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Canadian Geomatics Study

Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study

Natural Resources Canada’s report profiles Canada’s geomatics sector and details the contributions of geospatial information to Canada’s economy and society

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What is the Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study?

The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study Summary Report provides highlights and key results from two major bodies of work carried out by Hickling Arthurs Low Corporation on behalf of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).  This research represents the most comprehensive assessment of geomatics and geospatial information in Canada to date.  To download reports on the findings, please click on the following two links:

  • The Value Study Findings Report is a detailed analysis of the economic and non-economic benefits associated with the use of geospatial technologies and services.  It defines for the first time, the overall economic gains to the Canadian economy associated with the use of geospatial information.

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What is geospatial information (GI) and why is it important?

Geospatial information (GI) identifies “where” natural, built or cultural objects are located relative to the Earth – in other words, their geographic location.  Combining location with other forms of data allows for better and more informed decision making.
GI is used in a wide variety of applications:

  • by business - e.g. transportation, construction, retail and marketing, utilities, natural resource management;
  • by government - e.g. property rights and boundaries, elections, weather, asset management, emergency response;
  • by universities and colleges - e.g. research;
  • by not-for-profit organizations - e.g. conservation; monitoring; and
  • by consumers - e.g. social networking, leisure, tourism, shopping.

The Geomatics Sector produces GI and makes the production and use of GI possible for others through geospatial services and technologies.  The Sector includes organizations from industry, government and academic institutions that:

  • create or capture geospatial data (e.g. through surveying, digitization, satellites); process, analyze and/or display GI;
  • deliver location-based services; and/or
  • develop geospatial technologies (e.g. sensors, positioning systems).

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What does the summary report tell us?

  • In 2013, about 2,450 private sector geomatics firms contributed $2.3 billion to the Canadian economy.
  • The use of geospatial information contributed $20.7 billion – or 1.1% of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $19 billion to Real Income, and generated approximately 19,000 jobs to the Canadian economy in 2013. Regional distributions of GDP and Real Income by region are available in the report.
  • The uptake of “open” geospatial data (data available a minimal or no cost and for use without restriction) provides an estimated additional $695 million to GDP and $635 million in real income in 2013.
  • National scale productivity impact estimates attributed to the use of geospatial information (measured by percentage change in industry output) are most significant (>1.0%) for:
  • mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction (4.54%)
  • transportation and warehousing (1.64%)
  • utilities (1.58%)
  • public administration (1.51%)
  • construction (1.23%)
  • agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (1.22%)
  • management of companies and enterprises (1.08%)
  • Fourteen (14) case studies carried out as part of the Study describe important, but hard-to-measure social and environmental benefits, like:
  • improved health and safety for employees;
  • more effective deployment of public health campaigns;
  • increased competitive advantage for companies;
  • more livable cities;
  • better coordination and planning for asset management;
  • more of the “right” habitats conserved;
  • more effective assessment of risks;
  • and many more...

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What do findings of the Study mean?

Prashant Shukle, Director General of NRCan’s Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) explains the importance of the report’s findings:

For the first time, we have quantified not only the contributions of Canada’s geomatics sector to the economy in terms of GDP and employment, but we have captured the significant economic and non-economic benefits to Canada’s economy, society and environment that the adoption and use of geospatial information (GI) makes possible.

The productivity benefits that accompany the use of GI in a variety of applications are of particular significance, not only for innovation within Canada’s vertical industries, but for federal or provincial governments – who tend to have silos of geomatics expertise and have been slower to fully use and integrate GI into operations, planning and policy-making.

Our need to understand where we should invest has never been greater.  The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study will go a long way to informing how and why NRCan chooses geospatial investments.

Natural Resources Canada is grateful to all of the people who generously contributed their efforts and insights to this work.

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Questions or comments about the Study?

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