The U. V. Helava Award

Best Paper 2022

The U.V. Helava Award, sponsored by Elsevier B.V. and Leica Geosystems AG, is a prestigious ISPRS Award, which was established in 1998 to encourage and stimulate submission of high-quality scientific papers by individual authors or groups to the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, to promote and advertise the Journal, and to honour the outstanding contributions of Dr. Uuno V. Helava to research and development in photogrammetry and remote sensing.

The Award is presented to authors of the best paper, written in English and published exclusively in the ISPRS Journal during the four-year period from January of a Congress year, to December of the year prior to the next Congress. The Award consists of a monetary grant of SFr. 10,000 and a plaque. A five-member Jury, comprising experts of high scientific standing, whose expertise covers the main topics included in the scope of the Journal, evaluates the papers. For each year of the four-year evaluation period, the best paper is selected, and among these four papers, the one to receive the U.V. Helava Award will be selected. The seventh U.V. Helava Award will be presented at the 25th ISPRS Congress in 2026.

The Jury, appointed by the ISPRS Council, evaluated papers from Volumes 183-194 (2022) and announces its decision for the Best Paper. The winner of the 2022 Best Paper is:


"UNetFormer: A UNet-like transformer for efficient semantic segmentation of remote sensing urban scene imagery".

by Libo Wang a,b, Rui Li h, Ce Zhang c,d, Shenghui Fang a, Chenxi Duan e, Xiaoliang Meng a,b, and Peter M. Atkinsonc,f,g 


a School of Remote Sensing and Information Engineering, Wuhan University, 129 Luoyu Road, Wuhan, Hubei 430079, China
b Key Laboratory of Natural Resources Monitoring in Tropical and Subtropical Area of South China, Ministry of Natural Resources, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510000, China
c Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
d UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Library Avenue, Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK
e Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands
f Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
g Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China
h Intelligent Control & Smart Energy (ICSE) Research Group, School of Engineering, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK



Libo Wang Rui Li Ce Zhang Shenghui Fang
Libo Wang Rui Li Ce Zhang Shenghui Fang
Chenxi Duan Xiaoliang Meng Peter M. Atkinson  
Chenxi Duan Xiaoliang Meng Peter M. Atkinson  


published in Volume 190, August 2022, Pages 196-214,


Jury's rationale for the paper selection

This paper developed a novel Transformer-based decoder and a UNet-like Transformer (UNetFormer) for semantic segmentation of remotely sensed urban scene images, and codes were provided as open source. The methodology used a global-local attention mechanism to model both global and local information in the decoder. The results show good potentials for wide applications. Therefore, it very well deserves the Best Paper award for 2022.

On behalf of the ISPRS and the U.V. Helava Award Jury, I would like to congratulate the authors for this distinction and thank them for their contribution. I would also like to thank the sponsors of the Award, and the Jury members for their thorough evaluations.


ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
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