USGIF Announces 2020 Achievement Award Winners

 Outstanding organizations and individuals recognized for contributions to the geospatial intelligence community

Herndon, Virginia (April, 21,2020)— The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of its annual Awards Program.

The  USGIF Awards Program annually recognizes the exceptional work of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft’s brightest minds and organizations pushing the community forward. Award winners are nominated by their colleagues and selected by the USGIF Awards Subcommittee.

“The 2020 USGIF Awardees reflect the importance and the significance of the outstanding work that occurs daily in the GEOINT community.  You will see how the GEOINT Community always rises to the occasion to face head on the world’s toughest problems and this year is no exception,” said Kevin Jackson, chair of the USGIF Awards Subcommittee.  “Unfortunately, you will not see the awardees recognized on the GEOINT Symposium stage this year.  So please take a moment to read their accomplishments and join me and the USGIF in congratulating the 2020 USGIF Achievement Awardees and the runners-up.”

The 2020 USGIF Award winners are:


James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute

On December 7, 2019, after denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea collapsed, North Korea reversed commitments made in Singapore and resumed engine testing at its Sohae Satellite Launch Center. Using new technological opportunities offered by high-cadence moderate resolution satellite imagery and flexible high-resolution satellite image tasking provided by Planet Labs, analysts at the CNS, through the use of open-source GEOINT, detected and correctly identified preparations for the engine test 39 hours before it occurred. Announcing in advance that North Korea was preparing to violate an international nonproliferation commitment.


NGA Expeditionary Operations Office

NGA’s Office of Expeditionary Operations provides deployed personnel and technology to support GEOINT activities of worldwide U.S. military operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, and other national security objectives. The team’s world-class workforce seamlessly enables trusted global GEOINT capabilities today, while developing programs and processes to meet emerging challenges. Robust partnerships with DoD and IC allies fuel innovation and expertise, helping U.S. and foreign partners build programs that anticipate their needs, expanding the GEOINT community and optimizing meaningful consequence across the GEOINT enterprise.


Mr. Mark A. Skoog & Dr. Loyd R. Hook

Implementing digital terrain solutions for safer aviation has been a career-long goal for Mark Skoog and Loyd Hook. As true innovators and lifelong proponents of using digital terrain data, Skoog and Hook lead the development efforts of NASA’s award-winning Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), which prevents imminent collisions with the ground. Auto GCAS is the culmination of a decades-long effort to bring geospatial intelligence to aircraft safety. This work involved traveling the world, evaluating myriad digital terrain from Sweden to Hawaii. The team extensively tested the system to ensure against every category of controlled flight into terrain mishaps—and found it would have prevented every one, which resulted in ten lives saved thus far in the USAF operations.


Lockheed Martin Space GATR Team

Globally-scalable Automated Target Recognition (GATR) is an artificial intelligence system that finds objects of interest in satellite imagery on a worldwide basis. It was developed by a team of scientists and engineers from Lockheed Martin Space who combined state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms with scalable high-performance computing in a cloud-based framework to achieve high-speed global automated target recognition (ATR). Unlike other ATR systems, GATR searches extremely large geographic regions with accuracy and speed. The GATR team, led by Dr. Mark Pritt, includes Tyler Bartelmo, Gary Chern, Dr. Austen Groener, Michael Harner, Andy Lam, Stephen O’Neill, Ryan Soldin, and Steve Wozniak.


RS/GIS CX, The GRiD Team

David Finnegan and the GRiD program provide the Department of Defense (DoD), intelligence community and geospatial community with a centralized repository for the storage, discovery, and dissemination of critical terrain and 3D data. Prior to the GRiD program, the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) lacked a centralized mechanism for the storage and discovery of this essential content. Historically, the data was subject to local storage, limiting visibility and resulting in retasking collection assets for previously characterized areas, putting military personnel and equipment at risk. By partnering with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the DoD, the GRiD program is now the community standard and enterprise solution for 3D/elevation data discovery across the NSG.

For the first time in the fifteen-year history of the USGIF, the Awards Subcommittee selected runners-up in each category as well. The 2020 USGIF Award runners-up include:

  • Academic: Elizabeth S. Kwicinski, NGA
  • Community: Leidos, Bob Basom
  • Government: Command Center, City of St. Charles Police Department
  • Industry: SPIRE Space Engineering Team
  • Military: Gryphon Program Management Team, NRO and Air Force Research Lab

Learn more about the USGIF Awards Program and past award recipients.


USGIF is a nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to promoting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft and developing a stronger GEOINT Community among government, industry, academia, professional organizations, and individuals who develop and apply GEOINT to address global security challenges. USGIF achieves its mission via its strategic pillars: Build the Community | Advance the Tradecraft | Accelerate Innovation.

For more information, please visit and follow USGIF on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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