Mapping & Geomatics Technicians

Position Overview/Description

Mapping & Geomatics Technicians use spatial data to produce maps, process and analyze images and identify geospatial features.  Using a variety of different software platforms (GIS, CAD, GPS, etc.) they produce and transform spatial data into a more easily understandable format and help others to interpret its meaning.  Much of the work done by Mapping & Geomatics Technicians takes place in an office setting and involves the use of a computer to manipulate and visualize data. Depending on the position, they may also take part in field work, client meetings and/or primary data collection using surveys, aerial images, remote sensing, and/or global satellite systems, etc.. Professionals in this field work in a variety of government, private and non-profit settings.  They typically have educational background in Geography (or a related area) and experience with a variety of mapping, remote sensing and data analysis-related software platforms.

Cory Cheung

Mapping Technician

Terra Remote Sensing

Education, Skills & Experience

As part of his undergraduate degree in Geography, Cory developed a solid understanding of GIS and remote sensing, learned how to identify geographical features and landforms and had the opportunity to work with several different GIS and remote sensing platforms. He gained real-world experience by participating in three, 8-month Co-op placements which contributed to his ability to communicate effectively and provided opportunities to gain additional technical skills, trouble shoot problems, and build experience in the field.  After working in the field for a few years, Cory took additional training in GIS to further refine his remote sensing skills. 

A Day in the Life  

It's November 2021.  The Fraser Valley has just been hit by what climatologists are calling an "Atmospheric River", a series of concentrated storm events which have led to torrential downpours in parts of southwestern BC and northern Washington.  The storms have caused widespread flooding, wiping out roads, submerging farmland and causing massive destruction of property within the affected area.   In the aftermath of this event, the BC Government has asked Terra Remote Sensing, the company for which Cory Cheung works as a Geomatics Mapping Technician, to conduct aerial surveys of impacted towns and infrastructure.

Back in the office, Cory is working to organize aerial surveying of a flooded section of Highway 1 stretching between Hope and Spences Bridge (140km).  Over the next several days, he will compile the resulting photos into a list and then process the colours and tie points in order to create a seamless 3D visualization of the area.  With this visualization, Cory is able to provide an extremely accurate picture of the impacted landscape and infrastructure along this area of highway.  This visualization will then be provided to the provincial government in order to guide its response and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the flooding in this area.

A Typical Day

During a typical day, Cory spends much of his time in the office. His role is quite technical in nature and involves working with and manipulating a variety of remote sensing data.  In order to use the data, it first needs to be processed, so Cory works on calibrating the data and correcting distortion in the images.  He will then use the data to create digital maps, models and 3D visualizations, which can be used to plan and implement practical solutions to environmental problems like rebuilding infrastructure in the wake of a natural disaster, managing forest resources and utility assets, and monitoring the health of agricultural crops, etc.

Throughout the day, Cory interacts with clients and colleagues in other areas (such as field crews and project managers) to obtain, process, and deliver the data, while troubleshooting any issues along the way.  He uses his technical communication and interpersonal skills to help others understand and intrepret the information within his visualizations and uses his organizational and multitasking skills to keep projects running smoothly and on time.

Are you interested in becoming a Geomatics/Mapping Technician?

While there are many paths to becoming a geomatics/mapping technician, Cory's journey began during his undergraduate degree, where he participated in a co-op placement as an Agricultural Land Use Inventory & Survey Technician (GIS) for the BC Ministry of Agriculture. Following his graduation from SFU with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography (co-op designation), Cory:

  • was hired as a Technical Specialist with UrtheCast/Deimos-Imaging (a space-based remote sensing company which provides multispectral imagery data to support precision agriculture, damage assessments, and recoveries)
  • took part in an 8-month Environmental Assessment Internship with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (1 of 20 interns selected to go overseas by the Memorial University of Newfoundland's Marine Institute to represent Global Affairs Canada in their youth internship program)
  • went back to school (BCIT) to obtain his GIS Advanced Diploma
  • found a position as a Geomatics Mapping Technician in the BC office of Terra Remote Sensing, an international company that provides geospatial data solutions