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Geomatics is the science of measuring, interpreting, visualizing, and analyzing spatial information, often through three-dimensional models and maps. Geomatics technicians/technologists determine the exact locations and positions of natural and man-made features by collecting data from maps, surveys, remote sensing, and GIS databases. They work with sophisticated software to model and analyze visible surface features, as well as what is hidden underground and underwater.
At a glanceImagine watching Vancouver in the midst of a severe earthquake, its coastal areas disappearing under water, emergency routes cut off, natural gas fed fires blazing, and buildings collapsing on every street. But you are safe. You are a geomatics technician/technologist thousands of kilometres away in your Toronto office. What you're watching is a simulation built on a model of Vancouver to demonstrate the destruction of a magnitude 8 earthquake. You were asked to build this model by Vancouver's city planners, who are re-evaluating the transportation and storage of dangerous goods in the city's core and are concerned about the potential for spills should an earthquake hit the west coast. This earthquake simulation model will give these planners valuable information and enable them to make wise decisions for the city's future. As a geomatics technician/technologist, you took more than a year to build this model, which was a huge project. You and your team conducted a full-scale vulnerability study of Vancouver in order to make the earthquake simulation as real as possible. You started by identifying natural hazards such as fault lines, low-lying coastal areas, unstable slopes, and unconsolidated soils. You took the spatial information from these hazards and entered them into your geographic information system (GIS). Next, you looked for potential man-made hazards, for example dams, chemical manufacturing plants, petroleum refineries, and high-rise buildings, to add another dimension to your vulnerability map. You used GPS to gather information on important transportation networks, including freight and passenger train routes, dangerous goods routes, and major intersections through the city. You also added spatial data for underground utilities, water, natural gas, telephone, and electrical lines. You combined all these factors to produce the model, which demonstrates for your clients what would be the city's most vulnerable areas should a major earthquake shake Canada's west coast.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a geomatics technician:
- Gather spatial data and property information on buildings and other structures, for example bridges, dams, tunnels, and refineries.
- Assist in developing methods and procedures for conducting field surveys.
- Link spatial data to various tabular data for land administration purposes.
- Perform calculations and field layouts for horizontal, vertical, and spiral curves.
- Conduct detailed surveys on projects such as highways, urban streets, and railways
- Produce thematic maps and websites.
- Plan and conduct control surveys for mapping purposes.
- Create and process digital databases to compile geographical information in numerical and graphical formats.
Work environmentGeomatics technicians/technologists work in a variety of locations, including: In the office:
- Gathering, entering, and analyzing spatial data, including managing and manipulating databases
- Generating maps, models, and websites
- Reviewing maps, photos, and surveys and capturing data
- Coordinating field logistics, including preparing equipment and materials
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders
- Recording and verifying data and map information
- Performing calculations and field layouts of survey sites
- Coordinating field logistics
Where to work
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Surveying and computer mapping companies
- Environmental and engineering consulting companies
- GIS/geomatics and seismic services firms
- Other industries, for example oil and gas, tourism, forestry, and mining
- Self-employed consultant
Education & requirementsIn most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a geomatics technician is a college technical diploma. The following post secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:
- Geographic information systems
- Computer science
- Land information management
- Natural resource management
- Computer science