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Remote Sensing Specialist


Mapping, Analysis & Design

Effective Date: February, 2006

USG 10

35 hr/wk

Reports to: Information, Systems and Technology Manager

General Accountability

The Remote Sensing Specialist (RSS) facilitates and supports the use of specialized Remote Sensing (RS) and Spatial Image Analysis (SIA) tools and techniques for teaching and research within the faculty. The RSS is accountable to the Technical Services Manager for identifying, deploying and maintaining RS/SIA teaching and research infrastructure, while supporting RS/SIA instructors. This support ranges from design, development, implementation and maintenance of lab assignments and is available for RS/SIA related courses.


The RSS applies knowledge in the field of Remote Sensing to identify, acquire, deploy and manage the infrastructure that facilitates the delivery of RS/SIA services to Environmental Studies (ES). This is accomplished by liaising with individuals within the faculty, through outreach across campus to potential students and researchers interested in the discipline and by providing assistance via the helpdesk.

Nature and Scope

The Faculty provides instruction in RS/SIA for undergraduate and graduate programs, faculty members and graduate students conducting research using RS/SIA related technologies. The RSS is responsible for interacting with geomatics related personnel, including support staff, students and faculty. The RSS, as the faculty’s specialist, will work with the geomatics steering committee to help in the development and advancement of geomatics curricula. In addition, they will provide input as technology advances and improves.


The RSS needs to keep informed and stay current with the rapidly evolving RS/SIA software and related technology. This involves securing appropriate software and hardware resources in the faculty’s RS/SIA applications for teaching and research. With the training and resources acknowledged, maintaining communication with vendors and RS/SIA clients can be a challenge. Development and updating of instructional materials such as lab assignments and tutorials, for geomatics instruction is continuous and constantly evolving. This is time intensive but necessary in order to deploy the most recent technology. The student interactions outside the faculty consist of outreach activities to potential students by participating in Engineering Science Quest (ESQ), Shad Valley Program, Waterloo Unlimited, Skills Canada and other related organizations.  Professional interactions include committee representation on Computing, Communication and Operations Committee (CCOC), Faculty Computing User Support Group (FACCUS), the Ontario Association of Remote Sensing (OARS) and Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG).

Statistical Data

RS/SIA infrastructure and software are funded through various sources. The RSS coordinates financial aspects of RS/SIA initiatives in consultation with the Client Services Manager. These include license fees, hardware, software and acquisition of data with total revenues that average $15,000+ per year.


The MAD unit comprises nine full-time support staff, one staff member on permanent secondment from IST (60%), one staff member on permanent secondment from CTE (60%), part-time student assistants and from time to time, co-op students. Staff members (with the exception of the IST and CTE members) report either to the Technical Services Manager or to the Client Services Manager who in turn report directly to the Director.


The activities of the RSS affect a constituency that includes:

Number of computers supported: 300+

Number of undergraduate users: 1700+

Number of graduate users: 200+

Number of faculty, staff and visiting scholars: 150+

The RSS accomplishes their mandate through direct contact with individuals within the spatial informatics field, as well as the wider population through consulting activities at the helpdesk and through specific IT support structures for staff and faculty. The RSS works on the helpdesk to provide assistance to clients in ES which include all undergraduates, graduates, administration, and faculty and visiting scholars.

Specific Accountabilities

The RSS duties include (but are not limited to):

The RSS is expected to assist instructors in the visioning and planning of RS/SIA courses, as well as designing, developing and implementing new technologies and infrastructure for teaching and research.

The RSS is accountable for making decisions regarding the configuration, operation and maintenance of image processing services that include software and hardware.

The RSS is required to expand upon the ES satellite imagery inventory and update the spatial data catalogue, with guidance from the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata standard.

The RSS is accountable for developing and updating technical support documentation for remote sensing software and maintaining web pages associated with the technology.

The RSS is required to problem solve a variety of computing related issues within the faculty and more specifically within the geomatics related courses. 

Advise MAD in the acquisition, deployment and management of RS/SIA resources and infrastructure.

Assist with the acquisition, storage and analysis of geospatial data and information resources (e.g., scanned maps, geospatial data layers, aerial photography, satellite remote sensing, and geographically referenced social science data).

Maintain and expand a library of digital geospatial datasets as part of the spatial data catalogue.

Ensure the FGDC metadata standards are applied accurately when creating digital image archives.

Configure, operate and maintain RS/SIA software and hardware supported by MAD, provide advice to researchers in the fields of RS and SIA.

Provide regularly scheduled weekly computer consulting at the Environmental Studies computing helpdesk.

Develop and maintain the Remote Sensing specific web pages.

Liaise between remote sensing software suppliers and ES, campus wide with related programs and internally between departments with similar RS needs.

Develop and update technical support documentation for remote sensing software used in ES and remote sensing software in general, both as printed documentation and as web-based documentation that can be accessible campus-wide.

Facilitate and review faculty grant/contract project use of MAD facilities and services for remote sensing in consultation with the Client Services Manager where appropriate.

Assist with end of term rebuild of lab workstations, servers, re-deployment and general maintenance of labs.

Provide support on all platforms for both servers and clients including Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, and Linux that make use of RS/SIA tools and applications.

Collaborate with the Cartographer, GIS Specialist, Technical Services Manager and the Map Library to develop data resources for use in RS/SIA instruction and research.

In collaboration with instructors, develop labs for RS courses within the faculty, and provide data sets, methodologies, and updated image analysis techniques/procedures.

Train TA’s that support RS/SIA courses.

Deliver an orientation lecture on RS resources to courses in RS/SIA.

The RSS performs other functions as required to support teaching, learning and research initiatives in the Faculty, or as identified by the Technical Services Manager

Working Conditions

The RSS normally works in an office environment at a computing workstation. For a portion of the week, which vary from term to term, the RSS works at the computing helpdesk. This is a demanding and somewhat hectic environment, requiring multitasking and meeting the computing needs of clients. Computing concerns (both software and hardware related) may require a visit to the offices of some clients. Additional time is spent in computing labs, assisting students with computing related issues involving both software assistance (for example, creating posters or formatting a document) and hardware assistance (for example, replacement of a monitor or entire workstation). In relation to the RS/SIA lab assignments, the RSS will need to provide assistance in the lab as necessary.  Periodically, the job can become quite stressful, especially when line-ups occur at the helpdesk. Therefore, it is important to provide accurate and timely support to those users.