Geospatial agency app store connects app developers & users

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency wants to speed development & delivery of mobile apps.

Among the growing efforts to streamline the hidebound DOD acquisition process is a "trusted applications broker" initiative designed to connect military customers with application vendors via the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) app store.

The Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program, or IGAPP, was launched as a way to connect the agency with the growing number of applications developers. According to Engility Corp., the company that manages the effort, IGAPP responds to the growing demand for mobile applications along with greater use of geospatial intelligence.

The NGA program also addresses the widening gap between user experiences on commercial personal devices and platforms compared to outdated systems still used by many federal agencies.

Touted as a "secure supply chain" for mobile apps that leverage geospatial data, IGAPP seeks to replace traditional methods of developing DOD apps under a standard project or program procurement effort, Engility said.

The program targets agile independent software vendors who often leverage open-source tools to crank out distributed applications that are entering cloud and other production environments at an accelerating pace. The IGAPP website lists a range of "vendor opportunity packages" describing NGA requirements for air, land and sea applications.

The agency's "land mission," for example, seeks a mobile app that collects and applies "predictive" analytics to geospatial data related to natural and man-made features. The tool would help the agency "monitor the world," NGA said.

An "air mission" solicitation addresses an application that visualizes and analyzes global navigation data as part of an on-demand global database.

Meanwhile, one contractor based in McLean, Va. said this week its mobile app, described as a geographic "name search engine," was selected by IGAPP and is now available through the NGA online store. The mobile app, based on Geographic Services Inc.'s proprietary phonetic search engine, allows users to search by place names anywhere in the world and across different languages using a query system based on pronunciation.

The company said its technology enables "fuzzy" location searches based on "a place name's pronunciation, rather than its spelling."

The app is designed to improve location search results by eliminating the need to know variations in spelling. It also accounts for misspelled names or names with letters or sounds not part of the English language, explained Keyvan Rafei, company president and CEO.

The cloud-based "geonames" tool incorporates advanced data mining along with patented search technology that incorporates what the company calls "cultural knowledge." It can be accessed via a web browser, desktop or mobile app.