Last month the Defense and Intelligence communities gathered at the 2016 GEOINT conference to discuss the nuances of working in geospatial intelligence. One of the most important discussions was, of course, the role of IT in driving innovation in the community. Kirk Kern, Chief Technology Officer NetApp U.S. Public Sector, and a GEOINT veteran, took a moment to reflect on the conference and shared his thoughts with the GovDataDownload editorial team on how the conference and the community have evolved, particularly in the areas of public-private partnerships and collaboration.
GovDataDownload (GDD): You’ve just come back from GEOINT 2016. Why is this event so important for the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities?
Kirk Kern (KK): The annual GEOINT symposium is a premier event for members of defense, intelligence, and homeland security to gather and discuss new technologies and trends around the tradecraft that is now collectively called GEOINT. When I attended the first GEOINT conference in 2004, I struggled with the concept that we could discuss remote sensing and satellite technologies amongst ourselves in the geospatial industry openly. Twelve years later, there is a vast array of cross-government and international commercial companies building this vibrant community around GEOINT. The symposium gives defense and IT organizations a remarkable marketplace to develop solutions and attract and retain the next generation of talent needed to sustain the community.
GDD: What were some of the major topics of discussion at the event?
KK: This year, it was made clear from directors and filtered down through panelists and members in breakout sessions that we must be open and agile in adopting next-gen technologies. There were discussions around the need to leverage the best of what’s being developed across the industry and Silicon Valley. The government is very open to how we are doing things differently and how we change to adapt to this fast growing industry.
GDD: How are the defense and intelligence communities leveraging the cloud to help them meet the mission?
KK: Cloud was definitely a hot topic of discussion this year. So much so that Director Robert Cardillo of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency made a statement in his keynote speech that the NGA would be all-in the cloud by 2017. While I do believe that cloud is incredibly important and quickly spreading throughout the industry today, I also think there are many organizations that require specific conditions to support their mission, and will require a move to hybrid solutions.
Interested in learning more about innovation in the geospatial intelligence community, especially around Third Platform technologies? You can click here to find the rest of the interview.