CNS Receives USGIF 2020 Award

April 27, 2020

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies received the 2020 Academic Achievement Award from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation for its work identifying preparations for a North Korea missile engine test.

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 CNS, through the use of open-source geospatial intelligence, detected and correctly identified preparations for the engine test 39 hours before it occurred, in violation of international nonproliferation commitments.

The USGIF Awards Program is an annual contest to recognize 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.

“We are honored to be recognized by USGIF for our cutting-edge work applying geospatial analysis to global nonproliferation challenges,” said CNS Deputy Director Jessica C. Varnum. “Our work in this area receives invaluable support from our corporate partners, and in this specific case our team led by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis benefitted enormously from CNS partner Planet’s timely imagery of the North Korean site in question.”

The USGIF is the first and only foundation where cross-disciplinary members of the geospatial intelligence community can exchange ideas, share best practices, and promote the education and importance of a national geospatial intelligence agenda. Currently, the foundation has more than 200 sustaining member organizations supporting and assisting in executing the foundation’s objectives.

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