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World Shaded Relief KMZ file [free download]

This handy color shaded relief map of the world including oceans was created from the NOAA ETOPO1 data set and was intended to be used with handheld Garmin GPS units, but can also make a nice colorful back ground image to use in Google Earth. Find out how to download this free resource …

Newfoundland and Labrador OpenData

Looking for data sets featuring Newfoundland and Labrador? Then you should check out the Newfoundland and Labrador OpenData. They are providing data in various accessible formats numerical tabular styled files as well as common text formats.

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.

Novara GeoSolutions Welcomes new Quality Assurance Analyst

Novara GeoSolutions offers a wide range of GIS, consulting and mapping services welcomes Heather Rone as Quality Assurance Analyst …

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

Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison tool

An online mapping tool of Toronto has been providing users the ability to compare locations in Toronto through various periods of time from 2013 back to 1818. Check out this neat online mapping application that helps promote historic maps of Toronto …

East Hants Open Data

East Hants, Nova Scotia, Canada is a vibrant municipality between Metro Halifax and the Bay of Fundy. East Hants uses GIS technology in all their departments, from sewer, water, and road projects, to regional planning, taxation, and municipal elections. Recently they developed an online portal (Interactive East Hants) to help Nova Scotian’s explore their growing Municipality’s geospatial data sets.

Online Digital Atlas: A Shared Vision

Online Digital Atlas: A Shared Vision

Online Digital Atlas - the ArcGIS book

Every year, a small team of Esri staff travels to COGS to recruit new talent. As part of the interview process, they provide a demonstration of the lattest ArcGIS functionality. Arriving returning home from Haida Gwaii in February, I was interested to check out some of the new developments, especially since I had been far removed from the detailed GIS functionality for several years.

This helped led to a re-connection with Clint Brown from Esri (Redlands), and a copy of Esri’s new book, ‘the ArcGIS Book. What struck me from the ArcGIS demonstration was that the new software tools seem to allow for closer collaboration between community groups, government agencies, educational institutions and industry. These tools include the ability to manage different layers, with different access rights, stored either on the server or in the cloud.

Geography is Key for Integrating Communities

While reading the ArcGIS Book, I noticed that the last of the ten ‘Big Ideas’ was that ‘GIS is social. GIS is collaborative’ and that ‘Geography is key for integrating work across communities’. Therefore, it seems that the time is right to test the ‘collaborative‘ hypothesis. Coincidentally, the Nova Scotia Provincial Government was announcing their new open data policy and created a new online open data site providing the geospatial community with free access to base maps and data sets featuring Nova Scotia. Also by chance the Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) has been recently working on a concept for an online digital atlas (Digital Atlas of Nova Scotia – DANS).

An online digital atlas would allow the geospatial community to have the tools to develop web and mobile apps that accesses a combination of their own databases combined with maps and spatial data from other agencies and organizations. Each data layer (or map) from the digital online atlas would have various terms and conditions for sharing information.  Some layers would be read only while other layers would be able to be updated by the geospatial community under certain conditions.

The significant role proposed by GANS to obtain the technology resources to support apps and associated maps will help them remain sustainable into the future. However, this is only one pillar of the shared vision.

What is the next step in the process, as we move forward?

Online Digital Atlas - map of Haida Gwaii

Community groups must have the resources to develop their applications. We need the next generation of application developers. Through training, mentoring and curriculum changes in our educational institutions, we can address this shortcoming. 

On Haida Gwaii, John Broadhead at the Gowgaia Institute has talked about the need for an online atlas of the natural and cultural resources. 

GANS is promoting a similar concept here in Nova Scotia. At the community level, groups appreciate the need for application development to meet the needs of citizens, visitors, as well as the municipal government. This follows five years after the work by Paul Beach in Sault Ste Marie. He championed the concept of a ‘community information utility’, today, the tools are readily available, in a more collaborative world.

We can imagine a nested set of geographies. The Annapolis Valley lies within the region of Southwest Nova, within the province of Nova Scotia. Each region recognizes its geographic context. The same approach can be applied to Cape Breton, the South shore. Indeed, it could be part of the standard infrastructure for existing Regional Enterprise Network (REN) and could be linked to existing products e.g. i-valley.ca

What are the steps to turn this ‘Idea‘  into ‘Action‘ ?

  1. determine the extent of the geography
  2. Online Digital Atlasobtain digital base maps at the appropriate scale
  3. decide on the community mapping need:
    – historic properties
    – trails
    – land use
    – tourism facilities
  4. design the ‘look and feel’ of the user interface
  5. determine whether web/mobile app. or both
  6. hire application developer
  7. prototype application
  8. testing
  9. marketing and sales
  10. product release

Why now?

The technology has matured so that a properly monitored portal can serve up the different data sets, and yet meet the security needs of the data providers. There is recognition that to successfully apply these technologies we need more collaboration.

The need to visualize the geography of rural Nova Scotia is important to economic development. The skills and products developed through this process are transferable to other geographies, applications and markets

Access to a digital atlas is a prerequisite for groups to develop apps. that meet the local needs of citizens. Whether the underlying technology is Esri, Google, Open Source or a combination, we are seeing a shared vision of digital geography.

References

About the author

Bob Maher is a Geographer, living in Paradise, Nova Scotia. In the 1980’s he designed, developed and delivered a number of intensive computer programming programs at COGS. In 2000, he returned as Senior Research Scientist at the Applied Geomatics Research Group until his retirement in 2011. He has worked closely with the Geomatics industry for over thirty years.

Open Data – Questions and Answers

Open Data: Questions and Answers by George A Duckett

If you have a question about OpenData then Open Data – Questions and Answers will have all the answers you are looking for. It takes some of the most popular questions from the opendata.stackexchange.com website and answers them in detail.

You can use this book to look up commonly asked questions, browse questions on a particular topic, compare answers to common topics, check out the original source and much more. It has been designed to be very easy to use, with several internal references set up that makes browsing in many different ways possible. It covers a wide range of open data sources including North American & International geospatial data sets.

The digital Kindle version contains links to resources and web sites referenced in the answers.

Topics covered include:Open Data: Questions and Answers

Order your copy of this geo-book here …


Northern Policy Institute launches ‘North by Numbers’

NorthByNumbers Exploring Northen Ontarios Communities

Northern Policy Institute, Northern Ontario’s independent research think tank located in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, has launched a new interactive online mapping application called North by Numbers. Their new interactive  data tool can be used to display census data from Northern Ontario for the years 2001 to 2011. 

NorthByNumbers Exploring Northen Ontarios CommunitiesData layers can be customized by selecting various topics using available options provided in several drop-down lists.  First users select a Topic, then a Variable, then a Year, and finally define the Geography of interest.

The results using several data sources from Statistics Canada or the National Household Survey of 2011 will appear in the map window with a small legend  near the top right of the screen. Data layers are displayed using a sequential color scheme quintile approach made up of 5 different colors, except for Aboriginal Identity variables that uses a natural breaks classification method instead.NorthByNumbers - export data layers to Google Earth

Export Data Layers in tabular format or Google Earth

They also provide users the ability to print or export the results. You can download the corresponding tabular data for the entire layer in comma separated values (CSV) file format file to use with MS Excel, Open Office Calc, Notepad, etc. You can also download the actual layer itself to be viewed in Google Earth, where you can add other data layers to further customize your results.

Check out North by Numbers yourself: http://NorthByNumbers.ca