What is Geo-informatics?
Geo-informatics might be referred to as the academic discipline or career of working with geo-data for better understanding and interpretation of human interaction with the earth’s surface. In a broader term, it is a number of different technologies, approaches, processes, and methods used to interpret issues relating to the earth’s surface for collaborative decision-making.
Geo-informatics deals with the structure and character of spatial information, and how it is captured, classified and qualified. It also concerns its storage, processing, portrayal, and dissemination, including the infrastructure necessary to secure optimal use of this information.
Some call it an art, some science, and others a technology. But all agree on its dealing with the acquisition, storage, processing, production, presentation, and dissemination of geoinformation.
Geo-information could mean “Geographic Information’ or “Geo-spatial Information”. It combines different types of data sets, from GIS, remote sensing, non-remote sensing, and more, to generate results in the form of maps and other forms of reports which allow human activities on the earth’s surface to be better interpreted and managed.
Geomatics is a similarly used term that encompasses geoinformatics, but geomatics focuses more on surveying. Geo-informatics has been grouped broadly under technical geography, along with fields like geographic information science, and GISc.
Branches of Geoinformatics
The seven branches of geoinformatics are outlined below:
- Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Mapping is a complex undertaking that combines scientific techniques with aesthetics to effectively communicate the spatial information that is mapped.
- Geodesy is the science of accurately measuring and understanding Earth’s three fundamental properties: shape, orientation in space, and gravity field. Geodesy also involves the observation of all three features to track how they change over time and determine the causes of those changes.
- Photogrammetry is another discipline related to geoinformatics, which makes measurements from photographs to map out the exact positions of surface points. They work similarly to standard maps, but the details are much more realistic, especially in the modern world where photographic technology has significantly advanced. In addition to mapping, photogrammetry can be applied to other fields including architecture, engineering, and quality control.
- Remote Sensing is the near-certain acquisition of information about a phenomenon or a physical object without making any real contact. Remote sensing has been applied in many areas such as radar used by ships and airplanes to detect enemies or obstacles. Ultrasound also uses remote sensing, radiometers, and photometers. Similarly, aerial photography, which is used to make topographical maps, also employs remote sensing. Hyperspectral imaging, sonar, and seismograms are some of the many applications that use the same method to effectively collect data.
- Spatial Analysis is a technique used to study objects or structures based on topological, geometric, and geographic properties. The technique is useful when studying the galaxy, as the modelling breaks things down to smaller scales that make analysis more manageable and practical.
- Web Mapping is the use of maps created and delivered by geographic information systems (GIS) in World Wide Web format. There are several types of web maps that include analytical web maps and offer GIS analysis. There are also animated and real-time maps that show situations almost in real-time. Additionally, the collaborative web map uses data created by users who want to improve or add more information about areas that have not been extensively mapped.
- Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) use satellites to provide accurate positioning of anything on the surface of the planet. Satellites have been in use for a long time, and their applications have evolved to include military defense and telecommunications.
Both Geomatics and Geoinformatics include and rely heavily upon the theory and practical implications of Geodesy. Geography and Earth Science increasingly rely on digital spatial data acquired from remotely sensed images analyzed by geographical information systems (GIS), photo-interpretation of aerial photographs, and Web mining. Geoinformatics combines geospatial analysis and modeling, the development of geospatial databases, information systems design, human-computer interaction, and both wired and wireless networking technologies. Geoinformatics uses geocomputation and geovisualization for analyzing geoinformation.