The geomatics industry is growing year on year - with its global market share expected to reach US $439.2 billion by 2020 - but it's struggling to attract young, fresh talent.
Traditionally, when children are asked the age-old question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, they don’t tend to reply with, “a survey and mapping professional”.
Why is this? Well, nobody tells children that geomatics is cool.
Living the dream
As kids, we’re drawn irrevocably to the dynamic and the dramatic. We envision ourselves as firefighters; heroically saving families from fires and cats from trees; and as policemen chasing ‘bad guys’ down in souped-up saloon cars.
Reality dawns quickly – usually around the onset of high school – where we discover the graft that goes into having the jobs we dreamed of as kids. So, most of us settle for something in one of two camps: “Do what you love”, or “Do what’s sensible”.
Geography is our first foray into the world of geomatics, and its grouped rather unceremoniously into the “humanities” squad alongside Religious Education, History, English, and Philosophy.
Over the last ten years, however, the number of students choosing Geography as one of their additional subjects has been increasing steadily.
So, what have educators been doing to encourage students to consider Geography-based jobs as their careers? And what exactly needs to be done to interest students in geomatics?
In this article, Landform Surveys takes a look at geomatics as a study option and a career, and discusses how the industry can make itself more attractive to the younger generation.
How have educators been promoting geomatics?
In 2006, the government placed a substantial investment into the teaching of Geography within the UK. The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) were the forerunners of this campaign; pushing it into the public eye by bringing together representatives from across the country.
Universities, schools, business leaders, and employers gathered to promote the £3.8million endeavour, and by the time the coalition government came into power a whole new curriculum had been approved and implemented.
Geography at GCSE level (the exams taken aged 16 that determine which A-Levels the student can choose), is a healthy mix of both the “what and where” of Geography, as well as the “how and why”.
Students look at Human Geography, which involves population increase and decrease, how globalisation occurs, and the way people interact with the planet.
In the Physical Geography section, they study how land is formed and destroyed, the way natural disasters impact the climate, and how to read maps and understand Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
The government’s focus on Geography seems to have worked in schools, as more and more students are taking Geography and going on to study Geography related degrees like geomatics and geology.
And, as the IoT continues to connect our society with constantly updated geospatial data, having fresh young minds capable of using such innovative technology in the Geomatics sector is more important than ever before.
Making time for technology
The geomatics sector is gearing towards newer, brighter, and bigger technologies to try and win over the younger generation.
It’s time to quash the idea that studying Geography leads to poring over static maps and rock-collecting in the Lake District – by compiling and presenting data using 4D tech, we’re able to make geomatics more hands-on and increase learning opportunities.
The younger generations are wired to expect speed and efficiency. With software like MapD’s Core SQL Engine, thousands of queries complete in less than a second and offer researchers instant data. For young people interested in statistics and visual representations of Big Data, this type of software will open their eyes to the emerging tech changing the face of geomatics.
Team up with schools
By teaming up with schools and delivering data-driven presentations and lectures, we’re able to show students of all ages that geomatics is cool!
Explaining to children where data comes from gives it value and meaning. For all they know, our document full of crucial rescue operation data from the Haiti earthquake is just a spreadsheet dotted with random-looking numbers.
By explaining that geospatial data is acquired by satellites, aircraft, drones, 3D scanning, and autonomous vehicles, we’re able to explain to children why it’s important to be collecting data at all times.
We believe that by conducting accurate and detailed surveys with the latest equipment, we’re adding to the fount of public geodata available to the surveyors of the future.
By furthering this, we give the generations below us the knowledge they need to survive as the planet and climate continue to change.