MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, announced the five judges who will evaluate entries in the seventh annual "Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards Competition." The independent judges have been selected to evaluate projects submitted for the Awards Competition that highlight the exceptional services, products, software and hardware produced by the companies that make up the MAPPS membership.

New to the panel in 2013 are Neil Sandler, publisher of Professional Surveyor Magazine, and John Hetzler, editor of Point of Beginning (POB) Magazine.

For the fourth year, the panel of judges is chaired by Robert Burtch, professor-emeritus of the Surveying and Engineering Program at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., where he taught courses in surveying, geographic information systems, photogrammetry and geodesy. Burtch is a professional surveyor and a certified photogrammetrist, ASPRS.

Judges returning to the panel include: Donn D. Dears, a retired General Electric Company executive now based in Chicago; and Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles nonprofit think tank advancing free markets. Gilroy is a certified urban planner (AICP).

The MAPPS awards competition recognizes the professionalism, value, integrity and achievement that member firms have demonstrated in their projects and technology developments over the previous year.

"We are honored to have these independent, knowledgeable individuals participate in our competition. The projects submitted exemplify the contributions private geospatial firms make to society every day to enhance our quality of life. The judges' backgrounds bring insight into the technical and societal merits of the projects," said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello.

The Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards program has eight categories for projects and technologies delivered from Jan. 1, 2012, through May 31, 2013: airborne and satellite data acquisition; photogrammetry/elevation data generation; remote sensing; GIS/IT; small projects; surveying/field data collection; technology innovation and licensed data products. A Grand Award winner will be selected from the eight category winners to represent the MAPPS Project of the Year. This is the seventh annual awards competition.

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, during the banquet at the MAPPS 2014 Winter Conference at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla (San Diego), Calif. Early registration for the Winter Conference is now open on the MAPPS website.

This is a change due to the postponement of the Geospatial and Engineering International Conference because of the recent government shutdown.