Voices of future

Jan 2009 | No Comment

Prof George Cho

University of Canberra Australia

In this article students from around the globe were canvassed on their views on their studies in geomatics and GNSS. Interesting commentaries and views were received from twelve students. There were a number of common threads that run through their views and these include the major challenges of costs of equipment and software, distinctions between geomatic education, training and research, beyond space, time and everyday applications, multidisciplinarity, and commerce versus geomatic research.


Views here include the cost of the infrastructure, the software and how educational institutions have been unable to keep pace with the rapid changes and developments in the fi eld. Included here are the diffi culties of underwriting the costs while maintaining the accuracy, volume and breadth of the geospatial data generated by GNSS technologies.

Geomatic education, training and research

As geomatics includes other fields such as logistics, intelligent transport

systems, environmental studies and urban planning, it is evident that the study area is both multi- as well as interdisciplinary. This alone makes the study interesting and intriguiging as some students found it diffi cult to distinguish between the discipline area and the study in regards to education, research and training. One identified it as beyond an individual technology but stressed that the technology’s importance in everyday life is paramount. Quality education should give a broad perspective to the methodological aspects and to the variety of applications that deal with time and space. Students also identified the importance of having good basic foundations in the sciences in order to fully benefi t from what geomatics as a discipline has to offer.

Commerce versus geomatic research

It seems that geomatics is seen as a follower rather than a leader. The needs of commerce are quite different from those in research. There is a common lament among some students that the commercial fi eld requires technicians and skilled personnel. However, these do not offer the challenges that bright young minds are capable of. Herein lies the dilemma between commercial needs and the needs of satisfying inquiring minds. The latter fi nd little or no support to further their research aspirations.

As the geomatics fi eld is yet to become a well-known or mainstream study area there are only a small number of established departments or professional discipline areas that can provide employment. However, this is changing rapidly with geomatics becoming an enabler of all fields

of endeavour as well as being a partner in research and commercial applications. There is hope yet that careers may be build out of this field and challenges satisfied.

New skills required to exploit spatial data

Sheelan Sh.Vaez

PhD student, Melbourne University, Australia

While the rapid growth of land and geographic information systems around the world the high level of interest and activity is already causing a major dilemma in the personnel area. However, while the lack of technical and professional personnel is a barrier to the growth of the information industries in general, the public and private sectors must show greater commitment and recognition of the need for better educated and trained people within the industry.
I am currently studying PhD of Geomatics in the Department of Geomatics, University of Melbourne. In my opinion there are many problems and issues facing an educational institution recognizing that Geomatics is a multi disciplinary field. Professional practice in Geomatics faces a number of challenges for the future. The technical development requires new skills to exploit new spatial data sources and make use of new methodology. Furthermore, the growing demand of the society for the spatial related data dictates the multi-disciplinary approach in the practical as well as scientific areas of profession. The new technologies and methodologies in the fi elds of Geomatics are inevitably entering the everyday practice. The university study programmes are not always able to follow the quick development of every segment of this wide profession, also due to expensive equipment, data, specialized knowledge and teaching materials. Nowadays, there are several possibilities for students to gain the additional knowledge, practical experiences and different perspective of the profession, for example e-learning, international mobility etc. A supplementary short-term education such as summer school can be further a nice opportunity to gain a specialized knowledge on selected topics for students and young researchers from different profession.

Need to know capabilities of GNSS

Deok Won Lim

Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea

The studies on geomatics and GNSS cover a broad spectrum of engineering and sciences. These areas require knowledge in electronics, astronomy, geomatics and economics. Students should be fi rstly educated on the system architecture and fundamentals, which are including GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, Beidou/Compass, and other augmentation systems such as WAAS and EGNOS. These GNSS systems offer at least three services which are location-based services (LBS), precise timing and scientific services such as for the monitoring of the Total Electron Content (TEC) of the atmosphere.
Students also need to know capabilities and limitations of GNSS. On a differential mode (DGNSS), GNSS could give positioning accuracy to 2-3 meters only and height to about 5-7 meters. With the use of carrier phase measurements, position accuracy would be up to about several centimeters. Limitations to GNSS services are what interrupt the operation of its system, such as the delays in medium of the signal caused by the atmosphere and troposphere, and signal blockages by dense tree foliage and structures. To reduce these limitations a new generation of GNSS is being developed now. Finally students who are studying GNSS are strongly recommended to know the extent of applications. Actually the GNSS systems are being applied to military services and space vehicles as well as personal navigation. By educating these applications of GNSS, the students should expect the marketability of GNSS. In conclusion, the education for the students who want to research GNSS should provide the fundamentals, capabilities and limitations, and applications of GNSS.

Challenge is high cost of equipment

Ruzinoor Che Mat

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

As a student in this fi eld, in my opinion GNSS/Geomatic educations has great possibilities and challenge to move forward in order to produce an excellent student in this new era. As I go through the course in this fi eld, there are many challenges need to be faced by the students. One of the challenges is that, in order to understand the theory of GNSS/Geomatic, the students should also have a strong knowledge on engineering study. They need to fully understand the operation of satellite in GNSS systems to obtain one coordinate from signal transmit to the suitable receiver. At least four satellites are required during operation.
This kind of operation is very complex in technically and diffi cult to understand by some students as they cannot visualise how the signal was transmitted and received. These problems have high possibilities to be solved by introducing new type of learning by utilising the multimedia tools such as animation, simulation, and video training. The other challenge is that the signal could only be achieved outdoor with the open sky but not indoor. The signal cannot penetrate the building walls and dense foliage. So, the students can only do the practical training in the open space and during the clear weather but not in heavy rain. Sometime, in this type of condition the signal also not available. However, with the possibilities of 78 satellites (24 GPS, 24 GLONASS, and 30 GALILEO) in the orbit by 2018, the above problems could be possibly solved as it will increase the satellite availability and enhanced the accuracy. The positioning inside the building also will be made possible. In my view the most trivial challenge is high cost of equipment and software related to the field. This will make the availability of the equipment during the hands on training is inadequate
that may affect the learning process.

There are unlimited opportunities

Malambo Moonga Lonesome

University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart, Germany

I believe that Geomatics is a very rich discipline. It is rich because it is applicable in various fi elds of research and businesses. Generally, information is obtained by providing answers to the “where”, “what” or “why” questions. Geomatics/GNSS meets these needs for researchers, governments and businesses.
We are in a very demanding information age. GNSS or Geomatics in general, together with the Internet, now play an even greater role in the information delivery process. Quick access to spatial information is now possible because of advances in GNSS/Geomatics. Navigation by GPS or finding information using popular web based services like Google maps, Yahoo Maps are some of the notable applications that have emerged from this development. These developments have improved the quality of life for people around the whole world. Being associated with such developments and technologies is a source of great joy for me.
Studying at the University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart (Germany) has exposed me to a variety of technologies in Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics. That has made me fully convinced that there are unlimited opportunities for business and formal employment in the Geomatics profession. As GNSS/ Geomatics become even more applicable to other disciplines, the domain is getting wider. This in effect increases the job opportunities for the discipline.
The Geomatics industry is changing so fast. New instruments, software packages and techniques come on the market every year. The challenge in this fi eld is to keep abreast with these new developments.

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