Skip to main content

ORNL wins top awards at DOE GIS Day Competition

Department of Energy awarded ORNL with Best Geospatial Program and top poster prizes

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory took home the top honors in three categories at the second annual DOE Geospatial Science Poster competition, held on National GIS, or geographic information system, Day, Nov. 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C. For the second year in a row, DOE awarded ORNL top prize as Best Geospatial Program. Additionally, ORNL geospatial researchers took home first place prizes for their posters in the Best Departmental Element Alignment and Best Cartography categories.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory has a unique geospatial science program among the national laboratories,” said Nagendra Singh, a senior research and development scientist in the lab’s Geospatial Science and Human Security Division. “We not only have a dedicated research division at the laboratory, but we also foster geospatial science and technology-driven research and development in many directorates across the lab.”

ORNL’s Matthew Larson, Alec Hamaker, Justin Cazares and Matt Platt won first place in Best Departmental Element Alignment with their poster titled “Automated Geospatial Data Sharing for Emergency and Disaster Response.” The poster detailed MAPSTER, a geospatial data management tool that aggregates, organizes and shares data from dispersed sources such as unmanned aerial systems. Built specifically for use in environments where communications may be limited, MAPSTER uses Observer and Checkpoint, two key technologies that effectively manage data in the field and enable easy data sharing with authorized partners, respectively.

In the Best Cartography category, ORNL’s Erik Schmidt, Debjani Singh, Megan Johnson and Shih-Chieh Kao won top prize for their poster titled “National Hydropower Map.” The poster used ORNL’s 2022 Existing Hydropower Assets Plant Dataset to visualize the geospatial distribution and characteristics of U.S. operational hydropower plants.

Geospatial science has been a consistent area of research at ORNL for more than two decades. ORNL is unique in its designation of geospatial science as a focused research and development area. As Earth observation imagery and high-performance computing resources have improved over the years, so has ORNL’s expertise and ability to deliver high-quality datasets and analytical solutions to federal organizations. This helps more organizations understand where critical infrastructure is located and how communities are impacted by electricity outages.

Geospatial experts have recognized GIS Day annually since 1999, and it has spun into a globally celebrated event. DOE began its annual geospatial poster session in 2022, evaluating submissions against the four goals of DOE’s Geospatial Science Program. This year, multiple posters from national labs and program offices were submitted and evaluated, plus a new award in the ‘Best Cartography’ was also added. 

Meanwhile, researchers at ORNL continue to use geospatial science to solve emerging problems in national security, environmental science and urban dynamics while also developing new models and techniques to tackle critical challenges for human security and the environment.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit — Audrey Carson