The National Photographic Interpretation Center [NPIC] Data System (NDS) / National Dissemination System (NDS) / NIMA Data System (NDS) is the primary storage and dissemination system for national imagery and imagery products, providing a library of information to imagery customers worldwide accesible through IDEX-II, IPL and other servers.
At the highest level of abstraction, the imagery production process is similar for all types of imagery. Imagery data is collected (e.g., by satellite or airplane) and sent to an initial processor; from this processor the data is sent through a dissemination system to a library or database. The imagery files are copied from the database to an exploitation system where intelligence products are generated; the resulting imagery products are returned to the database. Authorized users can access the images they need from this database. This entire process takes place within SCI enclaves for most types of imagery, even though most imagery is at the Secret Collateral level.
The Defense Dissemination System (DDS) Dissemination Element (DE) is part of the NIMA Delivery Segment (NDS), which comprises the processing segment/enhanced processing segment and transmission segment for national imagery. The DE is one of the new generation of equipment and software that will eventually replace the current receive segment equipment. DE provides the intelligence community tools for imagery dissemination and management. These are usually a fixed site, except the MIES TENCAP systems which are mobile, deployable DEs (the only mobile ones in the Army). At certain commands, the Mobile Imagery Exploitation System (MIES) and other Receive Locations (RL) permit first-phase exploitation of imagery in direct response to the commander's needs. For other processing centers, such as JICs, divisional ACEs, and brigades with no organic RL, imagery can now be transmitted digitally using compression techniques.
NDS and ALE are legacy systems which will be deactivated and replaced by the NIMA Exploitation System (NES) 31 July 1999. This system will migrate to the NES standard by 1998, and subsequently converge to the ESS configuration by 2001. The Exploitation Support System (ESS) will be the community's common imagery exploitation support system. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) Exploitation System (NES) will migrate to ESS by the end of FY01. Agency Program: The DoD is in the process of establishing a simplified baseline of the best, common information systems across the business functions of the Department. These migration systems represent a stage of process improvement designed at achieving a common set of automated processes and practices in DoD.