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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 'maps'.
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.
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 innovation.
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L'Analyse de la conjoncture du secteur canadien de la géomatique et étude sur la valeur est la première grande étude sur l'état de la géomatique
au Canada. Le rapport décrit le profil du secteur géomatique au Canada; les tendances nationales et internationales (marchés, technologies, sociales, économiques, données ouvertes) comprenant des informations géospatiales (IG) et la position du
Canada eu égard à ces tendances; l'importance et la valeur du secteur de la géomatique et de l'IG dans la société et l'économie canadiennes; et le rôles traditionnels et changeants du gouvernement, de l'industrie et des établissements d'enseignement
dans la production et l'utilisation de l'information des données géospatiales alors qu'émergent de nouvelles possibilités tirées par les tendances mondiales et les nouveaux acteurs dans le marché.