GEOINT Pathfinder project yields new open source coding projects available to public
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s unclassified project, GEOINT Pathfinder, recently released eight open source coding projects on the code-sharing repository site, GitHub, NGA announced February 22.
Two of the coding projects released include a social media picture explorer which uses machine-learning techniques to cluster similar images. The projects also provide automatic object recognition and an updated WordPress theme, which allow for interactively displayed post revisions.
“Transparent source code with strong documentation speaks clearly to industry and academia about what NGA is working on and how to get involved,” said Chris Rasmussen, NGA’s public software development and GEOINT Pathfinder lead.
In August 2015, NGA launched the GEOINT Pathfinder project to help the agency navigate the competitive world of commercialized geospatial intelligence, operating at an unclassified, off-premise and telework-friendly environment. The project is aimed at answering four research questions using only unclassified tools, data, information technology and services available in the commercial and open source world.
The GEOINT Pathfinder project adopted a software philosophy to use open source software as the first resort, said Rasmussen.
“Commercial software was purchased and used only after a thorough evaluation of what’s available in the open source world,” said Rasmussen. “If the commercial software truly out-performed open source then we bought what was needed.”
The benefit of open sourcing software extends beyond free contributions or coding updates.
“Taking an accounting view of open source can often drown out less quantitative measures such as bringing on new partners that traditionally haven’t done business with the government,” said Rasmussen.
Open sourcing code back to the public is also the right thing to do, he said.
“Pathfinder’s after action report recommends that all code be considered for public release when the government obtains ‘unlimited rights,’ because taxpayers paid for the code in the first place,” said Rasmussen.