Canadian LiDAR Data

Since starting our Open Data Resources list in 2010, we have received thousands of requests to help people find various Canadian data to use with their geospatial projects. And in that time have started an unofficial list of places where LiDAR data that is available for the public to use.

Today we are making our list available to our readers in the hopes that more people can make use if this data and that the geospatial community might help add more sources to it.

Satellite Image Analysis and Terrain Modelling

Satellite Image Analysis and Terrain Modelling is a practical manual for natural resource management, disaster risk and development planning using free geospatial data and software. Find out how to download this manual and the free GIs software used in it …

GRASS GIS 7.4.0 released

GRASS GIS 7.4.0 provides more than 480 stability fixes and improvements compared to the previous stable version 7.2. An overview of the new features in the 7.4 release series is available at New Features in GRASS GIS 7.4.

Nova Scotia Open Data Portal

Recently Nova Scotia joined the growing number of Canadian Provinces and Municipalities that offer open data, when it officially launched the Nova Scotia open data portal providing public access to more than 135 different data sets

Open Data is about drawing on the collective knowledge and innovation of Nova Scotians to help grow our economy and improve the lives of those around us

Geomatics Yukon GIS Data and Yukon Lands Viewer

Geomatics Yukon GIS Data and Yukon Lands Viewer

Geomatics Yukon GIS Data and Yukon Lands Viewer

Geomatics Yukon is the online portal location where you will find GIS open data and imagery for the Yukon Territory. It hosts and distributes a wide range of web mapping applications and spatial data for several Yukon Government departments and partners that allow people to search their growing collection of available data sets.

Although most data from Geomatics Yukon is freely distributed and available to the public including Imagery; some of the satellite imagery that they have is licensed only to the Yukon Government so is only available to project partners and First Nations governments on request, though the website and requires an Imagery Use Agreement to be completed first.

Geomatics Yukon offers an online web mapping  through the Energy, Mines and Resources Yukon Lands Viewer. It is built upon an Esri server with Geocortex by Latitude Geographics providing powerful well-rounded mapping tools and innovative features for a wide range of experienced and not so experienced end users.

Yukon Lands Viewer showing Satellite Imagery ofDawson City

The Yukon Lands Viewer like many other Esri based web served applications provides many useful tools and applications from searching data sets to customizing your own map. They provide the ability to incorporate your own data from shape files or CSV data as well as the ability to draw and edit features  and then print or export your results. A pretty detailed instruction manual can help those that run into troubles with the map viewer.

Geomatics Yukon aims to provide a central source for distributing Yukon government spatial data and imagery and although some what limited it is off to a good start in becoming an opendata portal.

Yukon GIS Data Web links:

 


 

[originally published Sept 22, 2013]

Grass GIS Software

Grass GIS Software

Grass GIS Software


GRASS GIS
, commonly referred to as Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, is an open source GIS software that is commonly used for geospatial data analysis, data management, image processing, cartography, spatial modeling, and data visualization. It was originally was developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and is a founding member of the Open Source Geospatial (OSGeo) Foundation.

Grass GIS SoftwareGRASS GIS contains over 350 modules to render maps and images on monitor and paper; manipulate raster, and vector data including vector networks; process multispectral image data; and create, manage, and store spatial data.

It offers both an intuitive graphical user interface as well as command line syntax for ease of operations. It can interface with printers, plotters, digitizers, and databases to develop new data as well as manage existing data.

The latest  stable version available is version 7.  GRASS GIS v7 provides support for large data , has an improved topological vector engine and improved vector network analysis tools. Click here to download it for yourself and give it a try.

 

Bathymetry of Lake Ontario

Bathymetry of Lake Ontario

Bathymetry of Lake Ontario

Bathymetry is used to measure water depths to help model physical underwater terrain found beneath large bodies of water. Similar to the same way that LiDAR models are represent 3D features (or relief) of land terrain, bathymetric maps illustrate the terrain or land that is located under large bodies of water. Color ramps created from depth contours or isobaths help make the variations in relief easier to see.

“High-resolution digital bathymetry makes possible meaningful quantitative estimates of available habitats for fish and other living organisms. In other lakes these estimates have been used to formulate regulations intended to prevent overfishing. Conversely, Great Lakes bathymetry is much in demand by anglers as an aid in locating the most promising areas for fishing.”

The Bathymetry of Lake Ontario was the third poster map released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) depicting highly detailed bathymetry data ( at 2 meter contour interval) of the Great Lakes. Click here for more details on the Bathymetry of Lake Ontario data set and use the links below to download the pre-made maps and GIS data:

The other Great Lakes Bathymetry data can also be downloaded here

 

 

Download Canadian LandSat Images

Download Canadian LandSat

Download Canadian LandSat Data

Download Canadian LandSat - electromagnetic spectrumThe Landsat program is the longest running series of acquisition imagery based satellites, originally launched in 1972 as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, it was later renamed to Landsat. Recently a new Landsat satellite was launched (Landsat 8), to help obtain further valuable imagery to be used in geomatics, agriculture, forestry, research, education, and many other industries.

Landsat satellites provide us with images created from reflected and emitted energy in a variety of different wavelengths from the electromagnetic spectrum.

The electromagnetic spectrum (shown in the image to the right) contains includes all radiated energy from gamma rays to radio waves, however the human eye is sensitive and can only view the visible portion of the spectrum (reflected light portion, ranging from violet to red).

Download Canadian LandSat - Landsat 8Unlike earlier versions, Landsats 7 and 8 provide images from the visible spectrum as well as near-infrared, mid-infrared, and thermal-infrared bands

Landsat data for Canadian regions are available for free download. Below you will find links to many Canadian LandSat images.

Download Canadian LandSat 7 Images

How to Get Ontario Topographic Data

Looking for Ontario Topographic Data?

Recently, someone contacted me looking for information on where they could find Ontario topographic data for the Thunder Bay area, so I assumed that they must have already checked the Canadian data page and suggested that they check out the Ontario Basic Mapping website (OBM).

The Ontario Basic Mapping (OBM) site by the Geography Network is a great online resource with simplistic interactive interface that provides users tools to create customized map views and the ability to download various topographic base mapping data for the entire Province of Ontario. The site contains GIS layers created from 1:10,000 base maps from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that people can download including layers for transportation, water, municipal, elevation, parks and conservation areas. The portal created with ArcIMS makes it pretty easy to use and a convenient way to obtain mapping data in a variety of formats for virtually any area of interest in Ontario.

Ontario Topographic Data - Ontario Base Mapping Download Site

However, that person replied back to me a few days latter telling me that the site was only an online web map viewer and they needed actual data to use in a GIS, and wanted to know if I had any other sources of mapping information for Northern Ontario.

Now, I thought that the e-mail was a little strange since I have used data from the Ontario Basic Mapping web site before while planning various aerial surveys in Northern Ontario, so I decided to go check out the web site to see if the downloading data feature that I had used had been removed. Turns out the site is still the same, it can be used as an online web map viewer to customize and print maps but the downloading option still exists providing the ability to download the map layers in the viewer to use with your own GIS software packages like ArcMap or MapInfo.

It seems like a pretty simple mapping application to me but maybe it is not as obvious as some people need it to be, so I decided to share some of the notes on downloading topographic base data from the OBM site that I provided to them, in case others have trouble figuring how to download the data as well (And summarized in the video at the bottom).

The OBM site is an ArcIMS site with a simplistic look and an interactive interface that provides users with tools to create customized map views and the ability to download the various topographic base mapping data in the map window. If you are not interested in downloading GIS layers but still want to make some maps then like most typical map viewers, they also provide printing options where you can create either paper or digital PDF maps.

Ontario Topographic Data - Ontario Base Mapping - Thunder BayWhen you first open the viewer you are zoomed out to the full extent of the province with mapping tools represented by icons on your left and accessible data layers on the right hand side. Using the AOI icon, you first need to define an area of interest that will zoom the map window into your specific area, populating the map window with more detailed GIS layers and features.

From the list on the right hand side, you then select the visible layers that you wish to download. Next using the FME icon from the tools on the left hand side, a window will open up prompting you to log-in, create a free user name and password (or enter your existing log-in) and then a download options window will appear.

You then need to click a check box to agree with the license terms and click the Download Data button to continue. Finally another window with instructions for acquiring the data in a variety of formats (e.g. SHP, DWG, DXF etc.) and in either Latitude / Longitude or Lambert Conformal Conic coordinate system. Then there will be one final window with a message telling to check your e-mail for a message.

You will then get a machine-generated e-mail from the Geography Network with a custom download link with the Ontario topographic data layers that you specified for your area of interest that you defined. And that is all there is to it, so if you are looking for Ontario topographic GIS data layers to download or  just want want to create online maps then the Ontario Basic Mapping (OBM) site could help you out.

If you know of other Ontario data sources that I have not yet added to the Canadian data  collections then let me know about it and I will add it to the site.

QGIS – Open Source GIS Software

One of the more popular desktop geographic information system (GIS) software packages available these days happens to be a free open source software, known as QGIS.

QGISEarlier known as Quantum GIS, QGIS is a cross platform open source GIS software package used for creating new and editing existing maps. It can be installed and used with many different operating systems including Windows, UNIX and Linux etc and supports a wide format of data formats such as raster and vector layers.

Quantum GIS started out as public licensed project in 2002 by Gary Sherman, whom wanted to use GIS tools with Linux to view and analyze maps, and also had a keen interest in programming.  The software is written in C++ programming language with various integrated plug-ins are developed using Python and C++. The first fully functional version of the software was released in January 2009 and is continuously being updated from time to time.

QGIS – Open Source GIS Software

Since QGIS is open source, community driven project, the full software code with a bug tracker is maintained from the QGIS website, that is managed and operated by a steering committee that includes people from all around the world. Anyone interested in contributing to the development of the software can get information from the development section in the official website. Getting into the functional specifications of QGIS, the application lets the user to browse and view maps and edit them. Users can also create plug-ins using either Python or C++. Also, the application lets printing maps using print composer.

QGIS & OpenStreetMap free user guidesQGIS is an open source software which means all the code that is used for the development of the application is available free of cost for download. This allows any user to download the code and modify the same based on their interests and needs. You also need not pay for using the application and hence no licensing issues come into picture.

There are certain drawbacks of using open source software. The GUI of such applications sometimes lack user friendly features but QGIS overcomes this drawback by having highly user friendly GUI. Even though there are many other open source GIS applications online, QGIS has evolved to be the number one open source desktop GIS application. The reasons for the same are discussed below along with a short user guide on how to install the application and use it to the maximum benefit.

Features of QGIS and why it is ranked on top of Open Source Application:

There are various features of QGIS which makes it a popular desktop GIS application, available freely online. Some of the important features include seamless viewing of spatial data using advanced symbology. Apart from the desktop application, there is also QGIS browser which lets user access data in a faster time.

The application supports various formats such as vector, database and raster formats. One major advantage of QGIS is that it allows users to import open street map files that are also gaining popularity every day. Apart from viewing and exploring spatial data, the application allows users to edit the data by working between nodes and polygons. Users can also convert one file to another without complexity. QGIS also allow users to download and upload maps using GPS unit.

Apart from using the application for viewing maps, it also helps analyze spatial elements such as polygon centroids and matrix intersections. If you are also experts in creating maps or editing them for your personal needs, you can publish them in the internet.

With OpenStreetMaps (OSM) grabbing the attention of all start ups, essential for any GIS application to provide support for importing and exporting OSM. QGIS considers importing OSM as its core functionality and the entire process is very simple and faster. Users can easily import OSM data from the server and download to local database.

The application also supports integration with various open source packages, thereby extending the functionality. QGIS also provides an easy way of importing tiles from OSM using plug-ins. The major reason for most people opting QGIS is the availability of many easy reference guides available online for novice as well as advanced users.

Installing and using QGIS:

QGIS is a free software application, thus anyone can download and install the application on their desktop computer. They are also free to edit any data present in the application and can use both desktop and browser version for rendering data. Installing the application is very simple on a Windows operating system as you need to download and install only the installer (Mac users need to download a couple of other packages before installing the installer). These can be downloaded from the QGIS site.

Once installed, the full application is available for analyzing spatial data. There are various help tools available online in various forum sites where you can get all possible answers. But if you still find it difficult to find answers, post your questions in the various mailing lists where many experienced users give their answers. It is almost clear that most users downloading QGIS would want to create some sort of maps customized to their business needs. Hence, users will need to keep their thematic data ready which can then be visualized using the application.

This is where OSM comes into picture. Since OSM is open source, all data information can be downloaded for free. This is in contrast with Google maps, Apple maps, or ArcGIS.com since they are not open source and the information cannot legally be used for customization. Hence download OSM data and use it for your own business needs.

So now that we have given you some basic understanding on what QGIS is and how to install it, now is your chance to go try it. Since it is open source, you do not have any restrictions in downloading and using it during your free time. As and when you use the application, you should be able learn some new techniques that can be used for better mapping experience. Happy mapping!