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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

The Value of Geospatial Information in Economy

The video below contains an interview with Ed Kennedy, an Associate with Hickling Arthurs Low Corporation, who helps explain the value of geospatial information in economy and the significant role of the Canadian geomatics sector. In the interview, Kennedy identifies the Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study, that was aimed to help update the profile of the geomatics sector in Canada and identify changes in the geospatial market.

The Value of Geospatial Information in Economy base on the the Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study

The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan and Value Study provides highlights and key results from work carried out by Hickling Arthurs Low Corporation on behalf of Natural Resources Canada. This research represents the most comprehensive assessment of geomatics and geospatial information in Canada to date.

In the study, geospatial information was used to estimate the Canadian economy, based on in depth case studies of 14 different sectors of the economy and an expert panel made up of people from both the geospatial community and the economics community. The Geomatics Sector produces geospatial information and makes use of it possible for other sectors through geospatial services and technologies. The geomatics sector includes a wide range of organizations from industry, government and academic institutions.

What does the summary report tell us?

  • In 2013, about 2,450 private sector geomatics firms contributed $2.3 billion to the Canadian economy.
  • The use of geospatial information contributed $20.7 billion – or 1.1% of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $19 billion to Real Income, and generated approximately 19,000 jobs to the Canadian economy in 2013. Regional distributions of GDP and Real Income by region are available in the report.
  • The uptake of “open” geospatial data (data available a minimal or no cost and for use without restriction) provides an estimated additional $695 million to GDP and $635 million in real income in 2013.
  • National scale productivity impact estimates attributed to the use of geospatial information (measured by percentage change in industry output) are most significant (>1.0%) for:

Click here to download a digital copy of the 287 page Canadian geomatics environmental scan findings report referred to in the interview below.

The Value of Geospatial Information in Economy

Geo Community Projects Portal to be Launched August 2016

GeoAlliance Canada - Geo Community Projects PortalGeo Community Projects Portal to be Launched August 2016

GeoAlliance Canada will soon be launching their community projects portal, a valuable piece of digital infrastructure that they hope will allow their members to refine project ideas, build teams, and seek out funding. The portal will provide a neutral platform for project teams to share documents and collaborate. Project submissions must fall into one of three categories: data access, education and capacity building, or sector identity.

All eligible submissions will be considered by an appointed Project Review Committee, and GeoAlliance Canada will support approved projects in the following ways…

• By connecting project leads with potential team members across the country and across the sectors and disciplines that make up the Canadian geospatial community;
• By connecting people with similar ideas and encouraging them to work together to reduce duplication and share resources where it makes sense to do so;
• By providing a detailed evaluation of each project proposal, with feedback to help the project lead develop and refine their idea;
• By supporting external funding applications made by project teams;
• By providing communications and marketing support through GeoAlliance’s cross-country, cross-sector outreach;
• By providing oversight and accountability to help project teams meet their milestones;
• By administering a dedicated budget for community-led projects.

The portal and Project Review Committee are being launched by GeoAlliance in a bid to reduce unnecessary duplication of efforts across our community and increase the overall investment in projects that benefit our community. The portal is designed to be flexible and scalable over time. By focusing our collective energy on feasible, high impact projects, we will raise the profile of the geography, geomatics and geospatial professions across Canada.

 

Click here to find out more details such as how will the portal operate … (Note: Project leads must belong to an organization that is a GeoAlliance Canada member in good standing)

GeoAlliance Canada Receives Funding to Promote Use of Geospatial Data and Tools

GeoAlliance Canada

GeoAlliance Canada Receives Funding to Promote Use of Geospatial Data and Tools

Dec 14, 2015 – Today the Canadian geospatial community received a significant economic thanks to a new funding contribution agreement with Natural Resources Canada. GeoAlliance Canada, a national non-profit umbrella type organization launched earlier this year, received the funding in support of a new mandate to provide essential leadership within the geomatics sector and the geospatial community.

Through the engagement of key groups and organizations, GeoAlliance Canada has begun to articulate and promote the benefits of using geospatial data and tools for effective decision making to leaders within business, government and education circles. The contribution funding from Natural Resources Canada will have an immediate impact by providing essential operational resources for this fledgling non-profit organization.

For more information about GeoAlliance Canada or this contribution funding agreement to Promote Use of Geospatial Data and Tools, please check out the GeoAlliance Canada website.

 


Historical Maps of Toronto

Historical Maps of Toronto - Bird’s Eye View Chromolithograph
Explore Toronto’s past through Historical Maps

Historical maps of Toronto - Map of York 1812Historical Maps can be a great resource to help people learn more about certain geography at a particular point in time, help locate where our ancestors lived, or help us understand how a neighborhood or surrounding area changed over time. Because older maps were created by hand, they tend to be more artistic and visually appealing and thus can be attention grabbers.

Historical Maps have existed in libraries & various personal collections for years but thanks to advancement in digital technology and the internet, we have started to see more old maps being shared in the geospatial community.

The Historical Maps of Toronto blog created by historical maps enthusiast Nathan Ng provides simple and free access to a large selection of notable historical maps of the Toronto area that have been scanned from collections at the Toronto Library and the Toronto archives.  He started the site as a way to generate more curiosity for geography, and as a way to provide an easy entry point for people to discovery and further investigate historical cartography.

Maps on the site generally have public domain status (except where otherwise noted) and can be downloaded, printed and shared.

Some of the maps in the collection include:

Plus many more, click here for a full list of Historical Maps of Toronto maps available

Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison tool

Are you a resident of the Greater Toronto area and want to know what your community looked like 50 years ago?

Well Nathan Ng has also taken his blog a step further by teaming up with Esri to create the Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison toolThis free web application provides people with the ability to compare different places in Toronto through time from 2013 back to 1818.

Historical  paper maps from the Toronto Library and the Toronto archives were scanned, georeferenced, mosaiked and then combined so that people could compare them with one another using a simple easy to use interface that anyone could use.

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Would you support a National Geospatial Student Union

Last September we were one of several sponsors who helped make the GoGeomatics Back to School Socials (which took place in numerous cities from coast to coast including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Niagara, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver) a success.

GoGeomatics Managing Director, Jonathan Murphy had his team of group leaders ask attendees to participate in a career survey. One of the questions on the survey was “Would they support a Canadian National Geospatial Student Union if it provided opportunities such as co-operatives, job opportunities or internship positions?” (See actual questions asked here). 83% of the 200 participants responded that, they would support a Canadian National Geospatial Student Union.

Mr. Murphy told us that he added this question to his country wide survey because he feels that Canada does not have a credible organization that represents the interests of student and young professionals within the geomatics sector.

Would you support a National Geospatial Student Union?

National Geospatial Student Union - Geomatics students talkingWhen he was a student, he noticed there was a significant gap in the geospatial community, just like there is now even though there are several groups and associations that argue that they do represent Canadian geomatics students. However when you examine membership and the boards of these organizations you notice that they include members further on in there careers with different agendas.

Not only has GoGeomatics discovered that there is over whelming interest from students and young professionals to form a union that could unite students all across Canada but they have also found out that key members of industry and government, are willing to support such a group.

GoGeomatics knows that they can accomplish such a task on their own,so are seeking volunteers in the geospatial community that are interested in joining a steering committee to further explore creating such a student union. They are looking for a balanced group of people, not just students.

If you are interested in joining the steering committee or finding out what GoGeomatics thinks a Canadian National Geospatial Student Union would do the Canadian geomatics sector, then check out Mr.Murphy’s latest edition to the GoGeomatics Magazine for details.


Open Data Should be for Everyone

Learn QGISLearn QGIS is an open mapping initiative

 Learn QGIS : The information age is powered by data

In Canada, data drives policy decisions, business decisions and community decisions. From national conversations about social issues to local campaigns for more park benches, our decisions are guided by geographic data – and when more people have access to authoritative data, the more informed these important conversations can be.

With the government’s recent commitment to an Open Data Action Plan, there is no doubt that Canadian data publishers will continue to make high priority datasets available online. These data are touted as being accessible to all, and that’s true – but their actual use is limited to those with the technical skills to know what to do with them.

LearnQGIS.com is a new Canadian initiative to change the way open data is used. I’m asking you to check out the website, sign up to get involved, and please – this is important – visit https://www.raiseanaim.org/projects/learn-qgis to endorse the project or support it financially.

In our experience, open data publishers have done a reasonably good job of connecting with local app developers (or ‘civic hackers’), who use the data to write web applications, often in the context of weekend hackathons. These applications generally fail to gain traction – they are quickly written and quickly forgotten. There is a growing (and as of yet un-met) demand from professionals outside of the hackathon groups in a variety of industries to support their use of the data as well.

 “The world is witnessing the growth of a global movement facilitated by technology and social media and fuelled by information – one that contains enormous potential to create more accountable, efficient, responsive and effective governments and businesses, and to spur economic growth. Open data sits at the heart of this global movement.” – G8 Open Data Charter

Learn QGISMany open datasets are in geospatial formats or have a spatial component (a postal code, for example). Therefore, the transmission of GIS knowledge to those outside our industry is critical to the accessibility of open data. Journalists, non-profits, small businesses, citizen groups, researchers, and anyone else working on a professional or pet project ought to be able to download a shapefile and make a basic map. They should be able to combine data from different sources, including their own proprietary information.

“We’ve been seeing over the last couple of years a new layer of interest in Open Data and that interest is coming from people who can’t use or even understand raw data files. There is a clear need to provide ways and means for everyone to leverage raw data.” – Keith McDonald, City of Toronto Open Data Lead

Luckily, we live in the age of free and open source GIS, such as the popular QGIS platform. With a short primer on some geographic fundamentals, even non-technical users can successfully create their very own custom map. The experience, however, can be frustrating and there are many roadblocks to success. The learning curve can be steep, and the existing training options don’t adequately meet the needs of users with non-technical backgrounds. Right now we’re telling people to take a course and hope it answers their questions, or post to a forum and hope for an answer they can use. I suspect we, as a geomatics community, could help generate better outcomes – including increased name recognition for our industry – by building better relationships with geo-rookies.

These “rookies” are people who are actively working on projects that would benefit from a GIS. They’re experts in their own fields, not people looking to enter the geomatics industry themselves. What they really need is an expert guide to hold their hand while they work on a DIY GIS project, offering a little general advice about getting started, answering a couple of specific questions about the project, and helping to bail them out if they run into trouble. I like to equate it to working out with a personal trainer – sure, you could probably figure out what exercises you should be doing and how to do them properly yourself, but you’re much more likely to succeed with someone supporting you and holding you accountable.

“Technical skills are becoming increasingly important for media professionals. GIS is a growing field for journalists, and maps are an increasingly popular and important way of presenting information to readers and analyzing data dumps from governments. The program Ms. Blundell outlines would be an important resource, one that does not currently exist, to bring skills training and guidance to media professionals. There is an established and under served market for technical training and this program would go a long way toward fulfilling those needs.” – William Wolfe-Wiley, Homepage Editor, Canada.com

My vision for LearnQGIS.com is to provide this “personal trainer” experience. It’s a way to connect rookies with a geospatial guide who can advise them and help them succeed. Once an expert is on board as a volunteer guide, they are also invited to apply to be a QGIS instructor. LearnQGIS instructors receive everything they need to run a training seminar wherever they’re located in Canada, including marketing and logistical support, presentation materials, and tutorials with pre-packaged data. Revenue from the workshops is divided between the instructor, the site, and the QGIS Project.

Aside from the opportunity to become an instructor, there are many benefits to volunteering as a guide. In my practice as a GIS consultant, I’ve noticed that training my clients in open source tools has also benefitted me. They’re more willing to expand their use of the technology once they understand it. When they have the power to make simple edits they are more willing to have me do some work in the short term, knowing they won’t need to call for support if they decide to use a different shade of green for a feature. And once they understand what goes into a mapping project, they’re often more willing to pay a real expert to do the more complicated work they can’t do themselves. I’ve been playing the role of ‘guide’ for years, and it’s been a win-win. I’ve also learned that teaching others one-on-one or in a classroom is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge, and helping someone with a project can help you gain experience in a new industry.

This project already has buy-in from data publishers and leaders in the geospatial community. Potential users are enthusiastic to get started. I encourage you to get involved at www.learnqgis.com. Sign up to be a guide; apply to become an instructor. Share the link broadly – we all know someone who really should be using GIS in their work. We know our industry is important; let’s show our friends outside the sector what we can do for them.

“Access to data allows individuals and organizations to develop new insights and innovations that can improve the lives of others and help to improve the flow of information within and between countries…. We are at a tipping point, heralding a new era in which people can use open data to generate insights, ideas and services to create a better world for all.” – G8 Open Data Charter