April 13th, 2016, Published in Articles: PositionIT
by Siyabonga Mdubeki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
The Geomatics profession is a multidisciplinary sector of special competency required for the establishment and sustenance of geospatially enabled societies, planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of development programmes. The thrust of positioning and geospatial information management becomes undoubtedly the nucleus of Geomatics practice and its continuous development. The principles of the Geomatics profession as articulated by section 2 of the Geomatics Profession Act (GPA) seek to define the aspects of practice and most importantly give marching orders not only to council but the profession at large to address, among others, the question of transformation. Often at times the word transformation is perceived in a narrow context of a shift along racial lines or from historically privileged to previously disadvantaged. In this very context the main aim of transformation is to ensure demographic representation of society within any specific sector of the economy. It must ensure greater participation of the demographic spread of South Africans both in race and gender terms.
Like any other sectors of the economy that was, in the past, dominated particularly by white males, the Geomatics profession needed a serious change in demographic representation. Since the dawn of our constitutional democracy there has been a remarkable but small change on racial and gender distribution particularly within the PLATO register. Quite noticeable also is a risk of an aging profession due to a generation gap, which poses a serious challenge for skills retention. It is a challenge that we need to collectively accept and address by finding ways and means to retain the knowledge and the professional intellectual property to the profession rather than with the individuals or a particular class. Knowledge management, sharing and transfer are fundamental in institutionalising the relevant knowledge base within the profession.
Apart from preservation of knowledge and hosting of expertise, the profession still has to adapt to general changes that are caused not only by the socio-political dispensation but other factors such as the evolving technologies as well. A profession that seeks to stay relevant at all times is bound to confront these developments and move with the times in optimally embracing new ways for better application of knowledge and expertise. This is the time where the profession must seriously reflect and ensure that its members effectively practice within the broader scope of the Geomatics principles as outlined in the act, and acquire the requisite skills relevant in this broader context.
The general outlook of the profession should inspire the upcoming younger generations to find identity and feel welcomed to join and take part in this good profession. Structural changes and institutional reforms are necessary in laying a foundation that strengthens equity, inclusivity, representation, dynamism and greater participation. The transformed approach to management and governance of this profession must promote good standards, ethics and proficiency. The Geomatics Profession Act (GPA) makes provisions for the realisation of a transformed and sustainable Geomatics profession that finds strength in the multidisciplinary combination of practice aspects in line with its principles. Effective implementation of the GPA depends on the will of council and the broader community of Geomatics, and relevant stakeholders to embrace the change and becoming frontiers of progressive development. The growth path of the profession must be defined on the basis of equity and prosperity in a manner that fosters inclusivity and broad participation in the entire geospatial information management and land development value chains.
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