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HandWiki. Geomatics. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 April 2024).
HandWiki. Geomatics. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2024.
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HandWiki. (2022, November 01). Geomatics. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Geomatics." Encyclopedia. Web. 01 November, 2022.

Geomatics is defined in the ISO/TC 211 series of standards as the "discipline concerned with the collection, distribution, storage, analysis, processing, presentation of geographic data or geographic information". Under another definition, it "consists of products, services and tools involved in the collection, integration and management of geographic data". It includes geomatics engineering (and surveying engineering) and is related to geospatial science (also geospatial engineering and geospatial technology).

geospatial science geomatics engineering geospatial

1. Overview and Etymology

The term was proposed in French ("géomatique") at the end of the 1960s by scientist Bernard Dubuisson to reflect at the time recent changes in the jobs of surveyor and photogrammetrist.[1] The term was first employed in a French Ministry of Public Works memorandum dated 1st June 1971 instituting a "standing committee of geomatics" in the government.[2]

The term was popularised in English by French-Canadian surveyor Michel Paradis in a The Canadian Surveyor article in 1981 and in a keynote address at the centennial congress of the Canadian Institute of Surveying in April 1982. He claimed that at the end of the 20th century the needs for geographical information would reach a scope without precedent in history and that, in order to address these needs, it was necessary to integrate in a new discipline both the traditional disciplines of land surveying and the new tools and techniques of data capture, manipulation, storage and diffusion.[3]

Geomatics includes the tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), global-navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Compass), photogrammetry, geophysics, geography, and related forms of earth mapping. The term was originally used in Canada , because it is similar in origin to both French and English,[clarification needed] but has since 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 geospatial technology.[2]

The related field of hydrogeomatics covers the 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 considered 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 Open Geospatial Consortium's efforts to provide ready global access to geographic information.

A number of university departments which were once titled "surveying", "survey engineering" or "topographic science" have re-titled themselves using the terms "geomatics" or "geomatic engineering".

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

The science of deriving information about an object using a sensor without physically contacting it is called remote sensing, which is a part of geomatics.

2. Science

Geospatial science is an academic discipline incorporating fields such as surveying, geographic information systems, hydrography and cartography. Spatial science is typically concerned with the measurement, management, analysis and display of spatial information describing the Earth, its physical features and the built environment.[4]

The term spatial science or spatial sciences is primarily used in Australia . Australian universities which offer degrees in spatial science include Curtin University,[5] the University of Tasmania,[6] the University of Adelaide,[7]Melbourne University[8] and RMIT University.[9]

In the U.S., Texas A&M University offers a bachelor's degree in Spatial Sciences and is home to its own Spatial Sciences Laboratory.[10] Beginning in 2012, the University of Southern California started to place more emphasis on the spatial science branch of its geography department, with traditional human and physical geography courses and concentrations either not being offered on a regular basis or phased out. In place, the university now offers graduate programs strictly related to spatial science and its geography department offers a spatial science minor rather than the original geography major.[11]

Spatial information practitioners within the Asia-Pacific region are represented by the professional body called the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI).[12]

3. Engineering

Geomatics Engineering, Geomatic Engineering, Geospatial Engineering is a rapidly developing engineering discipline that focuses on spatial information (i.e. information that has a location). The location is the primary factor used to integrate a very wide range of data for spatial analysis and visualization. Geomatics engineers apply engineering principles to spatial information and implement relational data structures involving measurement sciences, thus using geomatics and acting as spatial information engineers. Geomatics engineers manage local, regional, national and global spatial data infrastructures. Geomatics Engineering also involves aspects of Computer Engineering, Software Engineering and Civil Engineering.

Geomatics is a field that incorporates several others such as the older field of land surveying engineering along with many other aspects of spatial data management ranging from data science and cartography to geography. Following the advanced developments in digital data processing, the nature of the tasks required of the professional land surveyor has evolved and the term "surveying" no longer accurately covers the whole range of tasks that the profession deals with. As our societies become more complex, information with a spatial position associated with it becomes more critical to decision-making, both from a personal and a business perspective, and also from a community and a large-scale governmental viewpoint.

Therefore, the geomatics engineer can be involved in an extremely wide variety of information gathering activities and applications. Geomatics engineers design, develop, and operate systems for collecting and analyzing spatial information about the land, the oceans, natural resources, and manmade features.

The more traditional land surveying strand of geomatics engineering is concerned with the determination and recording of boundaries and areas of real property parcels, and the preparation and interpretation of legal land descriptions. The tasks more closely related to civil engineering include the design and layout of public infrastructure and urban subdivisions, and mapping and control surveys for construction projects.

Geomatics engineers serve society by collecting, monitoring, archiving, and maintaining diverse spatial data infrastructures. Geomatics engineers utilize a wide range of technologically advanced tools such as digital theodolite/distance meter total stations, Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment, digital aerial imagery (both satellite and air-borne), and computer-based geographic information systems (GIS). These tools enable the geomatics engineer to gather, process, analyze, visualize and manage spatially related information to solve a wide range of technical and societal problems.

Geomatics engineering is the field of activity that integrates the acquisition, processing, analysis, display and management of spatial information. It is an exciting and new grouping of subjects in the spatial and environmental information sciences with a broad range of employment opportunities as well as offering challenging pure and applied research problems in a vast range of interdisciplinary fields.

In different schools and in different countries the same education curriculum is administered with the name surveying in some, and in others with the names geomatics, civil engineering surveying, geomatics engineering, geospatial (information) engineering, surveying engineering, or geodesy and geoinformatics. While these occupations were at one time often taught in civil engineering education programs, more and more universities include the departments relevant for geo-data sciences under informatics, computer science or applied mathematics. These facts demonstrate the breadth, depth and scope of the highly interdisciplinary nature of geomatics engineering. The job of geospatial engineer is well established in the U.S. military.[13][14]

4. Applications

Application areas include:

  • Aeromagnetic surveys
  • Airborne geophysics
  • Air navigation services
  • Archaeological excavation and survey for GIS applications
  • Coastal zone management and mapping
  • Disaster informatics for disaster risk reduction and response
  • The environment
  • Infrastructure management
  • Land management and reform
  • Natural resource monitoring and development
  • Seismic Interpretation
  • Subdivision planning
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Oceanography
  • Meteorology
  • Parks
  • Resource Management
  • Climate Change/Environmental Monitoring

5. Areas of Knowledge

Geomatics integrates science and technology from both new and traditional disciplines:

  • Geodesy
  • Geodynamics
  • Global positioning system (GPS) or global navigation satellite system (GNSS)
  • Surveying (including land, cadastral, aerial, mining and engineering surveying)
  • Hydrography
  • Navigation
  • Location-based services
  • Cartography and digital mapping
  • Geographic information systems (GIS), spatial database management and geographic information technology (GeoIT)
  • Spatial analysis, spatial data mining and knowledge discovery, and spatial statistics
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) and scientific visualization
  • Geovisualization, Geovisual Analytics, Visual communication design, graphic design and multimedia technology
  • Remote sensing
  • Image processing
  • Photogrammetry
  • Computer vision
  • Land information systems (LIS)
  • Land management, cadastre, real property law
  • Applications programming
  • Project management
  • Geoinformatics
  • Land Surveying
  • Digital terrain modelling


  1. "ACSG - Association canadienne des sciences géomatiques (Section Champlain) /// Des références utiles en géomatique". 
  2. Arrêté du 27 décembre 1994 relatif à la terminologie de la télédétection aérospatiale,, retrieved 2019-11-04 
  3. Paradis, Michel (September 1981). "De l'arpentage à la géomatique" (in French). Le Géomètre Canadien 35 (3): 262. 
  4. "Queensland University of Technology, Undergratuate Program - Spatial Science (Surveying)". 
  5. "Curtin University - Spatial science courses". 
  6. University of Tasmania, Centre for Spatial Information Science, Courses
  7. "University of Adelaide, Major in Ecology and Spatial Science". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  8. Melbourne University - Spatial Information Science
  9. "Surveying and geospatial sciences - RMIT University". 
  10. Texas A&M University, Spatial Sciences Laboratory
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-24. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  12. Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)
  13. "Geospatial Engineer Jobs (12Y)". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  14. "12Y Geospatial Engineer - National Guard". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
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