Geomatics is fairly new, the term was apparently coined by B. Dubuisson in 1969. It includes the tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, COMPASS), photogrammetry, and related forms of earth mapping. Originally used in Canada, because it is similar in French and English, the term geomatics has been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and many other international authorities, although some (especially in the United States) have shown a preference for the term geospatial technology.
A good definition can be found on the University of Calgary's web page titled "What is Geomatic Engineering?":
"Geomatics engineering is a modern discipline, which integrates acquisition, modelling, analysis, and management of spatially referenced data, i.e. data identified according to their locations. Based on the scientific framework of geodesy, it uses terrestrial, marine, airborne, and satellite-based sensors to acquire spatial and other data. It includes the process of transforming spatially referenced data from different sources into common information systems with well-defined accuracy characteristics."
Similarly the new related field hydrogeomatics covers the geomatics area associated with surveying work carried out on, above or below the surface of the sea or other areas of water. The older term of hydrographics was too specific to the preparation of marine charts and failed to include the broader concept of positioning or measurements in all marine environments.
A geospatial network is a network of collaborating resources for sharing and coordinating geographical data, and data tied to geographical references. One example of such a network is the GIS Consortium's effort to provide "ready global access to geographic information" in a framework named the Open Geospatial Network.
A number of university departments which were once titled surveying, survey engineering or topographic science have re-titled themselves as geomatics or geomatic engineering. An example of this is the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London.
The rapid progress, and increased visibility, of geomatics since 1990s has been made possible by advances in computer technology, computer science, and software engineering, as well as airborne and space observation remote sensing technologies.
The field of geomatics may include:
* wireless location
* remote sensing
* airborne and terrestrial laser scanning
* geographic information systems
* Global Positioning System
* digital terrain modelling
Applications areas include:
* the environment
* land management and reform
* urban planning
* subdivision planning
* infrastructure management
* natural resource monitoring and development;
* coastal zone management and mapping
* archaeological excavation and survey for GIS applications
* disaster informatics for disaster risk reduction and response
* Air Navigation Services
* Biomedical Imaging
* Archaeological field survey
* Geomatics and Surveying International Forum
* Geomatics at the Open Directory Project
* Geomatic Technologies
* Society of Geomatics for Land Surveyors
* Teleparc centre: the geomatics centre of the Gers Chamber of Commerce and Industry
* International Association of Geodesy
* International Federation of Surveyors
* International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
* The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
* The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors