Friday, September 16, 2016

Research Topics in Surveying and Geo-Informatcs

Hello there,

I often get such question like: How to get project or research topics related to these fields -  land surveying, Surveying and Geo-Informatics, Geomatics Engineering, Geo-spatial Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing, Geodesy etc.

Today, I decided to put up a blog post in an attempt to answer this question often asked by final year students looking for project/research topics related to the fields mentioned above for their final year research project.

I will expose all I know in GIS student project ideas, GIS case studies, GIS projects, and GIS uses to you.

Before I list out some areas to obtain research or project topics, let me clarify on the difference between a research work and a project work.

According to Wikipedia:

~ Research: Research comprises "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." Research careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something. : the activity of getting information about a subject.

The strict definition of scientific research is performing a methodical study in order to prove a hypothesis or answer a specific question. Finding a definitive answer is the central goal of any experimental process. Research must be systematic and follow a series of steps and a rigid standard protocol.

~ Project: A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. In contemporary business and science, a project is an individual or collaborative enterprise, possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim. One can also define a project as a set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.

Different between Project and Research

A research is different from a project. A project has a predefined or known deliverable, while a research outcome (positive or negative) often springs up at the end of the investigations. Graduate students don’t do project, rather they do research.

Project is where we know the path to achieve the goal. And research project is something where we only know the problem and over a period of time we will apply new methods to generate solutions. Project has gurantee and can be completed withing the time frame. But research project one cannot guarantee that solution will be found in the given time frame.

Prof. L. M. Ojigi - research contribution

Below is an excellent research contribution as extract from "Understanding Research Methods and Writing in Geomatics" by Prof. L. M. Ojigi - Department of Geomatics, Faculty of Environmental Design, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria.

What is Geomatics?

Geomatics (Surveying and Geo-Informatics) could be described as the art, science and engineering of earth measurement and its spatial information representation and modelling (numerical, graphical and mathematical), and management.

The tools for the measurement and recording of the shapes and sizes of natural and man-made features on the earth surface and sub-surface, and their spatial representation are both terrestrially and celestially based; hence the quantities and complex values (linear and non-linear) derived from such measurements are largely governed by the physical dynamics in the earth’s atmosphere, topography and marine environments.

A project is where you apply the theories (what you've learned) to practice whereas a research goes a little beyond that, you apply these theories but will be coming up with new theories or concepts of your own. You will have to experiment new things through out your research. You cannot be certain of the result till you are done with your research.

You can fine more information including difference between thesis, research paper and project on these two link for quora: Link 1 and Link 2

Why do we do research in Geomatics?

The relationships between the complex earth phenomena being measured and presented to multidisciplinary users, and the need to balance the measured values and the expected values places a stronger demand on geomatics research to be more versatile and broad based.

This new expectation forms the key driver for divergence research focus in geomatics. Good to acknowledge that, the past of surveying research has dealt with surveying and mapping tools and techniques; but the present and the future, while consolidating the gained grounds, criss-crosses into atmospheric science, computing and information technology to meet the integrated solutions required in modern times.

Today, the concern of the surveyor has shifted from just the provision of controls and general map datasets to the provision and effective modelling and management of robust Earth Observation, GNSS and general space geodetic system datasets that are free of atmospheric and tropospheric effects and errors.

This means that, the research methods must change or wear wider-angle lens for a synoptic coverage of the research needs and questions.

Geomatics is a rapidly developing discipline that focuses on information that has a location. The location is the main factor used to integrate a very wide range of data for viewing and analysis.

The key subjects of geomatics include geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sensing, mapping, land and geographic information systems, spatial computing, computer vision and all types of surveying (hydrography and marine surveys, mining and special surveys, electronic, construction/engineering surveying, topographic and cadastral surveying).

Geomatics is the science that knits all these spatial information disciplines together, and geomatics is developing the science and creating new uses for the technology developed.

Here are some Project/Research Areas in Geomatics/GIS/RS:-

~ Gravimetric survey and analysis
~ Satellite remote sensing (optical and microwave) 
~ GNSS and environmental geodesy
~ Close range and videometric photogrammetry, 
~ Computing and software development; 
~ Electronic/digital mapping and LiDAR/Laser Systems, 
~ Subsidence and Disaster Monitoring
~ Water/Natural Resources and Agriculture 
~ Land and geographic information systems, 
~ Geographic information science,
~ Space geodetic systems (GNSS, VLBI, DORIS, SLR, etc) 
~ Physical and geometric geodesy
~ Astronomy and astrodynamics,
~ Image processing and spatial data analysis, 
~ Heritage recording and mapping;
~ Network adjustment and numerical methods/processes, 
~ Deformation measurements and analysis,
~ Civil and structural engineering,
~ Earth atmosphere and planetary science, 
~ Space Technology, etc.

The above list is not in anyway an exhaustive project/research areas. You can find more project/research areas online and one excellent portal I do recommend is the GIS Lounge

You will also find this list very useful in framing your final year project topic. This is a list of 1000 GIS Applications & Uses – How GIS Is Changing the World. Read the list, it will surely end the struggle to find good GIS projects for yourself or your students.

I hope this article helps someone out there.
Thank you for reading.


  1. Thanks so much,Umar.

  2. From RECTAS and reading from people that have mentored me. First, I am happy and secondly, this has really answered most of the questions that brought me here.

    I have gotten solutions through you in different ways. Thank You Sir for doing what you do. Owan J.N

  3. Thank You Sir for doing what you do.