I received a press release late yesterday afternoon about new bachelor’s and associate of science degrees in Geomatics at Utah Valley University (UVU)
. One phrase in particular caught my eye. In its description of the program, the university stated: “Geomatics, formerly known as Surveying… .”
Now, I have been aware for quite some time of the subtle shift toward the geomatics term. Increasingly, “geomatics division managers” head up “geomatics departments” both for equipment manufacturers and multidisciplinary engineering firms. POB
has long used the term in our official mission statement: We are “dedicated to helping the geomatics industry succeed through our coverage of new applications and evolving technologies, practical solutions to surveying and mapping problems, and business, legal and educational issues.” It is an internationally recognized term that encompasses the land surveying profession in the broader geospatial realm.
However, this is the first time that I have seen someone explicitly state that the term “geomatics” has replaced the term “surveying.”
Granted, this change is specifically for a university program. In discussions leading to the adoption of the new degrees, the UVU board of trustees noted that the name connotes a surveying degree that uses satellite technology—technology that allows both underground and above-ground surveying capability. The trustees also noted that “geomatics” is the emerging name and is sometimes included as part of a civil engineering degree.
The UVU press release went on to explain how geomatics “encompasses the acquisition, integration, modeling, and management of geospatial data. … Geomatics includes the process of transforming spatially referenced data into common information systems which have well defined accuracy characteristics. Geomatics also includes investigation, analysis, and application of boundary/property laws and legal principles pertaining to specific public and private properties.” The Utah Council of Land Surveyors, which represents approximately 90% of the surveyors in Utah, provided a recommendation letter for the new UVU program.
What are the implications longer term for the surveying profession? I know there are many who would argue vehemently to keep the land surveyor title. But if the next generation of professionals has a geomatics degree, will that automatically render the land surveyor title obsolete? Is the profession as a whole ready to embrace the term "geomatics"? Or is the entire discussion irrelevant in the face of an obvious need to expand education opportunities in the profession, regardless of the name of the discipline listed on the degree? Please share your comments below.