ST. LOUIS — As the world’s experts in mapping and geospatial technology converged downtown on Monday, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced changes for the agency here and spoke about new programs it will work on in the years to come.
In his address, Director Vice Adm. Frank Whitworth announced that in honor of the agency’s host city here, its campus, “NGA West,” will now be known as “NGA St. Louis.”
The name will apply to the campus the agency already occupies here and to the new $1.7 billion western headquarters it is building in north St. Louis. The smaller site in Arnold, Missouri, will be known as “NGA Arnold.” The agency’s location in Virginia, near the Pentagon, which has been referred to as “NGA East,” will become “NGA Main.”
Whitworth was confirmed as NGA’s director in February of 2022, succeeding Vice Adm. Robert Sharp.
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His remarks were made at the GEOINT Symposium, an annual gathering for the geospatial industry that draws military and intelligence officials, larger private sector geospatial companies, and scores of early-stage businesses looking to advertise their tech. It was also held in St. Louis in 2021.
The agency is on track to move into the new space in north St. Louis in late 2025, Whitworth said.
Whitworth spoke about the agency’s work in artificial intelligence and machine learning. During a press conference later in the day, Whitworth described AI as a possible tool for the “deluge control problem,” where agencies gather vast amounts of information, but only have so many people and so much time to sort through it.
“The way ahead for the next 20 years has everything to do with our ability to manage the coming onslaught of data. We need to be able to quickly and accurately create order from chaos,” Whitworth said in his keynote.
The agency is also working with NASA on a positioning and navigation system for the moon. James Griffith, director of NGA Source, told reporters Monday afternoon that there is still “a lot of exploratory work to do,” and there is not yet a target end date for the project.
“We know the types of data we need to collect, but we don’t necessarily know how to collect it in that type of environment, because our tools aren’t built for that,” Griffith said.
“This is truly breaking ground in science,” he said.