Monday, January 9, 2012

EnhancedView: Why the Entire Geospatial Industry Should Care

There is a dispute taking place in Washington that will have a significant impact on the availability of high quality geospatial data for commercial purposes. The EnhancedView program – which would give government agencies access to commercial high resolution satellite imagery and would also provide production and services to support the defense and intelligence communities – is under attack due to current budget constraints. While this battle is often portrayed as solely an issue for DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, the two U.S.-based commercial satellite imagery companies, the outcome will impact numerous existing and planned geospatial products and services that rely on high quality satellite imagery. As a result, this is a battle that should concern the broader geospatial community, much like the ongoing GPS-LightSquared dispute.

EnhancedView is a public-private partnership between the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the commercial satellite imagery providers. It was created in Fiscal Year 2010 and was intended as a 10-year program to serve as a complement to national overhead capabilities. GeoEye and DigitalGlobe collectively committed over a billion dollars of private capital to make the investments necessary to fulfill their respective obligations under the program. Such investments, including increased hiring for well-paying, highly skilled geospatial positions and significant purchases of hardware and software from vendors throughout the geospatial community, would continue over the term of the program. However, the companies are now being told that the EnhancedView program may be subject to budget cuts. These potential cuts not only jeopardize the economic viability of the EnhancedView program from a commercial standpoint, but also threaten geospatial positions and vendors throughout the geospatial ecosystem. Given the current economic prognosis, if the program is cut it is unlikely to regain its original form...

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