The UCL Geomatics Section is involved in the science, engineering and modelling of measurements and data relating to Earth and its environment.
Ranging from space-based measurements of the Earth (and other planets) using radio waves, down to micron level observations using lasers and optical techniques, the Geomatics Section forms part of the larger Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering. The department is noted for the width of its remit by comparison with “traditional engineering” departments elsewhere, incorporating leading research into such diverse elements as transport economics, public health, infrastructure, design, water resources management and earthquake engineering. The Geomatics staff both contribute to and benefit from this diverse research environment.
- Dr Jan Boehm
Jan Boehm has a background in Computer Science, for which he holds a Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, USA, and a Diploma degree from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He holds a doctoral degree from the department of Aerospace Engineering and Geodesy at the University of Stuttgart. Since 2010 has been a lecturer in Photogrammetry and 3D Imaging at University College London. He actively participates in the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), where he regularly serves on organising and programme committees and as a reviewer for related journals. He is co-chair of the ISPRS working group on Image-based and range-based 3D modelling. He serves on the VDI panel for optical metrology, where he works on the VDI/VDE 2634 guidelines.
He has published more than 50 papers on the topics of close-range photogrammetry, three-dimensional point cloud processing and robotics. His current research projects include creating building information models (BIM) from point clouds, detailed façade modelling from terrestrial and mobile laser scanning and developing a human measurement system from low cost natural user interface sensors.
Jan contributes to the teaching on Mapping Science; Terrestrial Data Acquisition; Airborne Data Acquisition and Image Understanding.
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- Prof Tao Cheng
Tao Cheng is a Professor in GeoInformatics and Director of SpaceTimeLab at University College London. She has studied and lectured in China, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, France and the UK. She has broad knowledge and experience in Geographic Information Sciences (GISc), from data acquisition to information processing, management and analysis, with applications in environmental monitoring, natural resource management, health, transport and crime studies. She has over 140 publications and is a past recipient of the U. V. Helava Award for the best paper in the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. She is also a visiting professor at Wuhan University and at the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Science.
She has been the Departmental Equal Opportunity Liaison Officer (DEOLO) since 2006, and led the Department's successful bid for the Athena SWAN Silver Award in 2009, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice for women working in science, engineering and technology (SET) in higher education and research.
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- Dr Claire Ellul
Having previously worked as a GIS consultant, my research interests now include spatial databases and approaches for handling large quantities of spatial data. Additionally, I am currently conducting research into the integration of 3D GIS and spatial databases, examining issues relating to topology and performance. I am also involved in a number of Spatial Data Infrastructures projects, seeking to identify the most suitable mechanisms to share data amongst academic staff in an interdisciplinary, multi-national context. As part of this, I am investigating approaches to building usable systems to facilitate data discovery and evaluation, as well as to ensure metadata capture and maintenance processes are integrated into data manipulation tasks.
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- Dr Paul Groves
Paul Groves specialises in robust positioning and navigation techniques (see the research section below) for challenging environments. These are a key enabler for many different engineering problems. He is interested in all navigation and positioning technologies, including global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), inertial sensors and environmental feature matching. Particular focuses include exploring novel positioning techniques, developing reliable urban positioning and integrating complex sensor combinations. He is also author of the ~800-page book Principles of GNSS, Inertial, and Multisensor Integrated Navigation Systems (Artech House, 2008 and 2013).
Paul joined UCL's Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory in 2009 after 12 years at DERA and QinetiQ. He is an inventor of the GNSS shadow-matching technique and has contributed to innovations in terrain-referenced navigation, visual navigation, positioning using AM radio broadcasts, heterogeneous feature-matching, and detection of GNSS NLOS reception and multipath interference. He has developed algorithms for all forms of INS/GNSS integration, multisensor integration, transfer alignment, quasi-stationary alignment, zero-velocity updates, pedestrian dead reckoning, GNSS C/N0 measurement, and inertial navigation. He also has extensive experience in GNSS and IMU software simulation. Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation, an active member of the Institute of Navigation and a Chartered Physicist. He is an Associate Editor of Navigation: Journal of the ION and of The Journal of Navigation. He has helped to organize a number of conferences and seminars and acted as a peer reviewer for numerous journals.
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- Dr James Haworth
James Haworth is a lecturer in spatio-temporal analytics at SpaceTimeLab in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Before coming to UCL, James studied Geography at the University of Leeds, where he focussed on geodemographics and retail geography. He obtained his MSc in Geographic Information Science from UCL in 2009, before embarking on his PhD study as part of the EPSRC funded STANDARD project (Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Network Data and Route Dynamics, EPSRC: EP/G023212/1). After completing his PhD, James worked as a teaching fellow at CEGE and as research associate on the Crime, Policing and Citizenship (CPC) project (EPSRC: EP/J004197/1), before taking up his lectureship. James' main interests lie in the analysis, modelling and forecasting of spatio-temporal data using machine learning methods.
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- Dr Jon Iliffe
Jonathan Iliffe's expertise lies in the area of geodesy, and specifically those issues that relate to coordinate reference systems – national or local, on land or at sea. Current or very recent research projects include determining the height corrector surfaces for use in the British Isles (transforming GPS data to the local height system in each country), the UKHO-sponsored VORF project (transforming GPS data to the different coordinate reference systems used on land and at sea) and the development of the SnakeGrid system (which gives near-unity scale factor along very large linear engineering projects such as railways, highways and pipelines). He acts as a consultant on international land and maritime boundary delimitations, and advises governments, survey and engineering companies, and railway organisations on the geodetic aspects of large infrastructure projects. He is the author with Roger Lott of Datums and Map Projections, a standard textbook for students and professionals around the world. In 2008 Jonathan Iliffe was awarded the Richard Carter Prize (Geospatial Engineer 2008) by the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, for his work on SnakeGrid and projects such as OSGM02 and VORF. Jonathan is the programme director for the Geospatial Sciences (Hydrographic Surveying) MSc, and contributes to the teaching on Data Analysis; Mapping Science; Principles and Practice of Surveying; Hydrographic Applications and Ocean and Coastal Zone Management.
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- Liz Jones
Liz's research interests are in landscape archaeology, geovisualisation and applications of geomatics in the understanding of past environments, particularly in Egypt. She is keen to promote interdisciplinarity between Geomatic Engineering and other fields, namely the heritage and forensic sectors. Liz has carried out AHRC-funded research into the development of a research-oriented GIS for the site of Saqqara, and conducted a study analysing archaeological and historical evidence for flood events and flood risk within the inner Thames estuary during the Holocene Period. She is actively engaged in fieldwork on a number of projects: as GIS officer and surveyor for the Kouphovouno Project, and as surveyor and archaeological supervisor for The Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project, The EES Survey of Memphis and The Gurob Harem Palace Project.
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- Prof Stuart Robson
Stuart Robson is known for his research in the field of the traceable on-line dynamic 3D co-ordination and monitoring of engineering, medical and fine art structures using photogrammetry, vision metrology and colour laser scanning. Stuart Robson founded and now leads the cross-faculty UCL 3D scanning initiative, stimulating pan-London and international research projects and providing a strategic vision of the significance of 3D imaging technologies to heritage, medical, engineering and creative sectors. He has a track record in engineering measurement working with NASA, Airbus, UK Atomic Energy Authority (JET) and NPL, and in medical physics, where he collaborates to optimise optical tomography and EEG sensing for clinical studies.
Stuart's digital heritage projects are centred on 3D colour artefact and environment scanning with UCL Museums and Collections, Institute of Archaeology, The Slade, and The Bartlett founded on corporate agreements with Arius3D, Faro and Leica Geosystems along with funding from AHRC, JISC and EPSRC. Examples of recent projects include:
- E-Curator, which draws on UCL's expertise both in curatorship and in e-Science. It takes advantage of the presence at UCL of world class collections across a range of disciplines to capture, share and explore very large high resolution 3D datasets about museum artefacts in a secure computing environment.
- Solomon Islands Canoe: a 3D digital documentation of a Melanesian Southwest Pacific war canoe situated in the British Museum. In collaboration with the Bergen Pacific Study Group the 3D laser scanning is paired with anthropological research which aims to deliver a holistic virtual reconstruction, multimedia interactive delivery, and a 3D printed colour replica of a detail of the boat for digital repatriation to the source community
- Gabo sculpture conservation: accurate recording of a series of transparent sculptures by Hume Gabo for the Tate Gallery Sculpture Conservation Unit, carried out with Plowman Craven Ltd. Digital records of the rapidly degrading sculptures have been produced and exhibited so that accurate replicas could be made for future generations.
Stuart Robson has successfully supervised over 30 PhD and MSc students, and has contributed to over 130 publications including several key photogrammetric textbooks.
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- Prof Marek Zeibart
Space Geodesy, Marek's specialism, is the science and engineering of using satellites in orbit around planets to measure dynamic characteristics, such as the gravity field, sea level and ice cap variations, as well as plate tectonics. In 2007, GPS World named him as one of the 50 Leaders to Watch for his contributions to the global navigation and positioning industry. He holds a PhD in Satellite Geodesy and Astrodynamics, and is a member of the NASA/CNES Ocean Surface Topography Science Working Team. He is a contributor to news items and documentaries on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 4 (Today programme), BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service. He has carried out numerous consultancies and research contracts, including for the UK Hydrographic Office, the European Space Agency, Tritech Rail, NASA, US Air Force, QinetiQ, and Ordnance Survey. The UCL Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory currently has 15 members: three academics, three PDRAs and nine PhD students.
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- Dr Santosh Bhattarai
Santosh Bhattarai is a Lecturer in Space Geodesy or Navigation with interests in the area of non-conservative force modelling (for precise orbit determination) in Astrodynamics and in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), especially in aspects of GNSS relating to precise timing. He works in the Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory (SGNL), which is a research group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Prior to this, he was a PhD student and research associate in the same group. His PhD thesis, "Satellite clock time offset prediction in GNSS", deals with methods that account for mis-synchronisation amongst in-orbit GNSS satellite clocks. He holds a BSc in Mathematics and Physics from the University of York, UK.
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- Daniel Scott
Daniel is an Honorary Lecturer in Reality Capture & Geospatial Science within the UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Before arriving at UCL he spent 14 years in the construction industry, where he specialised in the development and deployment of large scale instrumentation systems. He has been responsible for the introduction of a number of new techniques and technologies into the field, and worked on projects such as CTRL, the Jubilee Line Extension, Crossrail and the Thameslink programme. His research encompasses the use of photogrammetric measurement within construction, as well as development of optomechanical sensors, AR/VR data visualisations, real time machine control and UAS-based measurement systems.
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- Dr Pippa Cowles
Pippa is a Teaching Fellow in Geomatics and Outreach Coordinator within the UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering. Prior to this, she was a STEM outreach officer at Newcastle University where she was also a teaching assistant, PhD and Undergraduate student. Her PhD thesis, “Sidereal filtering for multi-GNSS Precise Point Positioning and deformation monitoring” looks at applying sidereal filters to both the GPS and GLONASS satellite constellations for applications in earthquake early warning systems. She holds a BSc in Surveying and Mapping Science from Newcastle University, UK..
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- Dr Aldo Lipani
Aldo is a Lecturer (Asst. Prof.) in Machine Learning. Aldo is a member of the SpaceTimeLab led by Prof. Tao Cheng and of the Web Intelligence Group led by Prof. Emine Yilmaz. Previously, Aldo was a postdoc also at UCL. Aldo received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the TU Wien (Austria) with the dissertation titled: “On Biases in Information Retrieval Models and Evaluation” under the supervision of Prof. Allan Hanbury and Dr. Mihai Lupu. He has furthered his studies at the: National Institute of Standard and Technologies (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Microsoft Research Cambridge, University of Glasgow, University of Amsterdam, and National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Tokyo.
Visit Dr Lipani's UCL IRIS profile for further information.
- Dr Cassandra Nanlal
Cassandra is a Lecturer in Marine Geospatial Science in the department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL. She completed her PhD at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019 under the supervision of Dr. Keith Miller and Dr. Dexter Davis. Cassandra's research focussed on establishing vertical separation models for land and marine use within Caribbean Territories. Cassandra then worked at the primary governmental marine research institute of Trinidad and Tobago, the Institute of Marine Affairs from 2020 to 2022 where she engaged in work and research involving tidal influences on coastal wetlands, coastline change detection, monitoring coastal erosion, sea level change and advocating for coastal and marine conservation.
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- Dr Romain Neuville
Romain is a Lecturer in Reality Capture for Geospatial Science in the department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL.
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Members of UCL Geomatics Section contribute to and help run the following Master's programmes:
Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering programmes
- Geospatial Sciences MSc
- Geospatial Sciences (Building Information Modelling & Surveying) MSc
- Geospatial Sciences (GIS and Computing) MSc
- Geospatial Sciences (Hydrographic Surveying) MSc
- Find out more on our Geospatial Sciences MSc routes programme page
- Spatio-Temporal Analytics and Big Data Mining MSc (programme page)
Department of Geography programmes
The Geomatics section is involved in the science, engineering and modelling of measurements and data relating to Earth and its environment. The Geomatics staff are informally organised into three groups according to research theme: Geodesy and Navigation; Photogrammetry, 3D Imaging and Metrology; and GIS. Click on the groups below to see their research topics and current projects.
- Geodesy and Navigation
The research work in geodesy and navigation consists of finding new solutions to challenging positioning problems, as well overcoming geodetic challenges that result from the ubiquity of positioning systems. Key research themes include advanced orbit and clock modelling, novel precise positioning applications, robust multisensor positioning and navigation, and coordinate systems such as VORF and SnakeGrid.
- SnakeGrid: The development of low-distortion 2D coordinate systems for engineering projects such as railways that extend over hundreds of kilometres of the Earth’s surface. Visit SnakeGrid's website.
- Vertical Offshore Reference Frames (VORF): The development of high resolution transformation surface models to provide the link between GPS/GNSS positioning and offshore reference levels such as Chart Datum and Mean Sea Level. Visit VORF's research group page.
- Robust Positioning and Navigation: A series of projects focused on novel techniques for improving the performance of GNSS and multi-sensor navigation and positioning systems under challenging reception conditions, such as in dense urban areas and under jamming. See further information below.
- Photogrammetry, 3D Imaging and Metrology
The photogrammetry and imaging group focuses on the acquisition and analysis of accurate and reliable measurements using techniques such as imagery and laser scanning, and applies these to natural and man-made objects across a range of application areas.
- 3D Imaging: We test sensor accuracy, develop new calibration strategies and develop new applications for 3D cameras. Visit Photogrammetry and 3d Imaging's website.
- BIM: Building Information Modelling has been gaining momentum recently in the UK construction industry, especially with impending government legislation that encourages the use of this process on their contracts.
- Geographic Information Science
The work of the GIS group ranges from social applications of geospatial technology – as exemplified by the Extreme Citizen Science project – to research into technical aspects such as database infrastructure and mathematical algorithms for data mining.
- Extreme Citizen Science: ExCiteS: UCL's interdisciplinary research group on Extreme Citizen Science
- SpaceTimeLab: The SpaceTimeLab promotes and enhances research on spatio-temporal complexity in society, economics and engineering.
- Adaptable Suburbs: A study of the relationship between networks of human activity and the changing form of urban and suburban centres through time
- STANDARD: UCL together with TfL work on a 3-year EPSRC-funded research project to investigate spatio-temporal characteristics of data from transport networks.
- CPC: Working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, UCL is beginning a 3.5-year EPSRC-funded research project that will address Crime, Policing and Citizen engagement (CPC) at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
- SECOA (Solutions for Environmental Contrasts in Coastal Areas) will consider the effects of human mobility on urban settlements’ growth and restructuring in fragile environments, such as coastal areas.
- Robust Positioning and Navigation
Robust Positioning and Navigation is a program of research led by Dr Paul Groves. It is one of three research programs within UCL Engineering’s Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory (SGNL). Find out more on the Robust Positioning and Navigation subpage.
To view all of the Geomatics Section's most recent research outputs, browse our complete publications list.