A capability to help military commanders effectively collect, consolidate and visualize socio-cultural data in areas of operation was recognized as the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration of the Year at the Office of the Secretary of Defense JCTD Manager's conference in Alexandria, Va. on Sept. 23.

Mapping the Human Terrain, also known as MAP-HT, is a joint-service solution for which the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, is the technical manager.

In October 2008, the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Army G-2 asked CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate to take over the technical lead for the project, said I2WD's Donald Porter, who served as the technical manager for the demonstration.

The impetus for MAP-HT came from the lack of integrated methods and tools to collect, interpret and disseminate information on what an environment looks like in terms of people, facilities and social construct, said Porter.

The collection of socio-cultural, or green, data is open source, unclassified and intended to be used to improve civil affairs and increase the U.S. military's understanding of local culture.

"With MAP-HT, a commander can see how this green data can impact his operations," said Porter.

MAP-HT was developed in spirals, and it feeds into the Distributed Common Ground Sensor- Army platform. Approximately 70 percent of the USCENTCOM Tier 1 requirements were met in Spiral 1 before going to a limited user assessment in August 2009. After the limited user test, the systems were deployed for use in civil affairs and Human Terrain Team operations, said Porter.