August 08, 2005
Defining Geospatial Industry Workforce Needs
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! What will be the needs of the geospatial industry for the foreseeable future? What kinds of workers are going to be required - not only that, but what kind of training do they need to do specific jobs? And what are those jobs within the industry? These are questions that need to be answered while defining the geospatial industry and its requirements. Read about GITA's challenge to do just that in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Defining Geospatial Industry Workforce Needs

By Susan Smith

Bob Samborski
President Bush's High Growth Job Training Initiative, a collaborative effort to help team people with the jobs that are needed, has targeted 12 specific areas of high growth and impact in the U.S. for such markets as advanced construction methods, health care, nanotech, biotech - and geospatial technology. The U.S. Department of Labor has granted a $700,000
grant to
GITA to assume responsibility for defining and communicating geospatial industry workforce needs.

This has been a challenge for the geospatial industry and is definitely not new to GITA. A panel discussion at this year's GITA conference on the topic,
GIS: Is it a Profession, Niche or Tool? promoted lively exchanges, but did not reach a consensus on definition. “The government has identified geospatial as one of the major growth areas, which is good for the industry at large,” noted GITA executive director, Bob Samborski. “The problem is that it's the only one of those areas that lacks definition. When you start talking geospatial, it's very vague.”

The project is to be completed within a year's time.

The deliverables for this project include:
1) Industry definition, as aforementioned, involving the consensus of the industry.

2) A public communication outreach program. People are using GPS for autos, tracking systems and outdoor sports, but the average person is not quite ready to identify this as geospatial technology. The task is to bring an awareness of the industry to students, to let them know that there are good jobs available in this industry.

3) Geospatial Industry Workforce Information System or “GeeWhiz” for short. This is a web portal that would assemble the whole supply chain of geospatial workers, even down to K-12 to determine what students going into high school need to know in terms of educational background for college, what courses and specialty degrees would they need to enter the geospatial workforce at certain places.

4) The fourth would be a specified geographic region with the GeeWhiz as a resource. State and local community college system, the local university system, the local utilities, local governments, all the local agencies and organizations that use the technology would come together and make the thing work. A clearinghouse would be formed with GeeWhiz as a resource in addition to the public outreach work to be an actual onsite implementation. The Department of Labor would like to see this happen in parts of the country where there is industry and the ability for jobs to support people coming out of the proper geospatial educational background.

5) Sustainability - the project needs a life after the grant runs out. If there's not more federal money available then hopefully the industry will step forward and figure out a way keep the work going and replicate some of the onsite implementations, and to start building a workforce.
The last element of this project is the significant role the Association of American Geographers (
AAG) will play in the project. GITA represents the practitioners, or “employers” of geospatial professionals using the technology who need employees to help their businesses grow. The training required from the university or college level is the domain of the AAG, a 100 year old non profit educational association that maintains superb contacts with all the educational institutions that are involved.

Among those institutions is the University of Southern Mississippi, which has developed a geospatial competency model-what competencies you might need to be able to take a particular geospatial job - these are all categorized in certain ways. The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania also offers some valuable resources.

Ultimately, the Association and the universities will integrate with GITA to help create an initial forum comprised of industry thought leaders who will frame out some basic high level definitions and then translate that into a industry consensus building process, integrate that with the competency models and the work that's been done to define what kind of education students are going to need. “We know what the jobs are, and we will be at a serious disadvantage if we don't have the people to do the work that needs to be done even if the jobs exist.,” concluded Samborski. “The solution is just a matter of getting there within budget -- within the 12 months,” which,
if history is any example, will be no easy task.


Trimble announced that its subsidiary, Trimble Mobile Solutions, Inc. (TMS), has signed a distribution agreement with Nextel Communications Inc. to offer the TMS TrimWeb(TM) mobile resource management (MRM) solution through the Nextel(R) sales channel, which will run over Nextel's nationwide digital network. The TrimWeb in-vehicle solution utilizes Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and cellular communications to efficiently route fleets and decrease driver down time.

Definiens AG announced the opening of a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Definiens Inc., which closely follows the company's global expansion plan. This momentous growth is also due to an increased demand for Definiens' products and solutions, as well as part of an effort to continue the high level of services and support that Definiens' customers have come to expect and appreciate. Additionally, the U.S. and European offices have been undergoing an increase in staff in order to support the growing demand for the new products and solutions.

ViryaNet, provider of integrated mobile and Web-based software applications for workforce management and field service delivery, and Miner & Miner, a Telvent company, announced that they intend to integrate the ViryaNet Service Hub for Utilities and Miner & Miner's Responder Outage Management System (OMS) products to provide integrated crew management for outage restorations and repairs in the field. The two companies intend to reveal the first stage of the integrated products at the ESRI Users Conference in San Diego, CA, July 24 through 31, 2005.

Information Builders and ESRI announced a formal partnership to more tightly integrate ESRI's geographic mapping software with Information Builders' business intelligence reporting software, which will simplify reporting solutions for organizations and government agencies. The combination will empower users to view additional layers of critical business information, delivering enhanced decision-making capabilities to users.

InfoNet version 3.0, the latest release of Wallingford Software's InfoNet solution strengthens its integration with the leading GIS systems to enable users to leverage and add value to their existing investments in asset data. Further enhancements in the new version include extended multi-user access, and a greater support for surveys and operational maintenance.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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