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NGA Studying Natural Language Processing Benefits for Mission Advancement – MeriTalk




The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) has long been the image and map analysis agency within the Intelligence Community (IC), however, agency officials believe that an essential part of this mission is written word analysis.

NGA covered in a year-long federally funded study on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to dramatically raise awareness of the potential time savings and intelligence gains made possible through increased access to text analytics software.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then NGA is in the business of countless words,” said Monica Lipscombe, NGA Program Director, in a statement. “Map reading, legend generation, and picture-writing are clear examples.”

The report found that the NGA workforce spends nearly 80 percent of the average workflow reading or creating text whether doing research, reviewing documents, flipping images, or creating reports. NLP enables automatic sifting, sorting, translating, comprehension, and sensory processing of billions of words.


In addition to accelerating analytical workflows, Lipscomb demonstrated that NLP is applicable to workflows that include security, finance, policy, records management, and the integrity of navigation alerts.

Earlier this year, the NGA launched its Marine Source Automated Processing System (SMAPS) – led by NLP and basic machine learning – and the time required to process incoming incident messages and generate alerts is said to be halved.

However, “many NGA employees know that NLP resources are available, but have difficulty knowing where to find them or how to direct them toward NGA topics of interest,” Lipscomb said.

Going forward, NGA wants to facilitate mission progress in other agency workflows such as those achieved through SMAPS. NGA also plans to have further discussions with the larger IC and create an enterprise-wide community of interest for NLP resources.


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