USGIF reveals 2016 award recipients, lifetime achievement winner

May 17, 2016  - By
The five USGIF award winners for 2016.

The five USGIF award winners for 2016.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) today announced the five recipients of its 2016 Awards Program. Winners were recognized on the main stage at USGIF’s GEOINT 2016 Symposium, held May 15-18, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

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.

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.”

USGIF also announced at the symposium the Honorable Martin C. Faga, former director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), as the 2016 recipient of the Foundation’s Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award.

Faga is the 12th individual to receive this prestigious award and was recognized during USGIF’s GEOINT 2016 Symposium general session. (Read more about Faga below.)

2016 Winners

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.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Faga was unable to attend the Symposium and accept the award in person, but he instead recorded an on-camera interview about his career and how it feels to receive this recognition.

“It’s hard to express how much the award means to me,” Faga said. “I actually knew Arthur Lundahl—he was retired by the time I knew him but he was very active in mentoring people in the field… To receive an award in his name is a special privilege for me. As exciting as the last almost 50 years has been, I look forward to what’s happening in the future, particularly in the processing of imagery and the ability for anybody on a laptop to do almost anything they want. As the same goes, 20 years from now people will look back and say they haven’t seen anything at that point.”

Faga was the 10th director of NRO, where he most notably led the declassification of NRO’s existence following more than 30 years of secrecy. He revolutionized NRO support to the military, downgraded the classification of NRO products, and appointed a deputy director for military support. Faga also initiated the transition of NRO’s separate Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Air Force, and Navy programs into functional directorates in signals, imagery, and communications.

Faga retired in 2006 as president and chief executive officer of the MITRE Corporation. Prior to his promotion to president and CEO in May 2000, Faga served as executive vice president and senior vice president and general manager of MITRE’s Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems. Since retiring, Faga has been elected to the board of directors for Electronic Data Systems, GeoEye, and Orbital ATK.

Before joining MITRE, Faga served as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space from 1989 to 1993, simultaneously serving as director of NRO. Faga received many awards and distinctions throughout his career, including the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the DoD Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and in 2004 was awarded the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion. President George W. Bush appointed Faga to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 2006 to 2009 and to the Public Interest Declassification Board from 2004 to 2009.

“The Honorable Martin C. Faga — patriot, thought leader, visionary, trailblazer — has been at the forefront of the GEOINT tradecraft for five decades,” said The Honorable Jeffrey K. Harris, Chairman of USGIF’s Board of Directors. “Whether serving in government or industry, Marty has always focused first and foremost on the GEOINT mission. We are proud to recognize his leadership, technical acumen, and political savvy.”

The Lundahl-Finnie award recipient is nominated and voted on by the USGIF Board of Directors. This distinguished award is named after Arthur C. Lundahl and Thomas C. Finnie, celebrating their accomplishments — in imagery analysis and mapping, respectively — and their legacies within the GEOINT Community.

Lundahl is known as the father of modern imagery analysis and imagery intelligence for being the founder and first director of the National Photographic Interpretation Center. Finnie was the Defense Mapping Agency’s (DMA) director of management and technology, and was one of the primary architects of DMA’s evolution to the digital era.

To learn more about the USGIF Awards Program and past award recipients, visit


This article is tagged with and posted in GIS News, Mapping

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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