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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

We reported last week that defense contractor Parsons is acquiring OGSystems, a provider of geospatial intelligence and big data analytics. A few days after the deal was announced I spoke with Parsons’ COO Carey Smith and OGSystems co-founder and President Garrett Pagon about the company’s strategy to expand its space and intelligence business.

Parsons has been on a buying spree since 2011 as the company has sought to reinvent itself from an engineering and critical infrastructure contractor to one that can also play in intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud computing. What’s significant about the acquisition of OGSystems? It gives Parsons a technological edge it didn’t have before: its own geospatial intelligence arm.

Of Parsons’ annual sales of $3.5 billion, half comes from federal contracts. Where’s the future growth? In counterintelligence, insider threat detection, data analytics and cloud. An emerging market is “multi-domain command and control” — software used by the military for mission management and situational awareness across all domains of warfare (air, sea, ground, cyber and space).

“Geospatial intelligence provides the foundational layer for multi-domain C2,” Smith said. “We’re very strong in signals intelligence, in open source intelligence. The geospatial was the piece that we did not have.”

Pagon said intelligence fusion is the holy grail. “It’s about melding data sources and combine that with the classified side.” Customers struggle to get timely actionable intelligence, he said. The blend of open source and classified intelligence is at the “center of the transformation” happening in the industry.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...