The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is looking for commercial partners to focus on the “hard problems” of processing the deluge of data analysts face.

“If you’re looking for an area to partner with us, I highly recommend you focus on artificial intelligence, automation and augmentation,” said NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp June 3, speaking to a packed room at the GEOINT 2019 conference in San Antonio, Texas. The speech marked his first significant public comments since assuming the position of NGA director in February, replacing former NGA Director Robert Cardillo.

“The fact is, we’re facing some significant challenges, some hard problems, and we want your help,” Sharp continued. “We need your help.”

Those tools are essential for sifting through data being made available to the NGA from internal, interagency and commercial sources, explained Sharp. Creating machines and programs that can take on the rote task of processing that vast quantity of data is essential, because it frees up human resources to focus on more difficult issues.

“Our goal is to partner with machines so that we can make best use of the exponential growth in volume and source of data, letting machines do what machines do well and analysts do what analysts do even better — think critically and solve problems,” said Sharp.

The NGA also used the event to release a new booklet detailing challenges that academia and commercial businesses could address if they were interested in partnering with the agency, including data analytics and visualization, advanced GEOINT exploitation, activity modeling, earth modeling, collection, search and discovery, and business intelligence and data-driven production.

Sharp’s remarks were delivered on the first day of the 2019 GEOINT conference, an annual gathering of the greater geointelligence community.