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A Crystal Ball for Geospatial

The geospatial market is expected to grow at an estimated rate of 13.6% through 2020, according to a recent Geospatial Media and Communications report. That growth is a noted increase from the 11.5% growth between 2013-2017. What, and who, will drive the growth over the next five years? Have drones seen their peak in the geospatial technology market? What other geospatial hardware and software technologies can we expect to see? And, what is the career outlook for civil engineers and surveyors?

In this Civil Engineering Surveyor “A crystal ball for geospatial” article, Trimble’s Chris Trevillian details his vision on products and trends that will continue to revolutionize the geospatial industry over the next five years. Here are a few highlights:

Sensor Fusion

Fusion of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), inertial measurement unit (IMU), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), camera, barometer, and other sensors will play a leading role in the future of geospatial technology as industry professionals embrace integrated solutions utilizing smaller and less costly solid-state sensors. Hardware trends include sensor miniaturization technological advances -- such as those being driven by the autonomous vehicle market -- that will make their way into more geospatial products.

Building Information Modeling

Building Information Modeling (BIM) software continues to modernize construction projects and civil engineers will further embrace this technology to solve complex design challenges and make efficient real-time decisions in the field. Trevillian also expects that in the office, surveyors and civil engineers will also use geospatial technologies to extract and apply meaningful data from “big picture” data.

Augmented Reality

Leading companies that want to remain cutting-edge will utilize augmented reality (AR) tools to deliver customer solutions. Further, the “as-a-service” business model will continue to evolve, enabling easier access to professional grade measurement technologies so more people can enhance and streamline workflows.


Asked about existing technology that surveyors and civil engineers could better utilize, Trevillian pointed to 3D laser scanning technology, especially in the U.S., in part due to slower adoption of automated features and the challenges of handling massive data sets.


Trevillian anticipates increased use of drones as the regulatory burden lessens over the next several years. This will allow companies to more efficiently adopt drone technology, and that opens up a myriad of possibilities. He estimates we are “just scratching the surface” of the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and automation technology potential.

Total Stations

Even with the advent of multi-station technology like the SX10 Scanning Total Station, Trevillian predicts we will still see further progress with the total station.

Market Dynamics

We will also see customers driving geospatial technology demands, such as point cloud or CAD file formats for data delivery. Many customers will have made-to-order demands specific to their business challenges. Manufacturers will respond accordingly to the market demands.


Trevillian advises the geospatial surveyor career industry remains a wide-open space ripe with potential for those bold explorers who are ready to dive into this job market.

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