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RapidEye satellites, an example of the remote sensing instruments that contribute to geomatics.

Geomatics is the science and technology of gathering, analyzing, interpreting, distributing and using geographic (or spatially referenced) information. Geomatics encompasses a broad range of disciplines: surveying, mapping, remote sensing, GIS and GPS.[1]


Geomatics is fairly new, the term was apparently coined by B. Dubuisson in 1969. It includes the tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, COMPASS), photogrammetry, and related forms of earth mapping. Originally used in Canada, because the term is similar in French and English, geomatics has been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and many other international authorities, although some (especially in the United States) have shown a preference for the term technology.

Survey equipment used in geomatics

A good definition can be found on the University of Calgary's web page titled "What is Geomatic Engineering?":

"Geomatics engineering is a modern discipline, which integrates acquisition, modelling, analysis, and management of spatially referenced data, i.e. data identified according to their locations. Based on the scientific framework of geodesy, it uses terrestrial, marine, airborne, and satellite-based sensors to acquire spatial and other data. It includes the process of transforming spatially referenced data from different sources into common information systems with well-defined accuracy characteristics."

Similarly the new related field hydrogeomatics covers the geomatics area associated with surveying work carried out on, above or below the surface of the sea or other areas of water. The older term of hydrographics was too specific to the preparation of marine charts and failed to include the broader concept of positioning or measurements in all marine environments.

A geospatial network is a network of collaborating resources for sharing and coordinating geographical data, and data tied to geographical references. One example of such a network is the GIS Consortium's effort to provide "ready global access to geographic information" in a framework named the Open Geospatial Network.

A number of university departments which were once titled surveying, survey engineering or topographic science have re-titled themselves as geomatics or geomatic engineering. An example of this is the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London.

The rapid progress, and increased visibility, of geomatics since 1990s has been made possible by advances in computer technology, computer science, and software engineering, as well as airborne and space observation remote sensing technologies.

The field of geomatics may include:


Geomatics has been applied in a variety of fields including:

  • Environmental Conservation and Restoration
  • Land Management
  • Urban Planning
  • Residential Development Planning
  • Infrastructure Management
  • Natural Resource Monitoring and Development
  • Coastal Zone Management and Mapping
  • Archaeological Excavation and Surveying for GIS Applications
  • Disaster Informatics for Disaster Risk Reduction and Response
  • Air Navigation Services[1]
  • Biomedical Imaging


Microgeomatics is the use of various approaches and techniques of location in closed spaces. It relies on geomatics know-how of data storage, analysis and spatial information gathering and communication. Sometimes referred to as "indoor GIS," microgeomatics applies geomatic techniques to smaller spaces, such as warehouses, shopping malls, schools or factories, where room and floor numbers may be more important geospatial references than latitude and longitude. In this sense, architectural plans or CAD drawings may serve as a "base map" for spatial analysis.[2]

Microgeomatics can help:

  • Emergency response teams to assess potential hazards, access and egress to buildings and identify areas where people may concentrate or seek shelter
  • Business analysts looking at shopping patterns within a mall or "super store"
  • Warehouse managers or auditors looking at asset management or more efficient storage and movement of merchandise[3]


  1. Caron, C.; Roche, S.; Berthiaume, M; Gingras, L. The Strategic Impacts of Microgeomatics for Location Based Services in Business Location Intelligence Conference 2006.
  2. Bachy, D.; Caron, C.; Lapierre, C.; Perreault, L.; Plante, M. MicroGeomatics: a new paradigm for mobile workforce management. GEO World. 1 March 2006.
  3. Wong, Kenneth; Someone to Watch Over Us GPS World, 1 September 2006.

See also

  • Archaeological field survey

External links

International organizations

Professional/licensing bodies