who will begin to share expertise, skills, perspectives, and culture. Cross-training provided by the National Imagery and Mapping College (NIMC) will expedite the learning process by providing formal training in skills, concepts, and tools. Integrating parts of the DO workforce will lead to synergy opportunities never before envisioned and will begin to develop a NIMA culture. Ultimately, the DO will create a workforce working together to satisfy the customers' needs.

To supplement the workforce, the DO will implement a strategic reserve. When crisis or high-priority projects necessitate shifting cadre analysts from their normal workload to the crisis or high-priority issue, the strategic reservists will augment the cadre personnel to maintain continuity in all areas of production. Implementation of this strategic reserve will be facilitated by the wealth of experienced cartographers and imagery analysts, and the expected development of an infrastructure and production process that allows rapid reallocation of personnel and resources. The development of partnerships and coalitions, and the expanded role of contractors (including retired or former NIMA personnel) and co-producers, will facilitate the development of internal and external reserve assets similar to the military reserve system. The NIMC, in cooperation with the intelligence and geospatial production workgroups that would use these reservists, will oversee the development of a training course followed by on-the-job training. These trained reservists will then augment the production areas for a minimum period each year and whenever mandated by crisis. In addition to expanding their own set of skills, these reservists will also share their expertise.

Initially, new employees will receive orientation training in knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) that are applicable to both geospatial and intelligence production. Following this common training, personnel will attend specialized training in a particular area of expertise. The specialized training will focus on our core disciplines of imagery, imagery intelligence, or geospatial information production and information services, and will take place in a realistic environment that mirrors the working environment in which the analysts will be expected to apply the learned skills. Where common courses, such as photo interpretation, are currently taught separately to geospatial and imagery intelligence personnel, instruction will be consolidated in the future into a single course.

Underlying this transition is the importance of sustained professional development of all employees throughout their career. Professional development is a joint responsibility of the employee and the organization. Each employee is ultimately responsible for his/her career by active involvement (government time/resources and personal time/resources) in professional development activities. Management responsibilities include providing institutional career models and enabling resources (work time and funding) for professional development. Management support for continuing professional development of all NIMA personnel is critical to the success of this organization. Management will support the broadening of skills, expertise, and customer partnerships via recognition, monetary awards, job selection, and promotion. Continued professional development will be emphasized and will be made possible by the availability of formal and informal training opportunities.

Formal training provided by the NIMC, other government agencies, commercial vendors, and educational institutions will be optimized. NIMA will continue to offer robust tuition assistance programs, a long-term, full-time training program, and participation in the DoD service schools. The NIMC will focus on intermediate- and advanced-level specialization training, in addition to the common foundation training for new hires. Cross-training and familiarization courses will provide opportunities for established imagery analysts, cartographers, and support personnel to learn new skills and perspectives.

Use of intuitive tools and applications, computer-based training aids, and mobile training teams will proliferate from NIMA to its customers. Effective training will be accomplished by teaching the tools and applications on the same infrastructure the student will actually use in production. For example, the Requirements Management System (RMS) training was a success story because it was conducted on working RMS terminals using real-life scenarios.

Participation in customer exercises and temporary work assignments at customer sites will provide on-the-job training as well as unique opportunities to increase the DO's understanding of the mission requirements and priorities of the customer. Temporary assignments in other NIMA organizations, as well as visits to customers, coalition partners, and community colleagues will also be learning opportunities for DO personnel. Other informal opportunities for professional development include:

An example of an analytical multidisciplinary workgroup is depicted in Exhibit 5.
Exhibit 5
Analytical Multidisciplinary Workgroup (Example)
In addition to the concepts discussed above, employees will also be able to work from home or from convenient telecommuting facilities. Combined with the flexibility already inherent in the existing alternate work schedule policy, this will enable NIMA employees to take advantage of these training and other professional development opportunities.

5.    TOOLS

Objective: To establish a production capability that enables NIMA to generate meaningful information that meets the time frame and quality standards expected by the customer.

High-performance, high-end, intelligent, image processing, COTS workstations will provide the means for operations personnel to do all their work at their desks. The workstations will provide the means to produce and manage information quickly, with multilevel security. The workstations will be sized to perform any necessary task. Given the volume of imagery and non-imagery sources, the workstations must be able to process large volumes of imagery and non-imagery data securely, quickly, and reliably. The workstations will provide a set of intuitive tools, with computer-based training aids, accessible via desktop icons to initiate such capabilities as:

The tools will exist in an open architecture. They will be modular so that one can be replaced or modified with minimal impact. All users will have the same software version. Updates will be installed electronically with no impact to production. Workstation operating systems and applications will maximize the use of COTS products and tools. Custom code will be written to link applications. Custom applications will only be developed when COTS capabilities are not available.

Where possible, the workstations within a workgroup will share a common electronic work space to ensure collaboration and information consistency. The analyst will have the capability to store work in progress for rapid retrieval and completion at a later time, thereby enhancing flexibility and production efficiency. Production processing will occur on the workstation itself, the workgroup server, and at the central processor. Exhibit 6 is a notional representation of a common desktop.


Exhibit 6
Common Desktop (Example)


Objective: To establish a NIMA infrastructure for secure connectivity and databases that will enable timely satisfaction of NIMA production and customer information requirements.

A unified infrastructure will enable the DO to be responsive in satisfying customer requirements. The infrastructure will provide NIMA analysts and customers with reliable access to the imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial data in the most timely, secure manner.

The infrastructure will adapt as needed without interrupting production activities or customer access. It will also support technology insertion, such as improved tools for data management, upgraded communication technology, enhanced security technology, and infrastructure management tools. DO expectations for the infrastructure will be addressed in three areas:

6.1    DATA

For the purpose of this document, DO data is categorized into three types: libraries of source holdings; production data stores; and warehouse stores of information and products accessible by DO's customers. Libraries may contain original source, imagery and non-imagery, as well as processed imagery products (i.e., Controlled Image Base, Digital Point Production Database). Both customers and internal DO personnel require access to library holdings.

It is envisioned that production data stores should remain separated from library and warehouse holdings to ensure information integrity and consistency prior to customer access. As such, access to production data stores is restricted to internal DO personnel. Our production data stores must support the ability to derive tailored and standard views from a foundation of information to meet diverse customer needs.

The warehouse stores will house customer-accessible information following completion of the production processes. In support of crisis situations, in-process information can be moved to the warehouse stores with the appropriate "use at your own risk" caveat.

In contrast to the "process-centric" systems in place today, the future will be "information-centric." Data, data management, and data access will be independent of applications, and applications will use data in commercially supported exchange formats. Production data will generally be stored one time (except for backup) with multiple users accessing it. Data redundancy will be eliminated in the production database. Data within the production database will also be highly integrated, and inconsistencies between data will be eliminated. Data may be replicated directly, reformatted, or converted to a product when passed to the customer-accessible warehouse. Data storage will support powerful search engines, allowing users to find the data they need quickly, securely, and easily. It is anticipated that production searches and other operations on the data will be substantively different from customer searches; therefore, unique database designs on the production side and the warehouse side may be warranted. For example, production data will be structured to best support checkout, update, checkin, value-adding, and versioning down to the feature level, as well as to accommodate changes in the data model, with little or no change in physical database structure. In addition, data will be structured in ways that permit insertion of new applications software and new technology for data management with little or no reprocessing of the data.

NIMA data will outlive multiple generations of applications and data management software. For example, some classes of feature data will not require revision for 20 years or more, and access to archived imagery intelligence reporting will always be required.

6.1.1    Data Storage

The anticipated increase in imagery volume and diversity necessitate a fast, precise, and thorough search and retrieval capability. The infrastructure must accommodate the increased volumes of NIMA and commercial imagery including multi-, hyper-, and ultraspectral imagery. The infrastructure must also support large volumes of diverse data other than imagery, including free text data (e.g., intelligence reports), structured data (e.g., metadata), and geospatial data (e.g., elevation matrices, feature data).

All NIMA information products will be retained in digital form, and multiple versions of selected classes of data may be retained. Data organization will be consistent across all levels of security classification. NIMA will store and manage the following types of digital holdings:

Geospatial and intelligence data will be clearly identified with descriptive metadata. Customer-provided value-added data will be stored in the data store suitable for the type of data delivered; its status will clearly indicate whether NIMA has evaluated the data and what quality designation NIMA has assigned.

Additional holdings will include customer mission profiles, along with corresponding data requirements and priorities; administrative data to support dissemination; production requirements, priorities, and status; production forecasts and past performance summaries; source requests and status; security classifications; and DO production management data. NIMA will continue to store and use some hardcopy reference materials and to track circulation on those that cannot be reproduced for analyst use. They will be described in a digital library accessible from the desktop. Specific items that are digitized for a specific use will be retained as part of a digital collection when they have value beyond their initial use. Production analysts will maintain a single master copy of information.

6.1.2    Data Accessibility

Access to both NIMA data holdings and data held by other organizations will be driven by the need for rapid location of specific data, access by multiple applications, and security access profiles. Both NIMA users and NIMA customers will have access to the data 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Customer-accessible data will be separated from production data.

Users will search for and rapidly locate data using ad hoc and pre-defined searches. They will select among various state-of-the-art interfaces (e.g., dynamic outline maps, text-only displays, text and image displays, hypertext) to specify search criteria and view results. Users will use both simple and highly sophisticated queries based on geographic location and a highly descriptive set of structured metadata descriptors, including keywords.

Geographic data sets will be subject to a range of geographic variables, based on topology, distance, connectivity, and other forms of interdependency such as temporal and functional, in addition to searches based on feature type and attributes. Document databases can be searched using full-text search capabilities. Selected categories of imagery can be searched based on texture or other indicators of image content.


The connectivity infrastructure will support the workgroup organization, telecommuting, and will ensure that universal and secure access to NIMA data is available when, where, and how NIMA users and customers require it. NIMA customers and internal users will have continuous and convenient access to data and to each other, using technology selected to maximize speed and reliability. NIMA and its customers will be connected by a common communications infrastructure. The infrastructure will support access to all of the data, regardless of where it resides, and to all of the people, no matter where they are physically located.

Integration of networks will enhance user convenience and operational efficiency while improving performance and ensuring reliability. The DO will support maximizing the efficiency of networks to reduce the number of separate communication lines to which NIMA and the customer must maintain access. Stability of networks and the need for redundancy must be considered. The integrated network may encompass multiple technologies, e.g., broadcast and point-to-point systems. The communications network will support bidirectional exchange of large volumes of data.


Our security aspirations include the ability to pass information between security levels, and compartments within a security level, without human intervention, using increasingly automated tools to perform the security gatekeeping functions.

The lowest security level possible will always be the desired security environment. The infrastructure will allow access to data stores and communication networks at multiple levels of security from a single desktop, during a single session. Today's picture is far more pessimistic. Analysts will be able to extract selected data from one classification level and export it to a different classification level. The mechanisms that facilitate these capabilities will be unobtrusive to the work environment and convenient for the analyst.

NIMA will continue to protect data provided for national security use subject to established access restrictions, including classification, need-to-know, copyright, limited distribution, and other releasability constraints. The security infrastructure will protect access to data with minimal administrative overhead.


Achievement of our objectives, especially through insertion of technology, must consider todayís operational situation. We must accommodate ongoing production while mitigating those aspects of our business that impede and accentuating those aspects which enhance. Operational trades must be made in the context of near-term objectives and long-term capability. Technical trades should only be considered in light of the operational consequences.  

These areas of concern have major impacts on NIMA operations, and consequently, on the customer. Any technical advancement that fails to recognize and accommodate these operational realities is, at the least, incomplete and may be, nonresponsive to the need.



Future DO production will be revolutionized by the adoption of the workgroup organizational construct and the shift to an "information-centric" maintenance environment from which both standard and tailored views will be derived to meet the customers information needs. Coalition building within virtual workgroups, to include NIMA analysts, customer support representatives, customers, co-producers, and contractors, will permit the DO to assume the readiness posture necessary for customer mission success. Universal access to data stores (NIMA and brokered), using web-based technology, will be the prevailing means by which customer requirements are satisfied. A robust connectivity, security, and data infrastructure will support the production and dissemination process. This robust infrastructure will link to a common desktop where all necessary tools will be available to permit "one stop shopping" for each NIMA analyst.


The Vision document will be updated on a periodic basis to remain current with respect to changing technology, NIMA's changing mission, and changes in production strategies and processes (e.g., front-end processing, geopositioning, boxing). Continual analysis of performance metrics will allow the DO to measure its success in this environment of evolution and change. In that context, one key performance indicator outweighs all others: NIMA's customers' satisfaction with imagery and geospatial support to their mission readiness.

APPENDIX A: Scenario

The paragraphs below depict NIMA support to a military operation in the year 2003. The scenario describes the DO response to a growing crisis culminating in a retaliatory strike by the United States and coalition partners against Country X.


The United States, allied with three western countries, is planning a retaliatory strike against County X for supporting a terrorist incident. The Defense and Intelligence Communities have been at a heightened state of alert since the incident, and have already initiated additional collection and reporting on Country X and the terrorist groups it is sponsoring.


NIMA responds to the heightened state of alert by establishing a "virtual" workgroup. By the time NIMA is requested to support the retaliatory strike, the group already consists mainly of those members of the Country X workgroup already working that country but also includes analysts from the Terrorism Workgroup, the NIMA Operations Center, the St. Louis Mensuration Points Workgroup, the Pentagon Targeteers, and liaisons to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all-source offices responsible for Country X, as well as a synergistic support team to support the increase in information production. Universal access and the common desktop negate any need to reconfigure the physical workspace.

The request for support results in an expansion of the workgroup to include imagery and geospatial personnel from each of the three western coalition countries' intelligence services, as well as NIMA customer support teams located in the coalition countries. This expansion affords these personnel equal participation in the "virtual workgroup." The availability of numerous sources and the common practice of working in the lowest security level possible allow the working relationship to remain unhindered by security concerns.

Most of the selected targets have current Operational Support Packages available, but 10 do not. The Joint Staff requests that NIMA and DIA produce these missing packages. Workgroup imagery analysts and cartographers examine available source files and immediately send tasking messages from their desktops for needed collection. By dividing the tasking among various collectors, the Integrated Imagery Management Center is able to lessen the competition burden and collect all of the requested imagery within a few days. Meanwhile, target information is coordinated among all elements of the virtual workgroup and production begins on those targets for which source is available.

Intelligence and geospatial information from all collectors is produced and stored electronically, as layers of mission-specific information transposed over foundation data stored in the same database. Customers, using NIMA-supplied tools and hardware, with the assistance of on-site NIMA customer support personnel, download and print from the database standard "map," or customized views they desire, with any intelligence or geospatial information they choose, overlaid on the "map." As various layers of information are completed, they are stored in the warehouse and posted on Intelink. Within the allotted timeframe, all of the information is posted, and the customers can download the complete Operational Support Package for each target.

APPENDIX B: Glossary

Bundled production: Simultaneous production processes based on geospatial information derived from the same sources.

Boxed imagery: Mapping, Charting & Geodesy images that are set aside ("boxed") until an entire area requirement has been acquired, at which time the entire box of images is released to production personnel.

Commodity data: Information that is acquired by NIMA as a purchase from a commercial source.

Coverages: A layer of geospatial or intelligence information.

Base Coverage: Base coverages contain the most accurate and highest resolution feature delineations, and all feature attributes. "Centerline" digital products, digital and paper "maps," and other tailored information products are built from data selected from the base coverages.

Foundation data: A data set, composed of controlled and orthorectified imagery, digital elevation, bathymetry, vector features, and other information, which is collected near world-wide, is relatively stable, accurate, and tied to a common geometry.

Information-centric: Focusing on production of information, from which numerous products can be derived, as opposed to focusing on production of fixed products, such as maps.

NIMA-brokered: Information or product obtained by a NIMA customer through a transaction in which NIMA obtained the information or product for the customer from a third party.

Source: Anything in which information is contained or from which information is derived.

Imagery source: Imagery, from any airborne, handheld, or satellite collector, that is used to produce intelligence analysis or geospatial information.

Non-imagery source: anything that is not obtained by an airborne, handheld, or satellite imagery collector, and that provides data for the production of intelligence analysis or geospatial information.

Surge: Supplementation or reallocation of resources among one or more issues or regions in response to high production priorities.

Workgroup: In the DO, a flexible teaming arrangement in which personnel representing multiple disciplines are grouped together, physically or virtually, to work a like region or issue.

Point of Contact:
Mark Owens
Commercial (703) 755-5664
e-mail address: [email protected]

HTML last updated:
14 June 1999