Geomatics and Earth Sciences in 2050

It is easy to predict what will happen in a week; the agenda is usually set, for many an event will be canceled and another unforeseen will arise. Predicting what could happen in a month and even a year is usually framed in an investment plan and quarterly expenses vary relatively little, although it is necessary to abandon the level of detail and generalize.

Predicting what could happen in 30 years is simply reckless, although it will be interesting in the overview of all the articles in this edition. From the geomatic side, we could propose aspects in relation to technology, the information storage media or the academic offer; however, in the long term there are unpredictable variables such as cultural change and the influence of the user in the market.

An interesting exercise is to look back on how things were 30 years ago, what they are like now and where industry trends are heading, the role of government and academia; to have an approximation of the role of geomatics in the management of information and operations in human activity in the social, economic and environmental areas.

Retrospective 30 years before

30 years ago it was 1990. Then a user who was daring to technology used an 80286, with a black screen and orange letters behind a filter, Lotus 123, WordPerfect, Dbase, Print Master and DOS as an operating system. By that time, users with more access to CAD / GIS design software felt like kings of the universe; if they had one Intergraph because normal PCs drained patience and ridicule of paper draftsmen.

  • We talk about Microstation 3.5 guidance on Unix, Generic CADD, AutoSketch and AutoCAD that for the first time that year he won the Byte Magazine, when the buttons were simulated icons and the innovative Paperspace that no one understood. If you expected to enter 3D additionally it was necessary to pay ACIS.
  • It would still be a year before the first intuitive interface of ArcView 1.0, so in 1990 the one who knew about GIS did it with ARC / INFO on command line.  
  • As for free software, it would take 2 years for it to appear GRASS 4.1, although all these technologies had the maturity of a journey since 1982.

As for global communication, in 1990 it would formally disappear ARPANET with 100.000 connected computers; until 1991 the term would appear world Wide Web. The remotest thing in education was correspondence courses because Moodle He gave his first pininos until 1999 and the only way to buy something was to go to the store or by phone to the printed catalog number.

The current scenario of Geomatics and Earth Sciences.

Seeing how things were 30 years ago, we are aware that we are living in glorious moments. But not only for the free and proprietary software that we use, but for the entire industry. Geolocation and connectivity have become so intrinsic that a user navigates on a mobile phone, requests a home delivery service, reserves a room on another continent without having to understand how a UTM coordinate works.

An interesting aspect is the fusion of the complete Geo-engineering environment. Disciplines for managing data that grew with separate paths have been forced to converge in the management of the operation, having to be simplified and reluctantly to accept standardization.

This convergence of disciplines around workflows requires professionals to broaden their spectrum of knowledge based on a company that seeks to be efficient. The geographer, geologist, surveyor, engineer, architect, builder and operator need to model their professional knowledge in the same digital environment, which makes both the subsoil and the surface context, the design of generic volumes and the detail of the infrastructures important. , the code behind an ETL as the clean interface for a managerial user. As a consequence, the academy is going through a critical stage to maintain an offer that meets the needs of industry innovation and market evolution.

There are explosion cycles in innovation. Right now we are about to see one start.

30 years future perspective.

In 30 years our best glories could look primitive. Even reading this article will cause the feeling of a hybrid between an episode of the Jetsons and a Hunger Games movie. Although we know that trends such as 5G connectivity and the fourth industrial revolution are just around the corner, it is not so simple to determine the changes that culture will undergo in student-teacher, citizen-government, employee-company, consumer relationships. producer.

If we refer to trends that are currently driving industry, government and academia, these are my particular perspectives.

The adoption of standards will be a norm of responsibility.  Not only for technology purposes or information formats, but on the operation of the market. It will be very normal to standardize compliance times for the provision of services, environmental guarantees, construction guarantees. The geomatics industry should include more the human factor, as it will play an important role in connecting the real world with digital twins, beyond modeling representation, contracts for the interaction of people, companies and government.  

By 2050 blockchain will have been the primitive http protocol, not as a solution but as the alert to a bigger problem, where standardization should be a norm of responsibility. 

Usability will be decided by the end customer.  The user of a technology, product or service will have a role not only of consultation but also of decision; with which aspects such as urban design and environmental management will be opportunities for disciplines associated with land. This will imply instrumentalizing overly specialized knowledge from disciplines such as geography, geology, topography or engineering to solutions where the end user makes decisions. The profession must turn its knowledge to tools, so that a citizen can decide where he wants his house, choose an architectural model, adjust parameters to his liking and immediately receive plans, licenses, offers and guarantees. From the decision-making side, this type of solution will work both on an asset scale, such as a network of connected infrastructures, a regional or national system; With geolocatable objects, mathematical models and artificial intelligence.

Connectivity and interaction with real time will be intrinsic. In 30 years, geographic information such as images, digital models, environmental variables and model

Predictive s will be very accurate and accessible. With this, the sensors for receiving information from satellites and devices at a lower height will move to more daily uses once they overcome the complications of privacy and security.

All education will be virtual and the complex will be depreciated. Many areas of human interaction will be virtual, inevitably education. This will lead to the simplification of knowledge that is unnecessary for practical life and the standardization of aspects that today are barriers such as borders, scale, language, distance, access. Although borders will continue to be of great importance, in the virtual environment they will die as a consequence of the market and the fall of the cult of the absurd. Geomatics surely could not die, but it will evolve from being a professional elite discipline to a close knowledge of the new challenges of humanity.


For now, to feel satisfied to have been part of the "30 years before", witnessed the current moment and the emotion of entering a new cycle where only the ideas that facilitate decision-making and present a better end-user experience will survive. .

If you want to see the trends about this digital moment, click here!

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