Geomatics Engineering: A Collaborative Process to Solve Real-World Problems
The term “geomatics engineering” has been the source of much debate over the years within the surveying and mapping community. For George Constantinescu, CEO of ORTHOSHOP Geomatics, Ltd., the essence of the term is quite simple: Providing access to accurate spatial information to help guide wise decisions that impact our lives and our planet. Geomatics engineering combines the use of spatial information with the practical application of scientific and technical knowledge.
“Most clients need more than just data,” Constantinescu said. “They need someone to filter data, determine what data are reliable and relevant, and then extract the intelligence from the data that solves the problem.”
In the broadest definition, geomatics deals with measurements in the context of the Earth. It is not a recent discovery; the desire to measure and map our environment has always existed. It is just that the many constituent elements of geomatics (remote sensing, satellite global positioning, inertial navigation, surveying, cartography, photogrammetry, geographic information systems, etc.) have previously been regarded as separate areas of expertise rather than as an integrated knowledge base.
While geomatics engineering may be a relatively unknown discipline to the general public, many of the products that it creates are widely used. We have all become reliant upon satellite imagery derived maps and the navigational systems that they enable. In addition, the contributions of geomatics to our increasingly environmentally-conscious lives are numerous and diverse.
Applying geomatics tools to solve real-world problems requires an intimate knowledge of both the problem and of the geomatics technologies available. “The more tools we can deploy, the more likely we are to arrive at an optimal solution, but the tools must be applied correctly,” Constantinescu said.
ORTHOSHOP, which serves clients in diverse industries including oil and gas, mineral exploration, transportation, and utilities, as well as government agencies, emphasizes building relationships with its clients while providing custom solutions, which are engineered and executed in-house from beginning to end. “We believe that direct communication with end users with a single point of responsibility for the solution results in better value and streamlined execution, both aspects of our operation that benefit our clients,” Constantinescu said. “We spend time divining the nature of the problem and together with our clients, arrive at an optimized solution. We then implement the solution entirely in-house, exercising control over the entire execution process. Our approach is built on trust and closely couples the solution with the client’s needs.”
After consulting with clients, ORTHOSHOP engineers develop plans making use of the wide array of technologies at their disposal, which include a flight department consisting of three fully instrumented survey aircraft, two Leica ALS70 laser scanners, three Leica RCD30 digital aerial cameras, legacy analog sensors and complete in-house data processing and analytical capabilities. “Each stage of the project depends on its predecessor, and we have found it essential to directly control every aspect of execution in order to ensure the desired final result,” said Constantinescu. “Our clients insist on results, not excuses, as indeed do we.”
In North America, a typical project might encompass the construction of a new pipeline or electric transmission line. “These types of energy infrastructure developments impact many constituencies, each with legitimate concerns,” said Constantinescu. “Our role is to ensure that accurate geospatial information is available so the proponents are able to optimize their project to support discourse based on facts rather than conjecture.”
As the complexity of the problems increase, the importance of developing a close relationship with clients also grows. It is advantageous for both parties when a solution provider takes the time to fully understand the situation before communicating the options and the resulting impacts back to the client. This approach helps clients realize the limitations and possibilities of the tools, and avoids unwelcome surprises during the project. It also leads to long-term growth for both organizations as they work together to explore the most efficient and effective applications for rapidly evolving technology.
“Ideally we are involved at the conceptual level, before community involvement, to identify the options and decide how to optimize these infrastructure projects and mitigate any negative impacts,” Constantinescu said. “As geomatics engineers, we take the time to understand the nature of the client’s problem, their objectives and the constraints that invariably exist. We have the necessary expertise to answer their questions, and we take the time to share the insights we have gained from the projects executed thus far. In our experience, collaboration is the best way to ensure success.”