Strategic Project Investment in the Canadian Geospatial Sector

Mar 17, 2014

I wish to elaborate on Objective 2 “Identify strategic project investments” and Objective 5 “Strategically focus on specialized value-added, interoperable geospatial information services” as stated the Market Dimension section of the Pan-Canadian Geomatics Strategy. Both these objectives, in my view, refer to industry gaining a unique edge within a Canadian identified priority, by solving a Canadian problem, with the support of government funding. Such a capability edge would improve Canadian industry competitiveness internationally, especially in light of competition from low-cost countries such as India.

The achievement of these two objectives could be greatly enhanced if geomatics was to be given a greater role in the Canadian government’s Northern Strategy. The Government of Canada has long recognized the importance of the Arctic; such importance is highlighted by the current government with its policy focus on the north, in terms of sovereignty, environment and resources. Within the framework of the Northern Strategy, several anchor programs were planned, funded and implemented. These included GeoMapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM)led by Natural Resources Canada and Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) led by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada .

GEM was designed to help unlock mineral and energy potential in the North. CCAP supports Aboriginal and northern communities to address risks and challenges caused by climate change impacts. Within both programs, geomatics technologies are used in address certain technical requirements. However, the geomatics sector would have benefited from greater technology advancement if conscious choices of investment had been made to address certain challenges identified in these two programs.


An example of commercial success for the Canadian geomatics sector has been the operational use of SAR for ice mapping and maritime monitoring. This technology, from the design and building of RADARSAT to the operational use of its imagery in delivering decision-support information, arose from a unique Canadian situation, to address specific Canadian needs. Information provided by RADARSAT has now become part of many global workflows and a success story for Canadian industry.

The need to tap into natural resources in remote, harsh environments and the need to adapt to climate change are not unique to Canada. Many nations would be able to benefit from Canadian capabilities in this areas. GEM and CCAP could very well be the “Significant nation / community building projects of common interest to government and industry”, as stated in Recommendation 1 of Market Dimension.

Vivienne Wu – Sales Director, North America Data and Service, Space and Remote Sensing Group at MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd


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