New NGA Director Discusses Open Source Intelligence Challenges

Published on January 9, 2015

At the recent GEO-Energy Summit 2014, hosted by Directions Magazine, Robert Cardillo, the new Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), made his first public keynote address and discussed key challenges and opportunities for the GEOINT Community.

He also sat down with The Huntsville Times during the event, and shared his perspective on how open sourcing and crowd sourcing of information is changing the intelligence gathering process.

While acknowledging that the Internet has made the world more open, there are still real “hard intelligence problems” that require special access. Director Cardillo discussed how the Internet helps in understanding what's going on in Tehran in the stability and geopolitical sides – but the real intelligence is much deeper.

When asked about post-Snowden information sharing challenges, he discussed how geospatial intelligence is by its nature open, and it’s “a user-friendly place where people can share information and understand perspectives because it's a map, it's a photo.”  Director Cardilllo also talked about how the NGA’s role can help foster more trust and confidence, and that maybe “we all should lean in a little more now.”

The interview with The Huntsville Times ended with a question about how he balances the stress of his job knowing just how “scary the world really is” for U.S. citizens.

Cardillo responded by saying that his reward is seeing how the government reacts to all of this intelligence, and that he is proud to be part of this critical process. He also said that, unlike CNN and Fox News where  he sees “people yelling at each other,” the real government leaders also have strong opinions, but are very constructive in finding solutions.


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