GeoEduc3D – Locating the Future of Geomatics Professionals

Thomas Michael Power

The use of applications such as Google Maps, Google Earth, and some of the applications for iPhone-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is commonplace nowadays. Nevertheless, the science of geomatics, a combination of geography and informatics, is still widely unknown, especially among young adults. For future developments, new minds are desperately needed. Dr Sylvie Daniel and Dr Thomas Michael Power at Laval University and Rob Harrap at Queen’s University in Canada, together with a dozen other colleagues, have set up GeoEduc3D, an international project whose primary goal is to raise awareness of geomatics among high school students. It involves the development of compelling computer games based on GIS technologies.

by Angelika Eckert

Practical applications of geomatics like navigation systems are rapidly becoming part of daily life, facilitating activities such as finding buildings, restaurants, or taxis in an unknown area. The increasing importance of geographic information (GI) is recognised across the board, and naturally there are lots of new applications waiting to come into existence. Areas of application include education, engineering, government, health and human services, map production, natural resources, homeland defence, transportation and utilities, and many, many others.

But who will produce these applications? The striking shortage of suitably qualified second-generation professionals already hampers the growth of the geographic-information sector. Currently, developers come from the ranks of traditional land surveyors and geo-information engineers, so given the demand trends, raising teenagers’ awareness about geomatics is a crucial issue.

But how to attract young peoples’ attention to geomatics?

Daniel, Harrap, Power and colleagues have recently launched the GeoEduc3D Project. The effort involves game development and targets teenagers who may one day be among the field’s second generation of specialists. At present, however, most young people are not even aware of the opportunities the GIS market offers them.

© Laval University

Daniel and Harrap are convinced that there is a need to point out the omnipresence of geomatics in daily activities to teenagers. Their approach links educational and leisure activities and employs the media and tools with which they surround themselves. This means offering youngsters highly interactive, mobility-enhanced, augmented reality-based, educational games and topping them off with geomatic technology.

Power believes that, by means of educational gaming (Serious Games) and mobile geomatic technology, teenage students and their teachers will be better able to explore topical issues such as climate change and sustainable development. Specific themes could be the rise in sea level and its impact on coastal regions or constructing virtual cities in virtual worlds, like the Virtual Berlin in Twinity.

Project members encompass universities from Canada, the UK, France, and the Netherlands, the developers Ubisoft, Creaform, and Poly9, as well as numerous graduate students. The teams are designing and implementing a set of learning-oriented tools that foster enriched and augmented player experiences – stealth learning (learning while playing) – with a focus on games situated in real geographic locations.

Currently, the project partners are developing prototypes, one of which is called “Energy Wars”. It requires that students compete in transforming a campus into an energy-saving place in line with environmental goals. Around March 2010, the pilot will start with small-scale tests in two Canadian schools with three teachers and teams of between eight and twelve students.

During the three-year term of the project, GeoEduc3D researchers and their partners seek to achieve knowledge advancement in and of geomatics, with an emphasis on mobile geomatics. Michael Power is convinced that “The research will certainly establish new methods for helping students construct their own virtual tools, even entire worlds, and create innovative educational activities in the future.”

For further information, please see

At OEB 2009, Dr Thomas Michael Power will present “Online and in the Game! Serious Gaming & Geomatics” as part of the session “Innovative and Creative Forms of Teaching”, which will take place on Friday, December 4th from 11:45 – 13:30.

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