Is there value in formalizing definitions for both the Geomatics Sector and Geospatial Community that capture a meaningful relationship between the two? The ongoing Geomatics versus Geospatial debate once again became the focus of spirited discussion on the second day of the recent Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT) ‘Team Canada’ Geomatics Strategy, Action, and Implementation Planning Workshop. At the conclusion of the debate at the Team Canada Event, the majority of participants seemed to agree “geomatics” should remain the word used to describe our sector.

HINT: It’s not his secret recipe for crispy chicken! On the first day of the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT) workshop in Ottawa on June 9 – Condé Nast posted the article, “The Fast-Food Advertisement That Was Visible From Space”. Naturally, curiosity got the best of me, and I opened up the article to find KFC’s Colonel Sanders smiling up at the heavens from Nevada’s famous Route 375 – the “extraterrestrial highway”.

Well, day one is done! It was a good day – filled with good conversation, inspiring ideas and an overwhelming spirit of collegiality. Best of all – the 100 people in the room were able to prioritize strategic objectives for the Canadian Geomatics Community. Here are the results of Day One: Pan Canadian Geomatics Day 1 Summary. Still a little messy, some wordsmithing remains to be done … but these priorities will guide the action and implementation planning tomorrow.

Next week, the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT) will convene in Ottawa to work out how to achieve a vision for the year 2020 as defined in the Pan-Canadian Geomatics Strategy. I’ll be representing Open North, a non-profit with a mandate to create online tools to educate and empower citizens to participate actively in Canadian democracy. We’re particularly interested in the “Data Sources” dimension of the Strategy, which identifies issues, strategic objectives, and possible actions with respect to geospatial data access. Open geospatial data is fundamental to the success of our tools. For example, one ongoing project has had us assembling all federal, provincial, and municipal electoral boundaries across the country. The experience has highlighted the need for more consistent access to key datasets at all levels of government.

In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, it seems like déjà vu all over again. Haven’t we had this conversation before? What can possibly be different in the world of geomatics from my undergrad days when in History of Geographic Thought class we pondered the weighty question, “What is geography”? I doubt any would disagree – much has changed. To some extent brought on by our own success but also the result of broad technology advances, changing societal expectations and market opportunities.