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You have come to the right place! Think Spatial is a consulting agency run by students to serve the geospatial needs of the BYU community, including students, faculty, and administration. Established in 2013, we have since made maps for scholarly publications, developed web mapping sites, helped administrative units develop spatial data, and assisted professors in conducting analysis for their research.
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While most programs combine surveying and geomatics, the latter is broader in scope and covers remote sensing, photogrammetry, geodesy, environmental visualization, geographic information systems, land management, and mapping sciences, among others. Universities and colleges offer programs and diplomas such as geomatics engineering technology, geography and environmental management, civil engineering, etc. Students are taught subjects such as terrestrial laser scanning, construction surveying, geographic information systems, automated drafting, and geodesy and map projections. Programs in geospatial management cover subjects and areas such as Internet GIS, geodatabases, geospatial modelling, etc.
Students in Bachelor programs also study subjects such as numerical analysis, concrete materials, intro to structural design, and geomatics measurement techniques. Other core subjects include civil engineering systems, wastewater engineering, and image analysis and remote sensing. Other subjects offered as part of Bachelor programs include satellite geodesy, data modelling and estimation, and photogrammetry and digital mapping.
Career programs in surveying and geomatics give students plenty of opportunities for development. Career paths include mapping specialist, photogrammetrist, cartographer, database and visualization specialist, and survey field technician. Other positions to look into are reflective systems assistant, survey engineering technician, and geomatics surveyor, among others. When it comes to pay scale, salaries vary greatly depending on position, experience, and location. In Canada, the minimum salary is about $40,700 and the maximum salary – about $103,300.
Specialists in geomatics and engineering work for utility companies, businesses in the tourism sector, survey and engineering firms, and oil and mining companies. They also work for resource conservation authorities, federal, provincial, and municipal agencies, and map production and design companies. Surveying and geomatics specialists also work for information technology companies, GIS consulting firms, and environmental management agencies, among others. As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for professional growth and various career paths to choose from.
Financing and Other Issues
College education is expensive if you are the average Canadian student applying for a college degree. The good news is that there are many options to finance your education, including scholarships, grants, part-time jobs, student credit cards (lifeoncredit.ca/top-6-secured-credit-cards-for-canadians or lifeoncredit.ca/top-5-student-credit-cards-for-young-canadians), government-sponsored loans, etc. Student loans are offered by big and small banks in Canada to part-time and full-time students. Government-sponsored loans are also available to students who are Canadian permanent residents or citizens enrolled in accredited institutions of higher education (lifeoncredit.ca). Students who are enrolled in certificate and diploma programs or degree programs also qualify for financing. In addition to different borrowing options, there are a number of scholarships available to undergraduate and graduate students, including government and non-governmental scholarships and fellowships. They are also offered by institutes and funds to both international and domestic students. Some types of financial assistance are available to students enrolled in specific programs and universities. Examples of awards offered to engineering students include the F.T.M. White Award, Leonard G. Berry Memorial Award, and G.D. Estey Memorial Prize, among others.
Geospatial Data In Canada
Geospatial data, also known as geodata and GIS data offers information such as satellite images and road networks from GIS. There are different types of information such as digitalized images, satellite imagery, raster and vector data (areas, lines, and points).
Canadian Government Initiatives
The Federal Geospatial Platform is one initiative of the Canadian government and more specifically – the Federal Committee on Geomatics and Earth Observations. The project covers geospatial applications, services, and data that help facilitate environmental protection, wellbeing, and economic growth. The goal is to offer access to information to interested parties, including researchers, universities, the private sector, and the public. Through Open Maps, visitors have the opportunity to analyze, visualize, and even combine geospatial information. The Canadian GeoSecretariat is another initiative that brings together interested parties, including non-for-profits, professional associations, academic institutions, businesses, and governmental agencies. The goal is to facilitate cooperation and jointly develop technologies, systems, data layers, and common standards as part of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure. There are different initiatives to this end such as the Water and Environmental Hub, the National Imagery Service, the Open North Project, and others. The Open North Project or Open 511 is designed as a framework for the publishing and management of different road events. The Water and Environmental Hub is another initiative that builds on the water information portal to offer visitors access to a variety of geospatial datasets, applications, and tools. Finally, the National Imagery Service aims to develop best practices and policies as well as business and service models for imagery services.
Finding Free Geospatial Data in Canada
There are plenty of resources that offer access to data, including Environment Canada, the Atlas of Canada, the Alberta Geological Survey, and others. Some are national while others are regional and local when it comes to focus. Environment Canada, for example, offers visitors information across disciplines, subjects, and themes, including environmental technologies and prediction, pollution, climate and weather, soil, water, biodiversity, wildlife, and so on. The Atlas of Canada is also handy to use, and users are free to print and download maps. The Alberta Geological Survey also offers information and maps for users to learn more about mineral resources, groundwater, drift thickness, and bedrock and surface geology in Alberta. There are other regionally-based free data sources such as the Calgary Region Open Data, Alberta Historical Orthophotos, the BC Community Mapping Network, and the Manitoba Land Initiative, among others. The Community Infrastructure Mapping System, for example, offers users information related to employment and childcare centers, museums, archives, and historical sites in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Mapping System also offers information about universities, schools, libraries, colleges, and arts and culture centers as well as family resource centers, personal care and long term care homes, and a lot more. In addition to location and address, users learn more about nearby facilities such as libraries and employment centers. The Nova Scotia Open Data Portal is also a regionally-based geospatial data source that offers information on environment and nature, government administration, economy and business, social services, and more. Users can view data by type – maps, forms, filtered news, files and documents, external databases, charts, and calendars. There are also data resources with plenty of information about the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Territories Geological Survey is one example worth mentioning, offering access to assessment reports, publications, data research tools, and more. Visitors are also free to view and download open reports, new publications, and open files related to watersheds, lakes, mineral concentrates, surficial geology, and a lot more.
- Think Spatial should encourage a holistic approach to capturing, storing, analysing and interrogating all business information from source systems, where the spatial “where” layer is a core attribute within corporate systems.
The rapidly changing business data landscape is rapidly driving changes in the storage and exploitation of data. This leaves GIS professionals wrangling with our old problem of how we promote the utilisation of spatial information in our organisations – getting them to Think Spatial – to ensure that spatial data sits in heart of our organisation.
The “pull” for spatial data by users and customers only grows over time. Whether that’s through smart apps on phones which pinpoint assets and customers (Uber, Just Eat, Laundrapp to name just a tiny few), or to understand where your assets are and the factors which may affect their condition or performance (number of trains over a specific section of track, and weather conditions that can impact the condition of the track asset, or the operational service performance of a section of line). The need and the opportunity to understand “where” and Think Spatial is greater than it has ever been.
Historically, the problem has been that organisations implemented corporate databases and systems across their architecture, and then additional, separate, GIS databases and systems. As GIS users, sure, you might have used a “table join” to connect this data together locally and analyse it. You might have created a “view” that joined corporate information. But you had to do that, because we were not making geometry a core attribute (column) right at the heart of our data. We had to improvise, make local copies/joins/views. This was partially down to traditional IT functions in organisations not really understanding spatial data, but equally, GIS professionals rather liked being “special” and having our very own environment just for us.
My key point for this post is that GIS cannot afford to remain as a side-line activity, and that spatial attribution should be a core part of your organisation’s data. We have moved beyond the days of a few desktop instances of a GIS package, using some locally stored “special” spatial data to perform some Business Analysis functions. GIS is still a specialist tool, but the business data analysed within this tool usually comes from across the spectrum of business systems, and for effective business operations we should be encouraging spatial attributes to be at the heart of core systems – GIS might be for the few, but spatial data is for the many. I will expand on this phrase more in a follow-up blog. But the widespread use of spatial data (not in a GIS) is reflected in the way we interact with Big Data and use our smart phones today. Smart devices ensure that “where” is absolutely critical in how we interact with one another and use services (Google, in order to find the nearest restaurant to our particular taste, for example). For an enterprise to truly gain value from all their data, they need to Think Spatial and capitalise on this capability. Perhaps a simplistic architecture that helps an organisation Think Spatial looks a little something like this:
What is important here from a GIS perspective is that GIS acts as a tool (one of many, potentially) to manage master data within the data environment. In this instance, GIS isn’t simply for creating a map in a desktop application, it’s a core data management function. This enables an organisation to Think Spatial, use spatial as a core attribute, and reap the benefits of an integrated spatial approach. How can this be achieved? Perhaps the diagrams below offer a couple of (simplistic) options:
In the master spatial DB approach, the “where” layer of data can be used to join across multiple systems/sources within the Enterprise Architecture (EA), and should simplify exports into the data warehouse (with geometry acting like a unique ID). In the integrated approach (most likely the next level of implementation) each system has the ability to store spatial information natively – this is where an enterprise is truly Thinking Spatial.
In reality, of course, your organisation needs to tailor its implementation to best align with your requirements and/or circumstances. But both GIS professionals and system/EA architects should be trying to Think Spatial in order get the most from all corporate systems and business activities, and therefore enable the business to realise greater benefits from their data. If not, your organisation may risk being left behind the competition. So, how can you help your organisation be ready to Think Spatial?
Think Spatial is a GIS and cartography consulting group housed within the BYU Geography Department. We are a student-run organization that serves the various mapping and spatial analysis needs of the BYU community. We work under faculty mentors who are experts in GIS and cartography, which allows us to develop practical skills while delivering professional-quality products for a fraction of the cost.
The BYU Geography Department has provided map design services to the Campus and LDS Church community since 1980, including products such as the Doctrine and Covenants (1981), the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992), and the Joseph Smith Papers (2010). In the past, the work was done by staff and faculty with student assistance. Then in 2013, we adopted a new model that allowed the students to take the lead; running the organization as a consulting agency while learning professional practices in a mentored environment.
Think Spatial 1.0 2013 to 2014
Blake Gulbransen (President), Marcus Romboy (Vice President), Wes Murch, Adam McCleary, Ben Babbel, Maurissa Weight, Adam Stokes, Casey Arnold, Chelsea Ackroyd.
- BYU Geography World Outline Map, Utah
- 3D Maps for Fag El Gamous Burial, Egypt
- Interactive Map for Farmington Museum, Utah
- Military Maps
- Remote Sensing analysis of the moon Titan
Think Spatial 2.0 2014 to 2015
Ben Babbel (President), Maurissa Weight, Sarah Tengan, Keith Cannon, Kimberly Wendt, Allison Erickson, Austen McCleary, Aubri Kinghorn, Adam Stokes, and Conrad Davis.
- Interactive Map for Farmington Museum, Utah
- Historic Provo Temple Site Map, Utah
- Carbon County Family History Maps, Utah
- Historical Guide Maps, Hawaii
- Elementary Schools, Utah
- Military maps
Think Spatial 3.0 2015 to 2016
Allison Erickson (President), Kimberly Wendt (Vice President), Austen McCleary, Parker Summers, Amber Summers, DJ Herr, Roman Huerta, Caleb Carpenter, Anthony Blackham, Natalie Barkdull, Cassie Howe, Clare Saiki, and Mike Pond.
- Missionary Travels of John Volker, Netherlands
- Digitizing of Land Use Maps, Bahamas
- The Church in Arizona
- BYU Harold B. Library Tabletop Maps, Utah
- Antebellum, Western USA
- LDS Schools, Utah
Think Spatial 4.0 2016 to 2017
Roman Huerta (President), Cassie Howe, Marlee Beers, Ryan Shields, Jeffery Stark
- BYU Harold B. Lee Library Table Top/Space Management Maps
- Northern Indian Mission
- The Book of Abraham
- California Book Map Series
- Borah Peak
- Saints at War
- Bryce Canyon Bear Analysis Tools
- Agave Map
- Ohio Reserve
- Music History Textbook
- Utah Marriage Commision Web Map
Intelligent Mapping (drop pinpoint as icon) check thinkspatial.com.au for pictures
ThinkSpatial has extensive experience in the production of intelligent, interactive, and cost-effective mapping solutions for deployment on desktops and/or mobile devices, in both online and offline environments. Our intelligent mapping solutions improve productivity, simplify workflows, and are practical and intuitive to use.
Whether for specific tasks or whole-of-project survey management, our highly qualified professional surveyors have the practical experience and problem-solving abilities to deliver the highest-quality surveying solution for your organisation. ThinkSpatial utilises a range of surveying and data processing technologies such as GNSS Receivers, Network RTK, Robotic Total Stations, and Laser Scanners.
Unmanned Aerial System
Traversing the skies at an altitude of 115m ThinkSpatial's eBee provides high resolution aerial imagery (including near-infrared) in a fraction of the time required by conventional methods. ThinkSpatial is a CASA certified operator and we provide a range of services including aerial imagery, digital elevation models, and derived datasets (e.g. NDVI, roads, buildings).
ThinkSpatial has a strong track record of designing and developing practical software and systems (for desktop and mobile devices) that solve clients' problems. Our spatial software services range from enterprise-wide management systems (IPAWS, iEotR) through to community engagement tools (Sightings Network) and standalone applications for specific purposes (ComQAT, RTQC).
Asset Capture & Inspection
ThinkSpatial provides asset capture and inspection services for local governments, management authorities, and private sector organisations throughout Victoria. Over the past few years we have developed an innovative combination of GNSS, consumer mobile devices, and a customised web mapping application to rapidly and accurately capture and inspect your asset base.
ThinkSpatial is the only commercial enterprise in Australia with the knowledge and technical skills required to efficiently use the Bernese Software — a scientific GNSS processing package used throughout the world to deliver the most accurate and precise GNSS positions and velocities. Our services include continuous monitoring and campaign-based processing.
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