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OpenStreetMap – the Power of the People

What is OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMapWith two technology giants Apple and Google fighting out each other for claiming the top position in mapping technologies, a silent challenger has rapidly approached the top position without too much hassle.

OpenStreetMap launched 10 years ago with the slogan of Free Wiki World Map has taken developers and map lovers by surprise, providing editable map data, making it easier for people to interact and navigate.

Even though the competition has already previously mapped every inch of the globe, their restrictions on availability combined with complexity in rendering of information and lack of detail in many regions has made people to start using OpenStreetMap as an alternative.

OpenStreetMap started in the UK back in 2004 and is still largely dominated by European input, however North America use has grown over the past few years with the help of many organizations such as Esri who has included OpenStreetMap  as one of their free base map layers.  Since OpenStreetMap is a crowd sourced application, its future depends highly on its ability to attract more active users.

So to help celebrate 10 years of OpenStreetMap we have created a series of articles dedicated to open source mapping and web applications that have been either built with or that make use of OpenStreetMap.

Also check out some of these OpenStreetMap & Open Data related Topics:

2015 GIS in Education and Research Conference

GIS in Education and Research Conference

2015 GIS in Education and Research Conference

The Second edition of the GIS in Education and Research Conference, organized by Esri Canada in partnership with the University of Toronto was held at Hart House last Monday ( November 30, 2015).  The venue of the conference: Hart House has a unique distinction of being one of the earliest collegiate Gothic Style student center’s which opened to public on Remembrance Day in 1919.Michael Goodchild at GIS in Education and Research Conference

The GIS in Education and Research Conference was primarily aimed at sharing the research findings from all areas of GIS applications while fostering networking among students, professors and teachers from universities, colleges, and schools all across Canada.

The Conference started with the welcome address by Dr. Brent Hall, Director Education and Research with Esri Canada, followed by a plenary address from Professor Emeritus Michael Goodchild, who presented in detail the challenges of Big Data: Volume, Velocity & Variety.

This was followed by a combination of concurrent paper sessions from 10:30-12:15 on research by professors and students on four themes

  1. 3D and GeodesignMichael Goodchild at GIS in Education and Research Conference
  2. Crowdsourcing/Big Data/Open Data
  3. Glaciology/Geology
  4. Physical Processes

Following a Lunch break (12:15- 13:15) there were three concurrent sessions (13:15-14:45) on

  1. Agricultural Applications
  2. Applications in Ecology
  3. Health and Retail

Following a Break (14:45 – 15:15) there were three concurrent sessions (15:15-16:45)

  1. Crime and Emergency Management
  2. Transit Modelling and AccuracyMichael Goodchild at GIS in Education and Research Conference
  3. Data Integration / Education

There were three technical workshops conducted by Esri Canada staff which were received with great enthusiasm by the participants and were wait-listed much before the conference started.

  1. Story Telling with Maps by Jean Tong, Angela Alexander, Hayleigh Conway.
  2. Integrating R with ArcGIS by Cam Plouffe.
  3. Building Custom Web Apps with ArcGIS by Krista Amolins, Dr.Michael Leahy, Jonathan.

In addition, there was a display of Esri Canada Higher Education Scholarship posters from 2015 and submissions to this year’s Esri Young Scholar Award competition.2015 GIS in Education and Research Conference

At the exhibitors section there were exhibitor booths by Esri Canada, represented by Jean Tong, Angela and Hayleigh from Education and Research group who showcased the GIS Ambassador Program of Esri Canada. URISA Ontario was represented by Caitlin Blundell who was briefing the visitors about URISA Ontario and their various activities including their Student Membership and Bursary. Other notable exhibitors included Geospatial Niagara and Fleming College.

Overall the conference proved to be very valuable to all participants, providing great opportunity to network and learn more about research being carried out by geospatial educated people who drive the Geomatics Sector  in Canada.

  Hari Shankar Reddy Yeruva, GISP Contributing Author: Hari Shankar Reddy Yeruva, GISP is a Technology Evangelist on a mission to engage with the Professionals, Educators and Students and drive excitement around Geospatial Platforms. As an Evangelist he explores every possible opportunity to reach and inspire technical audiences to successfully discover, understand, deploy and operate the core and unique Geospatial technologies within their chosen domains. He believes in the concept of “desperately learning” and that learning is imperative if we want to solve some of the challenges our world is facing.

Creative Art/Map Competition for Nova Scotian Students

International Map Year Canada

The Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) have announced that they are hosting a Creative Map Competition for Nova Scotian Students for International Map Year.

The creative mapping GANS contest is open to students of all grades including post secondary students and is intended to help encourage young people to participate in creative cartographic activities while learning more about the geography, heritage and history of Nova Scotia.  
 

Creative Map Competition for Nova Scotian Students

Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place entries in 7 different categories thanks to several generous sponsors including Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Esri Canada, Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) and Canadian Geographic.

Nova Scotian teachers/students may submit maps, on the theme “Nova Scotia – A Province Rich in Heritage”.

Categories of competition: Creative Map Competition for Nova Scotian Students

  1. Primary – Grade 2 – Creative Maps
  2. Grade 3 – Grade 6 – Creative Maps
  3. Grade 7 – Grade 9 – Creative Maps
  4. Grade 10 – Grade 12 – Creative Maps
  5. Grade 10 – Grade 12 – GIS Story Maps
  6. Post-secondary – Creative Maps
  7. Post-secondary – GIS Story Maps
Contest rules,  guidelines and more details are available from the GANS website: http://gans.ca/map-competition.html

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.

Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax

Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax

I first started attending conferences during University when it was required that we present our research work to professionals and other researchers in the Industry. Then the year I graduated was fortunate enough to attend the PDAC conference (now this was prior to the internet and my main focus then was to find a job in my field). PDAC is a large annual conference held in Toronto and the best conference I have ever attended. And I have been attending events & conferences ever since …. I find that although CanadianGIS.com and its social media accounts provide me great networking opportunities, it always better to have opportunities to meet other professionals in the geomatics sector and network one on one.Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax Nova Scotia

International Symposium on Digital Earth (ISDE), also known as Digital Earth for short, was held this past week (Oct 4th-9th) in Halifax. It’s goal is to bring global leaders from the geospatial community together to further discuss topics themed around “A One World Vision for the Blue Planet“.

Atlantic Canada is well known for having a rich history in the world of Geomatics

Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax Nova ScotiaAtlantic Canada is well known for having a rich history in the world of geomatics, tracing back to the post-war era when some of the earliest computer applications in surveying and mapping were developed, and integrated information systems for geographical applications began to be used.  This was also the second time that International Symposium on Digital Earth was hosted in Canada (the last time was 2001 in New Brunswick) since its inaugural start back in 1998 when former US Vice President, Al Gore gave his Digital Earth speech.

Digital Earth is meant to be an event that virtually represents our dynamic planet, encompassing all of its natural and social aspects together in a geographic framework for research and everyday applications. It provides a venue that allows the geospatial community come together to work towards sustainable development ensuring that what most of us take for granted will be here for future generations.

Digital Earth in Halifax explored a wide variety of geographic related theories, technologies, applications and achievements focused around planetary sciences, information technology, computer sciences, social sciences and big data.

Above is a video we created by combining photos & videos (ones we took as well as others from social media)

The five day conference was packed with multiple presenters from all over the world.  Three to four concurrent sessions took place at the same time several times a day, each with speakers taking up to 20 minutes each to present and discuss their topics. Keynote speakers (13 in all) took place in the larger main conference room and lasted between 40 minutes to an hour.NASA at Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax Nova Scotia

With almost 150 presentations, some presenters were able to speak several times. The down side of having so many presentations occurring in overlapping time slots meant that there were times when you had to choose to attend one presentation over another (and thus missed out on some of the talks).

Half way through the conference there was an Education Outreach program that was open to the public, providing hands on activities and scientific excursions aimed to help people better visualize our planet.

The Canadian Geographic Education provided one of their iconic giant floor maps and the Canadian Space Agency (with NASA) provided an opportunity to interact with some Astronauts as a way to get a better understanding of how large our Planet is and at the same time understand how small it is in comparison to the Universe.

Jeremy Hansen and Reid Wiseman together provided an amazing presentation about how big Canada is, and Keynote Dawn Wright from Esri at Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax Nova Scotiawhat it is like to live on the International Space Station. NASA provided detailed digital representations of geographic data on their large high definition hyper-wall (screen made up of 9 smaller screens).

Other social events included some pre-conference workshops, Student Career workshop, Opening and closing Receptions, a Pub Night, Celebration Ceilidh, Student Sociable, Mentor Lunch, and various tours to scenic areas across Nova Scotia.

Considering the wide array of speakers and broad topics covered, the action packed agenda, and the abundant opportunity to network, I think Digital Earth was a good conference. I myself attend several conferences and events in the geomatics sector every year and was fortunate enough to attend Digital Earth in Halifax and certainly would go again if it returned to Canada.

Below is a slide show of photos from Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax

Below are some tweets from Digital Earth 2015 in Halifax

Click here for more Digital Earth Tweets & photos

The ArcGIS Book

The ArcGIS Book - Mobile GIS

The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying Geography to Your World

ArcGIS Book – ArcGIS, a popular geospatial software from Esri is an integrated set of mapping and GIS analysis tools available on desktop, server, mobile, and online. The latest book from the Esri Press series is a comprehensive hands on guide dedicated to the popular ArcGIS software. The ArcGIS Book It is a detailed compilation containing new ideas, detailed instructions,  large colorful graphics, photos and plenty of diagrams.

There are two versions of the book available,  a hard copy paper version and a digital PDF version that offers interaction with an accompanying website.

The book was written for a diverse range of readers, including young GIS professionals just starting out, right  up to more experienced technologists, as well as programmers, web designers, and anyone who can appreciate how maps play a major role in our society.

The digital copy is compatible with  tablets, desktops, laptops, and smart phones. There are several samples and various step b step lessons that allow the reader to tryout all of tools discussed (via ArcGIS Online), while learning about 10 key ideas about digital mapping, data analysis, and problem solving with GIS.

Download the free PDF digital version, a new book that helps make it easy for anyone to engage GIS, click here go to the ArcGIS Book website to engage with different lessons and interactive activities,  or click here to order a traditional paper copy.

 


Free online GIS courses

The Education and Training Unit of Population Data BC are offering a few free online GIS related courses and resources as part of their mandate to serve the needs of researchers, analysts and practitioners. Current courses / training resources offered are related to Administrative Data, Statistical analysis and Health geomatics. Some are provided as  self paced courses with various modules, others are offered as digital PDF training documents.Free GIS Training

  • Administrative Data 101
  • Statistical analysis
  • SAS
  • Mplus
  • Linear Regression
  • Spatial Epidemiology
  • GIS and Epidemiology
  • Introduction to Mapping Health Data
  • Space-Time Disease Surveillance
  • Introduction to Space-Time Disease Surveillance tools

Free online GIS courses

Click here to find out more information and to register for the free online GIS courses / training material


The Regina Online Culture Map

Regina Online Culture Map

The city of Regina, second largest in Saskatchewan is a beautiful little city situated in the center of the prairies offering many different attractions and events that take place every year for residents and tourists alike.

Regina Online Culture Map - online web map

Information of various events and activities can now be easily found on their online interactive Culture Web Map. With this neat little tool the city provides information on many of Regina’s cultural resources with promises of expansion as Regina grows and changes (major updates are expected to happen at least every six months)

The Regina Cultural Map is based on ESRI web server technology and has been looks rather sharp while keeping it as simple as can be so that it appeals to almost everyone.

Along the top of the interactive map contains is a quick tool bar with a variety of leisure and culture categories represented by artsy little icons. Selecting on of the icons then populates the map with the data from that category (categories such as Art Galleries, Cinemas,Festivals, Heritage properties, museums, public art and much more).

Regina Online Culture Map

Clicking on one of the icons that appears on the interactive map will then zoom the user into that particular area of interest and provide more information about it including, web site links, address location, photos and sometimes more details about it.

The Regina Online Culture Map is a great example of how data for an area can be spatially stored and presented in a tool that almost anyone can use while providing residents and tourists with details that can help them find the latest events and activities available to them.

To check out the Regina Culture Map for your self simply follow the link here http://culture.regina.ca

the Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP)

Over the past few years the term GISP (geographic information systems professional) has become pretty popular as more and more geospatial professionals look for a way to demonstrate that they have become more established in their geomatics careers. We originally published this article after applying for GISP certification ( after several years of putting it off and procrastinating) so we could document the process involved as a way to help others who have considered but not yet applied for certification.

Since then I have received my GISP certificate and there has been some major changes made to the GISP certification process by the GIS Certification Institute, so we have included details about the changes below the original article.

[We are always interested to hear from those that have applied for GISP so if you want to share anything about it then let us know. It is always a debatable topic in GIS themed social networking groups].GISP

A GISP is a certification status awarded to a geographic information systems (GIS) professional who has met the minimum standards for ethical conduct and professional practice as established by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). Thousands of professionals in GIS & Geomatics (mostly in the US) have obtained certification and are currently making the most of it to help achieve career aspirations.

There are many benefits to obtaining a GISP

Employers have started recognizing GISP certification and some are starting to prefer (and sometimes require) professionals with GISP certification when they have a GIS position that needs to be filed. A recent survey done showed that employees who have certification on the average earn more than their counterparts who do not. Still, the geomatics sector needs to emphasis the importance of GIS certification much more before the real value of having a GISP becomes recognized by the geospatial community.

It is not just in the area of earnings and wages that having a GISP certification is beneficial. A GISP is a certification status awarded to a geographic information systems (GIS) professional Many certified professionals say that the process of getting themselves certified was extremely helpful. Some have even said that the certification helped them to not only advance their careers but to redefine it as well. They are rightfully proud of their accomplishment and feel that the certification will only continue to become more valuable as time goes by, as it is the most recognized certification for a person in the GIS field.

To qualify for the GISP certification, you must meet certain benchmarks in your education and professional experience set forth by the GISCI, as well as various contributions to the profession.

The application itself is point-based; you will be given points for different and specific activities in the three categories under consideration. After you have gotten to the minimum point requirement and you have worked for at least four years in the GIS industry, you can then submit you application and start on the process to become a certified GIS Professional.

At first glance the Application may seem Intimidating

The first thing to do is download the application form from the GISCI website. my GISP ApplicationYour first glance at the application may be intimidating (as the GISCI application process can be rather lengthy and often confusing), however if you have any problems along the way, the GISCI are willing to help. Downloading the form is the simple part. You can either fill it electronically (with PDF version) or you can print it out and fill it out.  I imported the application into a word document and typed all my information into it so that it looked more professional when it came time to print it.

Next, read through the GISCI Code of Ethics & Rules of Conduct Acknowledgment Form, a document that explains the organization (and you as its certified professional) code of ethics and rules of conduct. It is mandatory to sign an acknowledgement form and include it with your application.

GISP certificate and GISP pinThe GISCI Procedures Manual should be your next stop, it takes you through the preparation for the application process systematically. There are great tips on the first couple of pages that will benefit you throughout the process. The rest of the document takes you through each component of the application. It is advisable to have your application on hand at the same time so that you can review both documents.

The bulk of the work involved in filling out your application is gathering the necessary data. You will need to not just be able to answer, in detail, questions about your education, professional experience, and professional contributions but also to provide documentation that supports the information you included in the application. This was a challenging task for myself as I moved several times over my career and lost documents along the way.

I would recommend that people start scanning and saving copies of certificates, receipts, badge tags, etc. that can be used in the application as you get them and not wait till it comes time to apply. After sending in the application, we received digital confirmation that the application was received, and then about 4 to 5 months latter a GISP certificate and pin arrived in the mail.

After your certification as a GISP, you are required to re-certify every five years. All you need for the re-certification is too prove that you continued working in or participating in the field of GIS. The components are also similar to the original certification application component. They are; Course and Conference (the educational), Contributions to the Profession and Work Experience. Renewing your certification should be a walk in the park provided you have remained active in the geomatics industry.

GISP certification now requires a Technical Exam

Apply for your GISPAs of July 1, 2015, people applying for the GISP certification will be required to take and pass a GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam, as well as meet all the current standards for certification via a portfolio based review based on ethics agreement, education, experience, and professional contributions.

The new GISP certification process will incur a $ 100 application fee, $ 250 exam fee, and a $ 100 portfolio review fee and individuals will be certified for a 3 year period instead of 5 years. Annual renewal fees of $ 95 will be due on the anniversary of an individuals initial certification and be required to be paid in full prior to re-certification. All professionals that were GISP certified or recertified before July 1, 2015 will remain certified under the current 5 year policy and then begin the new 3-year renewal process after that. See GISCI.org for exact details on fees and procedures.

There are 342 registered GISPs in Canada

According to the GISP Registry on the GISCI website there are now 8110 people who have qualified for GISP certification and 94% of those are from the USA.  In Canada there are 342 GISPs registered (119 Ontario, 111 Alberta, 78 British Columbia, 9 Saskatchewan, 7 Manitoba, 7 Nova Scotia, 4 Quebec, 4 New Brunswick, 1 Newfoundland, 1 PEI & 1 Nunavut).


[A GISP is not the only recognized certification program in the GIS industry, the Canadian Institute of Geomatics & Esri both have certification programs as well].

Trans Canada Trail – interactive web map

Trans Canada Trail Map

The Trans Canada Trail is the worlds longest networked multi-use recreational trail system that consists of more than 16500 kilometers of the fully operational trails across Canada. It is currently about seventy three percent of the overall proposed routes and when fully completed should span over 22500 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean, across every province and territory, connecting thousands of communities and all Canadians. “The Trans Canada Trail inspires Canadians of all ages to get active and keep fit and helps educate individuals of all ages about Canada’s history and cultural and natural heritage”.

 

Every day Canadians and international visitors use these trails to walk, bike, ski, canoe and snowmobile along. Several information Pavilions have been established across the system to provide information about sections of the trail helping people to experience Canada’s unique landscapes. The Trans Canada Trail Organization does not actually own or operate any of the trails but provides a non profit organization to helps run and manage the community based project with the different sections owned and maintained by various local organizations, provincial and national agencies and a multitude of municipalities.

The Trans Canada Trail Map web site offers an interactive Trans Canada Trail map based on ESRI technology that provides users with a new way to explore and learn more about the Trans Canada Trail System. The interactive site encourages public input providing functionality allowing Canadians to place points or lines on the map marking different parts of the trail that they may have explored or places that they wish to explore as well as opportunities to upload photos and stories to help share their experiences with other Canadians. The online web map offers users the ability to explore the trail system for areas that may be more suitable for different activities such as biking, canoeing and cross-country skiing as well as search tools to help find parts of the trail network near you.

There is a disclaimer on the site recommending that the map works best in Fire fox, Safari or Google Chrome, but I did notice that the map browser can sometimes still be some what problematic in these browsers. Either way I am sure you will quickly notice that this online web map is a great little way to way to explore and learn more about the Trans Canada Trail System. – Trans Canada Trail map


[Article originally published on June 23, 2013]