St. Louis In Line To Follow Silicon Valley

St. Louis is uniquely positioned to be a major hub in the geospatial business sector.

March 14, 2018 | 4 min reading time

This article is 6 years old. It was published on March 14, 2018.


By John Parker, Director of Corporate Communications and Media, SLDCSt Louis

“Silicon Valley” was the term used in the early 70s to describe the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area, because of its then growing concentration of companies involved in the making of semiconductors and the up-start computer companies that were in the area.

Today, St. Louis is in a unique position to follow the lead that was established by Silicon Valley by continuing to both identify and align itself with the high-tech industry that is rapidly growing but has not yet become associated with any geographic location. St. Louis has all the qualities and strong foundations necessary to become a center for geospatial intelligence, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.  

Over the past quarter century, information in the form of digital data has become the foundation on which governments, industries, and organizations base many of their decisions. In our modern world, there exists a deluge of data that grows exponentially each day. Companies and institutions have become acutely aware that not only must they have access to the right data at the right time, but they must also have access to analysis of the raw data to make correct decisions. The proper collection, analysis, and usability of timely and relevant data can mean the difference between success and failure.

The need for data and information has resulted in geospatial intelligence data becoming one of the most significant growth areas in the broader world of data. Consequently, this industry, which endeavors to satisfy that need, has become one of the most rapidly growing technology industries in the world. Whether rendering information in two or three dimensions, geospatial intelligence data is the key to visualizing data, making it one of the most sought-after forms of data in almost every industry or market.

Geospatial intelligence data was traditionally confined to use by the military, intelligence agencies, maritime or aeronautical organizations. Today, the use of geospatial information has expanded into almost every market and institution around the globe, with the discovery that it can provide new levels of insight and information to its consumers. Data has become an integral element in how companies and organizations conduct business throughout the world.

This is why St. Louis is well and uniquely suited to become the “go to” destination for the geospatial intelligence industry, and should quite possibly begin the branding/marketing campaign as the “City of Geospatial Intelligence.” The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which is coming to St. Louis, serves as the functional manager of geospatial intelligence for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the entire United States intelligence community (IC). The NGA is charged with producing the geospatial information and intelligence that provide the eyes of our national security operations.

St. Louis, Missouri has long been home to a number of companies, organizations and government agencies that have held a pivotal role in the world of geospatial intelligence. Ball Aerospace, Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) and Monsanto are just a few companies already located in St. Louis that develop or operate cutting edge geospatial intelligence systems and products. Many of the academic institutions such as the University of Missouri system, St. Louis University and Washington University have participated and provided geospatial undergraduate and graduate programs as well as performing innovative geospatial intelligence research and development work. This work is broad reaching and includes, but is not limited to, geospatial research in biosecurity, disease treatment and outcomes, urban health, education, crime, economic development, environmental and food security, air pollution, climate response, agricultural disease forecasting, water and food security, and urban development and social equity.

Too much surprise for the residents of St. Louis, NGA or its predecessors like the National Imagery and Mapping Agency or the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center have been operating here for over 70 years; therefore the foundational building blocks necessary to cultivate geospatial intelligence in St. Louis are already in place in the form of numerous large corporations, small companies and academic institutions performing geospatial intelligence innovation, development, education and operations throughout the greater St. Louis area. These crucial elements are why St. Louis recently received the location for NGA’s construction of a new “state-of-the-art” facility. This facility will undoubtedly bring additional international notoriety and association with the geospatial intelligence industry.

St. Louis receiving this opportunity means furthering the development of the elements that are already in place, and the construction of a framework of resources that ensures that St. Louis could become the center of the geospatial intelligence industry, and the most attractive destination by far for any company choosing a location to perform any geospatial intelligence related work.

Otis Williams, Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation stated, “This framework of resources includes access to sustainable and expansive qualified workforce and the pipelines to continually replenish and refresh the pool of talent, many of whom would come from the St. Louis area. It will also include sufficient infrastructure to support all sectors of the industry, adequate real estate to facilitate expansion of the industry over time and numerous business opportunities for collaboration, innovation, partnerships, and investment.”

As NGA commits itself to executing its national security mission from within the City of St. Louis and the City has affirmed its partnership with the agency, a real opportunity has arisen. The City of St. Louis and the greater St. Louis region, on both sides of the Mississippi River, can assume the identity as the center of geospatial intelligence and an area of excellence for geospatial education, expertise and tradecraft. If properly cultivated, this identity could do for St. Louis what adopting the label “Silicon Valley” did for the San Francisco Bay area.


John Parker is a Public Relations a Corporate, Crisis and Media Communications Professional. He is the Director of Corporate Communications and Media for St. Louis Development Corporation. He is an expert in public relations, media management and relations, crisis communications, situational and executive communications and public affairs. He is a published author with over 15 years of diverse experience in media relations. Contact him at

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