The Geomatics program offers an integrated approach for the study of various geospatial measurement systems and technologies.

GEOMATICS (GEM) PROGRAM

Geomatics refers to the integrated approach of measurement, analysis, and management of the descriptions and locations of geospatial data. These data come from many sources, including earth-orbiting satellites, air and sea-borne sensors and ground based instruments. It is processed and manipulated with state-of-the-art information technology. Geomatics has applications in all disciplines which depend on spatial data, including forestry, environmental studies, planning, engineering, navigation, geology and geophysics. It is thus fundamental to all areas of study which use spatially related data, such as Surveying, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry, Cartography, Geographic Information Systems, Property or Cadastral Studies and Global Positioning.

Geomatics as a discipline encompasses many fields involved in collecting, managing, analyzing and displaying geospatial information.

The Geomatics program is available at three locations in the state of Florida: on the main campus in Gainesville, at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC) or at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) in Plant City. The Geomatics program has been available at the main University campus in Gainesville (under different names) since 1973 and was introduced at the two Research and Education Centers at Fort Lauderdale and Plant City in 2007 under the statewide Geomatics Education initiative.

The Geomatics program at the University of Florida School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatics Sciences is the oldest program of its kind in the southeastern United States. Students have the opportunity to pursue a BS in Geomatics, an MS with a concentration in Geomatics or a PhD.  The Bachelor of Science in Geomatics is accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.
Our faculty in Geomatics lead research projects in precision elevation determination to monitor sea level rise, remote sensing methods for assessing agricultural crop health and the extent of invasive species, enhanced LiDAR measurements using drones, and GIS models of tourist behavior. They also address issues of land tenure in a global context such as:
  • What factors contribute to adaptive capacity of poor rural households and can they be enhanced to make these households more resilient?
  • Can we design more efficient, less costly, and more transparent methods for mapping property boundaries using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones?
  • What is the relationship between tenure security and human wellbeing and how can we measure this in developing countries?
  • How can tenure security in community-based customary tenure systems be enhanced?

The Bachelor's degree program in Geomatics has been accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. http://www.abet.org

ABET accreditation assures that programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields that are leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.

Mission Statement

The mission of the UF Geomatics Program is to provide its graduates with a modern, high-quality education and to foster their professionalism.

Program Educational Objectives

1. Prepare graduates for gainful employment

2. Prepare graduates for professional licensure and/or certification

3. Prepare graduates for career advancement

4. Prepare graduates for leadership roles

List of General Program Outcomes (relative to ASAC-ABET items a-k)

(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and applied sciences

(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data

(c) an ability to formulate or design a system, process or program to meet desired needs

(d) an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams

(e) an ability to identify and solve applied science problems

(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility

(g) an ability to communicate effectively

(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of solutions in a global and societal context

(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning

(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues

(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern scientific and technical tools necessary for professional practice.

 

Enrollment Numbers

Year Enrollment Graduates
2019 70 16
2018 60 21
2017 63 21

The Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers has approved the program since its beginning in 1973 for full credit toward Surveying and Mapping registration. The Florida Surveying and Mapping Society has also provided extensive support to the Program.

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Geomatics Program
304 Reed Lab
PO Box 110565
Gainesville, FL 32611-0565

(352) 392.6010
(352) 392.4957 fax

AREAS OF STUDY

DIGITAL IMAGING & MAPPING

...deals primarily with computer techniques and software to produce maps from images. This is the modern equivalent of the earlier, analog approach of producing maps from images and is closely associated with Photogrammetry. In a broader sense, digital imaging and digital mapping can be considered separately. For example, a digital image can be subjected to various computer processing operations in order to identify features, without a resultant map product. On the other hand, we might look at how other forms of spatial data can be processed to produce a digital map.

By its nature, the study of digital imaging and mapping inevitably involves the use of a computer and associated software, and there are many examples and applications. One might use image processing software in order to detect the spread of disease in a forest. Data from digital sensors can be processed in order to produce a planimetrically correct image “map” called an orthophoto. Flood prone areas can be identified by computer processing of a large number of X,Y,Z data points on the surface of the terrain (collected by a system commonly known as LIDAR). This is just a small sample of the many applications in digital imaging and mapping.

GEODESY

...is the branch of Earth sciences that deals with the division of the Earth. It deals with the geometric and the physical Earth in order to determine its size and shape and its gravity field. Geodesy is closely linked to surveying and mapping. Surveying and mapping professionals use planimetric flat Earth models for planimetric projects which comprise small areas. When the project area gets larger (usually larger than 20 km by 20 km), geodetic implications of a spherical/ellipsoidal Earth model becomes more relevant. The land ordinance of 1785 is a good example of how geodesy affects the surveying and mapping practice. The ordinance reads “… divide territory into townships of 6 miles square by lines running due north-south lines, and others cross at right angles.” The USPLSS was designed to be rectangular. However, due to the complexity of the Earth’s shape as in the convergence of meridians, a rectangular system was un-realizable on the ground. Corrections, using geodesy, were applied to account for the differences.

Geodesy as an Earth science is a corner stone in other Earth sciences like geography, geology, geophysics, oceanography, and glaciology. Geodesy as an applied science and technology lends itself to engineering, informatics, and professional surveying and mapping.

GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION SCIENCE

...is the science involved in developing Geographic Information System technology, applications and algorithms. The scientific contribution to the development of current GIS can easily be recognized starting from basic theories and algorithms developed to handle spatial data problems up to recent utilization of the wireless technology and protocols in mobile GIS applications. Many scientific disciplines contribute to today’s GIS achievements. Scientists in the fields of mathematics, computer science, and cartography contributed significantly into core GIS development. Map projection is an example of a traditional scientific concept implemented in all GIS systems to provide the planimetric representation of features located on the curved earth surface.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS)

...is an information system that can be used to manage, analyze and present geographically-referenced data. GIS is used in many applications such as natural resources management, urban planning, real estate and land records management, emergency planning, and environmental modeling. Geomatics, by definition, is a major stakeholder in GIS data acquisition and error modeling. Three dimensional point coordinates resulting, for example, from LIDAR data can be used in a GIS to delineate stream and river basins and study surface water flow. Data extracted from Remote Sensing sources was traditionally used in GIS to model large phenomena such as forest fires, global warming and drought conditions. GIS also has a major role in modeling transportation networks, handling emergencies, and managing surveying and mapping resources.

Recently, GIS applications have shifted towards web-based services. A web client application can display, query, and analyze GIS data through the internet. Web-based applications such as Google Earth have become very popular and have introduced GIS concepts to the public. Many wireless GIS applications are also being developed for the navigation and vehicle-tracking market.

GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS (GPS)

...is a world-wide satellite-based radio navigation system developed and operated by the US Department of Defense (DOD) NAVSTAR (NAVigation System with Timing And Ranging) program; GPS first satellite launch was in 1978 but the system became fully operational in 1994. GPS was originally conceived as a military system to provide its ground, sea, and air users with all-weather all-time navigation and positioning capabilities. Today, civilian users surpassed military users in numbers and applications to the point that GPS is now an inevitable tool for them. Surveying, mapping, and navigation professionals rely on GPS to provide basic positioning information with the ease of pressing a button. Positioning with GPS is accomplished through trilateration by measuring at least four ranges between the satellites and the receiver on the surface of the Earth. Applications of GPS are enormous including surveying and mapping. One can use GPS in any project requiring positioning, timing, and navigation. Cars, boats, airplanes, tractors, etc are currently equipped with GPS receiving and processing units.

PHOTOGRAMMETRY

...is the science of obtaining reliable measurements from photographs (images) in order to determine characteristics such as: size, shape, and position of photographed objects. The objective of photogrammetry is to invert the process of photography to reconstruct object space features such as buildings, roads, and shore lines. The output of photogrammetry is typically a map, drawing or a 3D model of some real-world object or scene. Many of the maps we use today are created with photogrammetry and photographs taken from aircraft.

LAND TENURE & CADASTRAL SYSTEMS

Land tenure systems define how a community (indigenous group), society or country assigns rights to its land and natural resources. These rules may be defined through formal law or through unwritten custom. Cadastral studies focuses on the cadastral and land registration systems that are used to document and secure land tenure rights. It includes processes such as cadastral (boundary) surveying, principles for resolving boundary ambiguities, and linking these spatial data to legal data describing the nature of the bundle of rights associated with an individual parcel of land. Our research has a significant focus on land tenure and cadastral issues in developing countries, where many landholders do not have formal documentation of their rights and where land administration systems are often overly centralized and bureaucratic.

Since land tenure is relevant to a number of disciplines, we work with faculty and students from several other units on campus. Through this collaboration we are carrying out research on the resilience of social-ecological systems in the SW Amazon and elsewhere. We have also begun to examine the role of land tenure in the governance of valuable natural resources, such as wildlife in Southern Africa.

LIDAR

...is the technology that uses laser pulses to map the surfaces of the earth. In particular, a LIDAR system combines a single narrow-beam laser with a receiver system. The laser produces an optical pulse that is transmitted, reflected off an object, and returned to the receiver. The receiver accurately measures the travel time of the pulse from its start to its return. LIDAR mapping can occur day or night, as long as clear flying conditions are present. On a functional level, LIDAR is typically defined as the fusion of three technologies into a single system capable of acquiring data to produce accurate digital elevation models (DEMs). These technologies are; Lasers, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and Inertial Navigation Systems (INS). Combined, they allow the measuring of the footprint of a laser beam as it hits an object, to a high degree of accuracy. Lasers themselves are very accurate in their ranging capabilities, and can provide distances accurate to a few centimeters. The accuracy limitations of LIDAR systems are due primarily to the GPS and INS. As advancements in commercially available GPS and INS occur, it is becoming possible to obtain a high degree of accuracy using LIDAR from moving platforms such as aircraft.

PROFESSIONAL SURVEYING & MAPPING

...covers a broad range of areas. People often consider land boundary applications to be the sole realm of a professional surveyor and mapper, but the subject encompasses much more. Most – if not all – of the areas in Geomatics fall under the general heading of surveying and mapping, and it is up to a professional to assure that the associated work is done to high standards of quality. Individual states regulate professional practice through statutes and codes, and the exact definitions of surveying and mapping vary from state to state. Nevertheless, the concept of a licensed professional is fundamental. A professional is one who has acquired specialized education and knowledge in order to perform expert services for members of the public. The professional is held in a position of trust by the public and therefore must adhere to a code of ethics and accept liability for his or her work.

A large percentage of the Geomatics graduates from the University of Florida go on into careers leading to professional licensure. After obtaining a baccalaureate degree, rigorous examinations must be passed and appropriate experience and moral character documented in order to acquire a license to be a professional surveyor and mapper.

REMOTE SENSING

...is the science and art of obtaining information about Earth phenomenon without physical contact. This may be done through the photographic process, electro-optical sensors or other instruments. Platforms for these sensors may be on the ground, in the air or in space. In Geomatics, remote sensing is used a support tool for gathering data about a place. It may be used to collect primary data or for updates. There are many things that can only be detected through remote sensing while in other cases, remote sensing is simply a more efficient way of collecting data than doing it from the ground.Sensors used include film-based cameras, digital cameras, multi-spectral scanners, thermal infrared radiometers, radar, sonar, LiDAR and IfSAR.

Applications of remote sensing include: land use/land cover mapping, forest inventories, wildlife habitat mapping, soils mapping, wetland mapping, topographic mapping, deformation analysis, deforestation analysis, urban planning and geological mapping, to name a few examples.

 
 

HISTORY

The Geomatics program was started in 1973 at the behest of the surveying profession in Florida. During the program’s development period, the surveying profession was and still continues to be of immense support. The program retains geographic distinction as the only full-service Geomatics program in the southeast United States, and is viewed as a program of regional, national and international impact. The program has developed name recognition nationwide through its research program, faculty publishing in journals and faculty participation at national meetings. The strong practice-based undergraduate program has been supplemented with sponsored research activity that finds direction and solution to a wide range of issues.

At the time of its inception the program was housed in the Department of Civil Engineering. In 2004, the program and 4 faculty members transferred from the College of Engineering to the (former) School of Forest Resources and Conservation in IFAS. Since that transfer, the program has expanded substantially. We have: (a) established a distance education approach for the BS degree at UF/IFAS Research and Education Centers in Plant City and Ft. Lauderdale; (b) expanded faculty to six full-time professors, one full-time lecturer, two part-time professors, and two part-time adjunct instructors; and (c) increased undergraduate enrollment.

Employers recognize the need to keep up with rapidly changing technology and have enthusiastically employed graduates where available. Historically, students graduating from the program with a Bachelor’s degree receive multiple job offers with attractive starting salaries. Students are placed in a broad range of private sector and government organizations. More than 50 percent of the graduates own or are partners in their own companies and 65 percent manage or supervise a department in surveying and mapping, either in the private or public sector. Three-fourths of the graduates are registered in Florida. Masters or Ph.D. graduates move into academic careers or key leadership positions in government or industry. Achievements of graduates have been the best measure of program effectiveness. UF grads have been routinely successful in passing the registration exam. Their advancements through professional and business ranks have been most notable. Many firms and GIS/ surveying/mapping departments now are headed by UF graduates.

Below is a list of organizations and groups involved in the research, education, or practice of Geomatics and related sciences.

Florida Surveying & Mapping Society

National Society of Professional Surveyors

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

International Federation of Surveyors

International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Institute of Navigation

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

American Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS)

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS)

ASPRS Student Newsletter

Asian Association on Remote Sensing (AARS)

Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Broward County GIS Users Group

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – US Department of Interior

Bicycle Trip Planning in Broward County

Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CAGIS)

Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers

Florida Surveying & Mapping Society (FSMS)

Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS)

Geological Society of America (GSA)

Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA)

Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS)

Geological Society of America (GSA)

IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS)

International Glaciological Society (IGS)

International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISRPS)

Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS)

National Council for Geographic Education

National Geodetic Survey (NGS)

NOAA Coastal Services Center (NOAA CSC)

National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS)

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)

Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RESPoc)

University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)

United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)

United States Geological Survey (USGS) EarthExplorer