If you're lost, the NGA can probably get you where you need to go. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is the US government agency responsible for exploration and mapping. Part of the
Department of Defense
, it merges imagery, maps, charts, and environmental data to produce "geospatial intelligence" to provide support for national defense, homeland security, and safety of navigation. The NGA's data is used to enable rapid decision-making on the battlefield, help resolve international disputes, aid in disaster relief efforts, develop safer airways, and more.
The agency made substantial contributions to the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden. Its data has been used in a wide variety of non-military projects, including helping resolve long-standing border disputes between Peru and Ecuador, surveying the World Trade Center site after the September 11 attacks to help determine the destruction, and assisting federal emergency management officials in the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy. In addition, the NGA has provided geospatial assistance to the Olympic Games.
In addition to its Northern Virginia headquarters, the NGA has major offices in Arnold and St. Louis, Missouri. It has employees at US military, diplomatic, and allied locations worldwide.
The agency's strategy is centered primarily around improving access (online and on-demand) to its data, as well as expanding its analytic capabilities.
In 1996 the US Congress, the CIA, and the DoD combined the efforts of the country's mapping and imagery analysis efforts, creating the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. It changed its name in 2003 to the NGA.