USGIF Reveals 2016 Awards Program Recipients

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) announced the five recipients of its 2016 Awards Program. This year’s recipients are The Geospatial Semester at James Madison University; Exemplar City Inc.; the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s iMAP Team; ABACO SpA’s Research & Development Team; and Gunnery Sgt. Jesus M. Bocanegra, Marine Special Operations Company, U.S. Special Operations Command. Award winners were recognized on the main stage at USGIF’s GEOINT 2016 Symposium, held May 15-18, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center.

The USGIF Awards Program annually recognizes the exceptional work of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft’s brightest minds and organizations pushing the leading edge. The five award categories recognize GEOINT achievements in academia, community support, government, industry, and military. Award winners are nominated by their colleagues and selected by the USGIF Awards Subcommittee.

“The number and diversity of the nominations received for the 2016 USGIF Awards Program was outstanding,” said Kevin Jackson, USGIF Awards Subcommittee Chair. “From year to year the quantity of nominations may vary, but the number submitted this year sets an all-time record, and the competition in all the categories was fierce. However, some things do remain constant. Underneath the outstanding achievements of the individuals and teams that we honor each year at the Symposium, are people of great character and commitment, each with a true sense of purpose.”

The 2016 winners are:

Academic Achievement Award:

The Geospatial Semester, James Madison University

The Geospatial Semester is a dual enrollment partnership between James Madison University (JMU) and school districts across Virginia. Participating students learn about geospatial technologies and apply them to local and global problems. The class culminates with an extended, in-depth local project. Students can earn up to six credits at JMU, which are transferable to the school of their choice. Since its inception in 2005, nearly 3,000 students have participated and gone on to a variety of careers using geospatial technology, including intelligence. JMU faculty members are regular visitors to the high school classrooms to interact with teachers and students as well as to provide technical and project support.

Community Support Achievement Award:

Exemplar City Inc.

Exemplar City, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established by Huntsville, Ala., Mayor Tommy Battle, assists local governments in preparing, responding, mitigating, and avoiding natural/manmade disasters through planned resilience. Exemplar City’s peer-to-peer collaboration brings municipal stakeholders together to build safe, secure, and sustainable communities. Exemplar City partners with Geo Huntsville, focusing on geospatial technology applications for public safety and homeland security. Together, they use technology instruction and field-based data gathering, and interface with geospatial technology experts to bring geospatial technology advances to governmental officials throughout the nation. In 2014, the Blueprint for Safety (BfS) pilot was launched to increase multi-jurisdictional information sharing and enhance situational awareness among agencies to improve rapid disaster response and sustained recovery. Through BfS, a concept emerged allowing shared lessons, code sets, and case documentation using Exemplar City to create a multi-city collaboration.

Government Achievement Award:

iMAP Team, Santa Clara County Fire Department

The Santa Clara County Fire Department’s iMAP Team developed an enterprise GEOINT system used to manage all fire and medical service operations throughout Super Bowl 50. Together with its partner Intterra, the developers were able to integrate 911/computer-aided dispatch information, map special events throughout the region, monitor resource availability, view GIS layers to include near real-time imagery, and analyze data trends. This system provided the Santa Clara County Multi-Agency Coordination Center with a true GEOINT decision and situational awareness platform. It allowed decision-makers to keep informed on current activity and make decisions faster than ever before. The iMAP team created dynamic situational awareness of all Super Bowl 50 events, providing valuable insight for first responders, resulting in a safe environment for fans and players.

Industry Achievement Award:


ABACO SpA, based in the United Kingdom and Italy, specializes in advanced geospatial intelligence data processing and portrayal techniques. In 2016, its R&D team designed a new augmented reality (AR) “Farm Visor,” to help the farming community easily access big data. Integrated with an advanced 3D processing server, Farm Visor facilitates location of plots, visualization of attributes, and consumption of services to manage farming activities. The AR solution can further benefit from a new agricultural portal, Project groundSITE, which supports decision-making, farm agenda management, controlled chemicals spraying, and water consumption control. The R&D Team members awarded are: Oreste Tommasi, R&D director; Alberto Bignotti, software factory manager; and Alessandro Zilocchi, product owner.

Military Achievement Award:

Gunnery Sgt. Jesus M. Bocanegra, Marine Special Operations Company, U.S. Special Operations Command

Gunnery Sgt. Bocanegra deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from July 2015 to January 2016. During the deployment, Bocanegra increased operational allocation of ISR assets by more than 300 percent. In total, he acquired more than 3,500 hours of ISR collection supporting six different units spanning an area of more than 200,000 square kilometers. Bocanegra created and disseminated more than 100 specialized imagery and topographic products in support of deliberate targeting efforts. He continually mentored the six units in the utilization of measurement & signature intelligence in order to leverage ongoing national technical means collection efforts in support of intelligence preparation of the environment. As a result, the units struck 25 deliberate targets and created 30 additional developmental targets for follow-on actions, maintaining pressure on ISIL.

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