Canada has been at the leading edge of innovation and use of geospatial technologies. With the need to govern so much geography and resource potential juxtaposed against a relatively
small population, the question of where was and continues as a preoccupation in the national discourse. As we have shaped geospatial technologies, they have shaped us. Over the last decade, the manner in which we create, manage, and especially use
location-based information has changed both rapidly and radically. New technologies, business models, the rise of citizen data providers, and social media have all changed how we create and share all forms of geospatial information - even
There are some 2,450 firms making up the geomatics industry that generated about $2.3 billion in revenue in 2013. Companies in the sector are mostly small - nearly 75% having fewer than 50 employees - and employ people disproportionately
in two regions: Quebec and the Prairies. In response to the last wave of developments, especially with the advent of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Earth observation satellites, there was rapid development of geomatics firms, with over half of
existing firms commencing operations between 1970 and 1990. The rate at which new companies entered the sector peaked in the 1980s, but has been in significant decline since 2000.
Canadian academic institutions have worked effectively to support
the skills needs of the market and to produce the new knowledge and technology diffusion required to keep the sector vibrant. The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan Findings Report (Hickling Arthurs Low, 2015a) includes profiles of ninety-four of
Canada's universities and colleges offering programs in some aspects of geospatial information studies. There are five universities in Canada that offer geomatics engineering degrees: the University of New Brunswick, the University of Calgary, York
University, Ryerson University, and Laval University.
The most important findings of the study are the benefits that geospatial information provides to users. In economic terms, geospatial technologies contribute some $21 billion of value to
Canada's Gross Domestic Product (1.1%), and generate approximately 19,000 jobs in Canada's economy.
The range of social and environmental benefits are even more impressive, although difficult to measure in economic terms, encompassing improved
resource stewardship, better response to disease outbreaks, speedier deployment of first responders in emergency situations, and coordinated and timely management of physical infrastructure.
Open geospatial data is also making a difference, and
this study estimates that $650 million is added to Canada's GDP as a result of its use. The full potential of open data will be realized through combining foundational geomatics data with other government data holdings such as health, public safety,
and climate information.
Significant forces are shaping geomatics in Canada. Here, the fundamental finding is that market demand is shifting emphasis from production of base information to value-added products and services, and in particular, to
consumer application-based geospatial information. A wave of disruptive change has enabled non-specialists to take on tasks that were formerly reserved for geomatics specialists, expanding the professional reach of geospatial technologies into
engineering and information technology. This is blurring traditional boundaries. The rapidly evolving 'applications solution' market is global and very competitive.
The major actors are adapting: the geomatics sector is consolidating and
integrating with other disciplines, firms are remixing offerings to include more value-added services, and academic institutions are adjusting their curricula to broaden the number of disciplines gaining exposure to geomatics and the innovation
potential of geospatial data and technologies.
In governments, this cycle of disruptive change, combined with the convergence with other data-driven technologies, is opening new possibilities for complex decision-making and analysis across
jurisdictions, while reducing historical requirements for specialized stand-alone domain investments. It is also challenging governments to stay apace with the demands for up-to-date foundation geospatial-information products that drive industry
|Summary||(Plain Language Summary, not published)|
The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study is the first major study on the state of geomatics in Canada. The report describes the profile
of the geomatics sector in Canada; domestic and global trends (market, technology, social, economic, open data) involving geospatial information (GI) and Canada's position relative to those trends; the significance and value of the geomatics sector
and GI to Canadian society and the economy; and the traditional and changing roles of government, industry and academia in producing and using geospatial data and information as new opportunity spaces driven by global trends and new players in the