SPRINGFIELD, Virginia—The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency made available Oct. 23 a public-facing website to assist U.S. and international relief efforts to combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease, providing unprecedented online access to its unified geospatial intelligence in support of lead federal agencies and partners.
NGA’s efforts add important value to the support offered by other organizations, including the All Partners Access Network, which provides community spaces and collaborative tools to the Department of Defense and mission partners to leverage information to effectively plan, train and respond to mission objectives.
“The dynamic site provided by NGA allows the agency to automatically federate its geospatial content, which then is used by organizations such as APAN for mission related efforts,” said agency Director Robert Cardillo.
NGA’s role in the Ebola crisis has been in step with many other global events that have required the agency’s disaster support, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The agency’s focus on unified support to the crisis allows its content to be available with no caveats or limits in distribution.
The large number of non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, involved in the relief effort requires NGA take a different approach to disseminating unified information so the people who need NGA’s information on the crisis, have it.
The dynamic site uses Esri’s ArcGIS Platform hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services, both publically available services. The site features various base maps that provide foundational context for users, who will then have the ability to visually overlay public NGA data, as well as ingest open-source data. NGA’s data can provide logistical information relevant to the situation on the ground affected by the Ebola crisis.
NGA’s first exposure of data includes geospatial layers relevant to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, including cultural places and structures, and communication, electric power and ground transportation infrastructure. For example, Ebola cases by province and locations of emergency treatment units will be visually accessible for users to ascertain the distance from a certain airfield to the closest emergency treatment unit.