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    Image Matters maps the world from Leesburg

    Harry Niedzwiadek is the CEO of Image Matters, a downtown-Leesburg based software and systems engineering firm.

    His company recently won a contract to accelerate the development of a seamless map of the world for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

    "This project is pretty big, pretty important. The Google Maps for the intelligence community and the DoD," he said.

    "What attracted [NGA] to us was as a company we specialize in modeling the Earth," said Niedzwiadek.

    Image Matters initially gained traction by winning a $1 million Innovations in Geospatial Intelligence Award in 2005.

    Niedzwiadek said James Clapper, now the director of National Intelligence, had an interest in stimulating innovation at the agency when he was with the NGA.

    So Image Matters set out to chase down a better solution to figure out "the threats facing the country."

    In many ways Niedzwiadek is the perfect person to develop technology to be used by important members of the military during delicate operations here and abroad.

    Niedzwiadek remembers the first time he fell in love with cartography, the study of maps and map making.

    He was in the Boy Scouts, the son of a World War II vet.

    "[Dad] was a special forces guy during World War II, then went to Argentina to hunt Nazis after the war," said Niedzwiadek.

    Many of the children of his generation, children of WWII veterans, were passed down the knowledge of terrain and survival, he said.

    He explains that his love of cartography is really his love of looking at maps in the context of history.

    "Maps are stories," he said. "It's my curiosity about the Earth and the things that happen on the Earth," said Niedzwiadek.

    In a recent phone conversation he had with Barry Glick, the CEO and founder of Mapquest, Glick told Niedzwiadek, "You're basically taking what I did for navigation and doing it for everything else."

    Some of the main questions Glick had about Mapquest were "Who doesn't want to get around better? Who doesn't get lost?"

    Image Matters' strive to understand similar questions about projects, often in the context of military operations.

    A thirst from the government to have that knowledge as well led to the development of FactWeave.

    According to the company's website, FactWeave hopes to "Build and exploit a shared knowledge base of critical facts about any entities of interest: persons, organizations, places, events, things and social objects (articles, videos, blog posts, micro-blogs, reports, etc.)."

    In explaining his software FactWeave, Niedzwiadek said, "It's like finding the needle in the haystack, we're trying to figure out the haystack from the needles,"

    Niedzwiadek explains the nation faces daunting complexities, especially as it pertains to terrorist threats, so "we need to understand the bigger picture."

    The map of the world project, FactWeave and myriad other projects on the Image Matters docket hope to figure out the haystack from the needles.

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