Geospatial technology could help St. Louis area students map their futures

student with a virtual globe
Photo credit metamorworks/iStock / Getty Images Plus

It's a major sector of our St. Louis economy, which is why experts say geospatial literacy needs to be part of back-to-school curriculum.

The geospatial industry has an estimated $5 billion impact on the regional economy.

Tara Mott, NGA Account Manager for ESRI, a geospatial software company based in St. Louis, is hoping more schools incorporate geospatial thinking and spatial literacy into existing curriculum.

"Most of us have smart phones, and the third most-used app is the map function. How does that map get created? What is the science of the where that goes into that map? And that's what GIS is really all about," said Mott

ESRI provides free Geographic Information System (GIS) software to K-12 schools across the country and helps educators incorporate that learning into existing curriculum.

Mott was a guest on Total Information AM, in what will be a continuing focus on Geospatial on KMOX. She also serves as Co-Chair of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation's St. Louis Area Working Group.

Mott says the variety of career fields that employ geospatial technology is broad. Some examples include public health, security, package delivery, and disaster preparedness.

"If you think of flooding, people are using historical data, terrain models, and elevation data to predict where storm surges might be occurring so they can actually then stage their assets differently," said Mott/

Mott tells KMOX that St. Louis universities are making huge strikes incorporating geospatial curriculum, but there are not enough young people in the pipeline.

"You'll hear NGA speak to this as a national security problem, because the lack of students that are engaging in STEM-related fields, especially around fields like the science of the Earth, or geodesy, falls well below our foreign competition," said Mott, "If that trend continues, that could have other implications in the future from a national security perspective."

Want to be marketable in the geospatial sector? Mott recommends taking geographic information system courses, but also IT, STEM, and programming coursework.

If you're interested in learning more about the industry, you can register to attend Geo-Resolution 2023, co-sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Saint Louis University (SLU).

@2023 Audacy (KMOX). All rights reserved.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: metamorworks/iStock / Getty Images Plus