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GeoNB – the ‘All Things Geographic’ place for New Brunswick data

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GeoNB – ‘All Things Geographic’ for New Brunswick data

Last year I featured GeoNB, New Brunswick’s approach to publicly available geographic information for the entire province of New Brunswick [see the previous article here if you missed it]. This valuable resource by Service New Brunswick provides a robust web mapping application, value-added products, various applications and extensive collection of open source data sets. Not to mention an outstanding web GIS application that stands out from others and one that earned them an Esri Canada Award of Excellence award last fall at the Esri User Conference in Fredericton.

GeoNB currently includes a wide variety of data sets for the entire province including digital topographic layers, orthophotos, property maps and much more. On top of having one of the best online mapping applications available they also provide access to download any of these digital data sets in a variety of formats for people to use in their own GIS software packages.

“Created by Service New Brunswick, GeoNB is a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) that uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to provide an efficient, collaborative and open data-sharing environment with key partners and users across the province.” [source: esri.ca]

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Over the past 4 years public usage of New Brunswick spatial data has increased significantly, with the average traffic to the site increasing from 5 thousand to over 13 thousand visitors every week. To meet the growing demand, they recently upgraded their geographic information gateway, building upon existing GeoNB initiatives and ensuring that residents of New Brunswick have easy access to geospatial information, pre-built maps and free online applications .

Basically the new site becomes the “All Things Geographic” place for New Brunswick’s geographic content consolidated and organized into one easy to use location. An initiative that helps encourage the creation of new geospatial products and solutions from geographic data that has been collected, maintained, and distributed using open data accepted standards. The new geographic portal is visually pleasing, well laid out making it easy to navigate and appeals to a wide audience. Everyone can take advantage of this free service from home owners that would like to know more about their property, developers seeking better sites for development, and those more advanced GIS users that want to use their own GIS software.

“Service New Brunswick has done exceptionally well in promoting the use of geographic knowledge for various applications through the province’s SDI,’ says Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada.” In a time when governments face greater financial constraints, they have created a cost-effective system for opening up valuable data and applications to benefit everyone. GeoNB serves as a model of intelligent government service delivery for others to follow.”
“GeoNB has quickly become a popular tool with the public because it’s easy to use and saves users valuable time and money,” notes Bernie Connors, SDI manager at Service New Brunswick. “It also eliminates duplicate efforts and additional costs for our partners through shared data and infrastructure.” [source: esri.ca]

There are some new geospatial applications that were designed to support various ongoing government programs including wetland conservation, flood damage reduction, protected areas management, as well as a coordinate transformation service that converts coordinates between datums and map projections. geonb_applications_smThere are 4 key sections that include the Data Catalogue, Applications, Map Products and the new GIS Developer’s Corner. Each section will continue to grow and develop with new datasets and tools as inferred by the GeoNB Action Plan.

The Data Catalogue contains over 35 different geographic datasets in a wide range of formats that are available to download free. Here they simplified things pretty well making data very easy to find. Using a table format they provide the name of the dataset, link to more info about it, thumb nails for quick view, date the data was created, formats available and links to download data. This will be the section that most GIS people looking for data where go to.

The Applications section provides access to over 10 custom designed applications that combine datasets and value-added functionality. These tools have a broad range of uses but have mainly been tailored to different intended users and include everything from the popular web map viewer (read more details about the map viewer here) and Coordinate Transformation Service to more specialised viewers aimed at those in Oil and Gas or Wetlands Mapping. Certainly worth a look if you are just curious about learning more about New Brunswick.

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The Map Products section contains more pre-made value-added off the shelf mapping products such as static maps that have been generated to convey certain information. Again here they offer a broad range of products tailored to different intended users; but unlike most of the other products on the site, these are more traditional finished map products. This section will appeal more to those that need maps but do not have the ability to create their own.

The GIS Developer’s Corner is a place where people can leverage more geomatics technology and intelligence making use of some applications that allow them to go beyond the basic functionality such as using the open data sources as a live map service instead of downloading (this is one of the features that I like and now use when generating maps for area in New Brunswick). GeoNB utilizes ESRI ArcGIS Server and has made data available as ArcGIS Server map services to those that have the ability to take advantage of it.

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So I am sure by now you get the idea. Once again the team at Service New Brunswick have done a great job promoting and increasing the use of geographic data and maps in New Brunswick. From a new easy to use new geographic portal (in both French and English) that provides people with plenty of data and a wide range of robust applications GeoNB continues to stand out among the rest. But again don’t just take my word about it, go over to the new portal your self, make use of some of the data and tools and let the folks at Service New Brunswick know they are doing a great job.

[Sources: http://www.esri.ca/en/content/new-brunswick-data-usage-increases-significantly-through-geonb – http://www.snb.ca/geonb1/e/index-E.asp – http://canadiangis.com/geonb-map-viewer-free-new-brunswick-digital-data-sets.php – and Service New Brunswick staff]


Submit an Online Web Mapping Site

Online Web mapping involves designing, implementing, generating and delivering maps to end users via the Internet through common web browsers, allowing people to use maps interactively with out needing high end software. Web GIS is very similar to web mapping but provides analysis, data processing, publishing and other GIS abilities. Often these two terms are used synonymously, even if they are not exactly the same product. None the less both have been increasing exposure over the past few years, a major accomplishment for the GIS industry and since Web mapping can not exist without GIS, (and for simplicity) we have combined these all into one category here on the site.

internet with globe - web mappingOur web mapping section examines the various online web mapping and web GIS applications that have been created all across Canada.

Some of ones that we have covered are ones that we use on a regular basis, some that we stumbled across and some have been submitted to us by others. So as you browse through the our Web mapping section category you will find that are a wide array of online mapping applications with Canadian content being offered via the internet from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Some notable one that has been covered so far includes:

 Plus many more that you can find here

Our aim is to continue covering all the great Online Web mapping in Canada so we would love for others to submit online web mapping applications that either they have created themselves or ones that they are aware of but we have yet to cover on our site. Simply use the form below …

Niagara Falls Online Maps & Data Downloads

Ever since I reviewed the GEONB online mapping application by Service New Brunswick (SNB) and started to investigate various Canadian Open Data Sources, emails have been flooding my inbox with information about other Canadian GIS resources that I should share with all the CanadianGIS.com viewers [Thanks for that! And keep them coming!].

So in an effort to fulfill  those requests, I have been taken some time to review some of the various technology and available data sets from across Canada and continue reviewing them in the GIS data section of the web site throughout the next few months. For one, to learn how well other sites compare (since SNB has set the bar pretty high) and then also to ensure that information about these great GIS resources are shared with others in the Canadian GIS community who can make use of them After all it is one thing to have great GIS information available but it is even better when people know about it.

Niagara Falls Open Data & Online MapsAmong some of the recent responses was an email from the City of Niagara Falls providing me with information about their Interactive Mapping Service  (IMS) known as the Falls Viewer, Niagara Falls Open Data sets and various GIS accomplishments by the Information Systems division. So I took some time, read the provided information, explored the website, tested out the online applications, downloaded some files and this is what I learned:

Niagara Falls, Ontario is located a historical Canadian city located on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region. It covers a land area of approximately 212 square kilometers including both urban and rural regions; it was incorporated in 1903 and has over 82,500 residents. This historical border city is most known for the world famous set of waterfalls, the American falls and the Horseshoe falls. These bring mass amounts of visitors to the region making it on of the major tourist attractions in the world.Niagara Falls Ontario oblique aerial photo

The City of Niagara Falls state that they are committed to improving services to their citizens, providing transparency and showing accountability with the most innovative and cost effective methods that they can provide. One of their newest initiative is to provide Niagara Falls Open Data (the capacity to provide online access to internal data in a standards compliant Web 2.0 way) on-line. They have designed their website to support the publication and distribution of public information in both viewable IMS,  and also in downloadable SHP & PDF formats. They are small but they hope that their efforts in the open government arena will help make them stand out from other municipalities.

A versatile Information Systems division creates and maintains GIS data for the municipality. They take advantage of the best software resources for their projects including Manifold, Autodesk Map 3D and Symposium plus various in house developed software applications. Windows operating systems are utilized with a SQL Server as the main database platform and most of their applications are running in 64 bit mode.

Buildings in the city of Niagara Falls Ontario CanadaThey no longer run ESRI products because they have found that they were no longer cost effective for their size, however the main data format for data exchange is still the industry standard shape file. The GIS department currently supports over 400 layers of information from various sources – mostly in-house research/information with some outside agency support. Property and addressing layers are maintained internally and unlike many other municipalities do not rely on Teranet / MPAC for anything except Quality Control. All data layers are based on UTM Zone 17 N coordinate system using NAD 83 datum.

Their website provides users with a variety of pre-made maps available in PDF format (such as a base map, zoning maps and a street map), a data catalogue of various downloadable data sets and also an Interactive Web Mapping Service called the Falls Viewer where users can create their own maps in their browser. There is also an Address Finder search tool where users can locate valid street addresses displayed on a location map as well as a Street and Address Master List where you can quickly look up the street address.

Niagara Falls Open Data & Online Maps

Niagara Falls Open Data & Online Maps - Falls Viewer online web map

The Falls Viewer (located on a separate domain – fallsviewer.ca) is a simple to use online mapping application that allows users to create customized maps of Niagara Falls using a wide range of provided data sets. They provide the option of using either a base map background or using a black and white orthophoto.

There are custom tools that allow you to add text and draw features, a select tool for selecting features in existing layers, a buffer tool, measure tool and many more. You have the ability to print your custom map or use the permalink option to generate a custom link to the map you have created, to share with others or to come back to in the future. They also provide plenty of useful help in the form of FAQ and video tutorials.

There were a few things that I didn’t like about the online viewer, I couldn’t figure out how to change any of the color of the layers , there was no option to export data from the viewers or import other data sets. However other then that it contained just about everything that you would come to expect from an IMS, therefor thumbs up to the efforts of the Information Systems division for implementing a great little web mapping application for the City of  Falls.

There are several  downloadable Pre Made Maps of Niagara Falls for those that need a map quickly or are not interested in making their own customized maps. And for us GIS users who have access to GIS software applications, they have also a open data catalogue with a multitude of data sets available in UTM Zone 17N, NAD 83 (see the Open Data FAQ for more details on the terms of use).

So it is pretty obvious that the GIS folks at the City of Niagara Falls have done a great job with their efforts of supporting open government initiatives by providing Canadians with data sets to use in their own GIS software applications and also for providing the Falls Viewer for those that do not have access to GIS software. If you have a need for data in the Niagara Falls region or just want to play around with available data sets then I recommend that  you take some time and check out the data sets and applications provided.

For more information about the Niagara Falls Open Data initiative, refer to their FAQ section, the Terms and Conditions or contact them directly (opendata@niagarafalls.ca) with your questions, concerns or input. They have mentioned that would love to have your input and feedback in order to continue providing great information and services .

[image sources: niagarafalls.ca]

GeoNB Map Viewer and free New Brunswick Digital data sets

Check out the remarkable efforts that Service New Brunswick has been able to accomplish ensuring that their residents have access to good geographic information data sets as well as access to amazing free online web mapping tools for those that are not fortunate enough to have GIS related software.

If you are looking at generating maps related to the province of New Brunswick then I recommend that you check out these data sets as they will provide a stable building block to build a decent GIS with. And if you are not interested in doing any GIS work with New Brunswick data sets, then at least check out the GeoNB online web Map Viewer.