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MAPPS Finds Membership Apprehensive About the Economy in 2009 Economic Survey

RESTON, VA - Principals of the nation's leading private geospatial firms anticipate a slowing economy in 2009, according to an independent survey conducted by MAPPS. The survey, conducted by Dr. Steven Cox, McColl School of Business, Queens University of Charlotte, NC, concluded that MAPPS members have an apprehensive look at the current economy and geospatial market. Highlights include:
  • Federal, State, and local government, and commercial markets, are expected to decline in 2009, but the decline in Federal markets is anticipated to be less severe than the others. The one market that MAPPS members see increasing in 2009 is the international market.
  • Over 50 percent of respondents indicated there would be no growth in their current workforce and 30 percent said there would be a decline. This comes despite the U.S. Department of Labor targeting the geospatial community as one of the high growth sectors in the U.S. economy.
  • Over 50 percent of firm principals expect capital investments in equipment, including hardware and software, to significantly decline in 2009.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of firms say they are operating at their maximum capacity.
The survey conducted January 13-16, 2009, was completed by 50 percent of the private geospatial firms that make up the MAPPS membership. The results of the survey were presented to the MAPPS membership by Dr. Cox at the MAPPS Winter Conference on January 24, 2009.

The results among US-based private firms are similar to those in a survey of counterparts in the private geospatial community in the membership of The Survey Association (TSA) in the United Kingdom. The MAPPS survey was modeled after TSA's data collection.

"The results of the survey clearly indicated that the mapping and geospatial profession is not immune to the economic slow down and that pessimism exits in all sectors," said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello. "The trends are widespread throughout the membership and is common to all subsets, such as geographic location, firm size, practice area or business model."

"While this is not a doom and gloom forecast, it does show considerable apprehension among our member firm principals," Palatiello said. "We are hopeful the recently enacted stimulus bill, or future Congressional and Administration action, will help create a greater demand for geospatial services, data and technology so our member firms can save and create jobs, while serving the nation's geospatial needs. We believe geospatial activities have a significant multiplier effect in the economy, so if we can get geospatial growing, we can help the overall economy rebound."

MAPPS member firms are private geospatial companies based in the United States that acquire geospatial data. Associate Members, firms that are based outside of the United States or equipment and software manufacturers, were not polled. The exclusion of the Associate Members was intended to provide a homogeneous group of firms engaged in geospatial data acquisition, production and application services.

Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. Current MAPPS memberships span the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. MAPPS provides its 170+ member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement.

For more information on MAPPS, please visit

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