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The Top 7 Canadian Geospatial Companies to Watch for 2019

Part of the GoGeomatics mission is to showcase the best of the Canadian geospatial sector in Canada and around the world.  To that end I’ve put together my list (in no particular order) of the top 7 Canadian location technology companies to watch. I’ve focused on innovative and nimble companies that the community may not have heard of. Some of these companies are relatively new and some have been around for years.   I keep my eye on them as they inhabit niches in our sector that give me a good idea where leaps in technology are taking us as well as job trends.

Watch these companies for job opportunities and as sector technology leaders now and in the future. I’ve worked with a few of these companies and for the ones I have not yet, I hope to do so in the future.  Read on to learn what sets them apart from other companies, and how they are delivering best in class technology in location technology, GIS software, data, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence(AI),and Earth observation on the world stage.

Avenza

Avenza Systems Inc. develops software products that allow GIS professionals and cartographers to use high-end graphics programs for map-making. Avenza’s products deliver powerful mapping software that facilitates design, publication, and spatial imaging. Their MAPublisher suite is a set of plug-in tools that leverage the graphics of Adobe Illustrator, and their Geographic Imager software enhances Adobe Photoshop for working with spatial imagery. Avenza aims to revolutionize technology to empower people to create and work with high-quality maps.

Avenza stays in tune with new technologies and shifts in the GIS and map-making industry. Eager to fill gaps and answer demand from the market, Avenza recognized the demand for offline mobile maps and made the Avenza Maps platform for professionals, consumers, and map publishers. The Avenza Map Store lets cartographers across the world sell their maps to customers through smartphones and tablets, making maps accessible at the touch of a button.

Ecopia

Emerging from the University of Waterloo, Ecopia.ai is an artificial intelligence company specializing in extracting insight from big geospatial data. They use intelligent systems to leverage advancements in machine learning to convert high-res imagery of Earth onto HD Vector Maps, and provide insights for observing and monitoring business processes, including asset management, risk assessment, and disaster response.

In 2018 Ecopia formed a partnership with Digital Globe and created the first and only complete HD Vector Map of every building in the United States. The HD Vector Map is to be updated each year from the most recent satellite imagery available. Ecopia’s goal for the future is to achieve global coverage with their HD Vector Maps and create the most accurate, up-to-date digital representation of Earth.

Sparkgeo

Sparkgeo is a GIS consultancy based in Prince George, BC. Sparkgeo is immersed in geospatial infrastructure, web mapping, and Big Data. They pride themselves on building next-generation products, tackling hard problems and massive amounts of data, usually on the web. They operate internationally in the resources and high tech sectors, providing services like geospatial analytics (measuring financial exposure to weather events, changing risk profiles, and augmented insurance data), consulting (communication, automation of manual processes, needs assessment, buy-build decisions), and software development (custom application design, 2 and 3D visualization, and mobile and responsive web development).

Working with other technology companies through a platform-agnostic approach allows them to act as expert partners without being bound to bureaucracy or tradition. It also means that Sparkgeo’s employees have a high degree of autonomy, and can work remotely from anywhere in the world; this system owes a lot to CEO Will Cadell’s feelings about knowledge workers and remote-first culture.

SkyWatch

SkyWatch’s mission is to make satellite data accessible to the world. Seeking to break down barriers between geospatial professionals and satellite imagery, they used their experience building Nasa-award winning software to develop the SkyWatch EarthCache, which will help to provide a singular point to discover and access the world’s remote sensing data sets. SkyWatch is committed to helping communities monitor the progress of crops, predict markets, track ships, measure global warming, and create applications. They are on their way to becoming the leading provider of Earth observation data.

Though getting involved in the space industry was never necessarily the intention for SkyWatch’s founders, the platform that was capable of making complex datasets generated by satellites more accessible was the founding technology of their company. SkyWatch was incorporated in part because of their approach to democratizing satellite data, and their victory in an international hackathon run by NASA. After participating in the Google for Entrepreneurs program they left for the prestigious TechStars New York incubator, and then eventually settled back in Waterloo; the team is currently located in the Data Hub, a data-focused incubator that is part of Communitech.

SensorUp

  • Headquarters: Calgary, Alberta
  • Founded in 2011

SensorUp is an award-winning Internet of Things (IoT) company and a leader in IoT interoperability. As a geospatial leader SensorUp bridges the divide between IoT systems and GIS, and designs solutions specifically for location-aware connected assets—both mobile and stationary. SensorUp creates industrial grade IoT solutions that leverage their SensorThings Platform for customers, empowers their clients to build new applications and harness analytics, and share data through cloud storage. They are also a contributor to the leading standard in geospatial web services and data through the Open Geospatial Consortium.

SensorUp is ready for the Smart City revolution. Their SensorThings Platform is designed to help first responders get updates on emergency personnel and lower response time, and reduce downtime and maintenance trips within operations. In general, it is an ideal platform for smart city planners to gather information from parking sites, traffic cameras, and air quality sensors.

FarmersEdge

  • Headquarters: Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Other Offices: Ames, Iowa; Brazil; Australia
  • Founded in 2005
  • Careers at Farmers Edge

Farmers Edge is advancing modern agriculture through the use of field-centric data collection and advanced machine learning. Much of their success is underpinned through the solid use of use of geomatics technology. Dedicated to helping farmers run better businesses and grow more crops through the use of data-driven agronomic technology, Farmers Edge is giving farmers data that will help them make better decisions while saving time and money. In a world facing a rapidly growing global population, Farmers Edge wants to help farmers run efficient operations while producing more food. They have received multiple awards from Profit for being one of Canada’s fastest growing companies.

Farmers Edge recently released a ground-breaking digital tool that automatically scans satellite imagery and alerts growers to changes in their fields. The Health Change Maps and Notifications function is designed to accelerate the speed of decision-making when crop issues emerge, and pick up potential problems, including disease, pests, inclement weather, drainage issues, and equipment malfunctions. Farmers no longer have to spend time reviewing imagery, as the technology detects and delivers the insights needed.

exactEarth

exactEarth is a leading provider of global maritime vessel data, responsible for pioneering a new method of maritime surveillance called satellite AIS. Founded in 2009 in Cambridge, ON, exactEarth is a leading organization in the field of global AIS vessel tracking, leveraging microsatellite technology to collect comprehensive ship monitoring data and deliver high-quality information to customers. exactEarth is the perfect example of a small/medium-sized company contributing to Canadian leadership in satellite technology.

The Government of Canada recently selected exactEarth to receive $7.2 million to supplement the development and expansion of exactView RT, a real-time Satellite AIS service. Made up of more than 60 maritime satellite payloads hosted on the Iridium NEXT Constellation, the exactView RT will help enhance maritime safety and environmental impact. The system will rapidly deliver real-time data and information services to large international markets.

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