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Esri Canada Celebrates 30 Years of Geographic Innovation

Esri Canada marks 30 years of operations this year with a continued commitment to provide innovative enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform. ArcGIS has evolved from a niche technology for mapping professionals into an open, pervasive Web GIS platform that everyone can use. It runs in the cloud, on enterprise servers or both computing environments, enabling users to easily mash up basemaps and data into intelligent Web maps that can be shared within and outside their organization.arcinfo

“Over the past 30 years, GIS has become far easier to use and can now be deployed in the cloud and accessed on mobile devices,” notes Alex Miller, president and founder, Esri Canada. “The technology has also advanced to incorporate real-time data collection and analysis, providing a common operational picture to entire organizations. These developments make it easier for people to use and share maps, data and analytical tools to make informed, collaborative decisions. While access to the technology has changed, one thing remains the same: GIS continues to enable users to solve problems in new ways.”

Esri Canada Celebrates 30 Years of Geographic Innovation

Alex Miller founded Esri Canada in 1984. From a small office in Toronto with six employees, the company has grown into a multi-million dollar business that employs more than 330 staff in 16 locations across Canada. Its customer base of more than 10,000 organizations has expanded from its initial wins in the forestry and agriculture sectors to all industries including government, business and education.  This significant growth is testament to the company’s unique ability in applying mapping and analysis to nearly every concern. In 2010, for advancing the use of GIS technology in numerous industries across Canada, the company received the Ontario Business Achievement Award for Innovation in 2010.

Increasing government efficiency and transparency Alex Miller - Esri CanadaEsri Canada began its foray into the municipal sector in 1985, when it developed the County of Oxford’s Land Related Information System to support land-use planning. The system integrates and provides access to information such as property and infrastructure data from various government systems. It received the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Exemplary Systems in Government Award in 1988 and became a model for Canadian municipalities. Today, Esri’s ArcGIS platform is the GIS standard in all levels of government.

To help local governments deploy GIS quickly, Esri Canada provides ArcGIS for Canadian Municipalities. This series of free app templates helps improve transparency, increase citizen engagement and reduce the costs of disseminating information such as election results and government services. In 2010, the company launched the Esri Canada Community Maps Program, which is succeeding in building a detailed, national Web basemap for Canada using authoritative data contributed by government organizations across the country. The basemap is free for governments and the public to use, and speeds up the creation of mapping apps.

The company also developed the Esri Canada Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) solution that enables real-time tracking of fleet vehicles. The hosted solution improves the safety and productivity of municipal field operations including snow removal, tree pruning, roadside mowing and road repairs. As well, Esri Canada recently introduced Assessment Analyst, which allows assessors to incorporate various data and 3D modeling into their analysis to increase the accuracy of property valuations. These pioneering solutions are helping to revolutionize government processes and create new opportunities for increasing efficiencies and revenues for customers.

Improving business productivity ESRI ArcGIS 10
J.D. Irving in New Brunswick was the first forestry company in North America to use Esri technology for the sustainable management of forests back in 1983. They consolidated numerous GIS apps and datasets across 10 regional offices into a single enterprise GIS in 2010. In addition to centrally managing their forestry operations for watercourse buffers, habitat and growing forests, the system now supports their other business areas including transportation, shipbuilding, retail and agriculture.

Today, Esri technology is used by banks, insurers, real estate developers, manufacturers, airports and hospitals to improve productivity, manage risk and effectively deliver products and services. Esri Canada offers the Esri Business Analyst (Canadian Edition), which enables organizations to use location analytics with demographic and business data to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, competition, market and trends. To make it even easier for business users to incorporate GIS into their daily workflows, the company also provides Esri Maps for Location Analytics. These solutions integrate mapping and analytical tools directly into popular systems for business intelligence (IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects and MicroStrategy), customer relationship management (Dynamics CRM and Salesforce), and productivity and collaboration (Microsoft Office and SharePoint).

Advancing geographic education
Esri CanadaSince 1997, Esri Canada has offered education programs that provide affordable access to GIS technology to publicly-funded Canadian schools from kindergarten to grade 12, as well as universities and colleges. It recently introduced a GIS in Education Grant Program, which awards software and training grants to five K-12 schools every year to expand the use of GIS in the classroom. The company also develops free teaching resources that help educators incorporate GIS courses into their curriculum and enhance students’ critical thinking skills.

To promote the pursuit of GIS careers, Esri Canada awards more than $2 million in cash, software and training grants annually to students in more than 50 Canadian universities and colleges through its GIS Scholarships Program. The company also provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate GIS students with an opportunity to jumpstart their career through the Associate GIS Professional Program. Students are given a 12-month, full-time paid position at Esri Canada where they gain cross-functional experience in areas including professional services, training and technical support.

Building up the community and the environment

“The innovative culture and entrepreneurial spirit we’ve fostered among our staff, as well as the partnerships we’ve built, have allowed us to grow our company and industry over the past 30 years,” continues Mr. Miller. “Whether it’s enabling open government, identifying the best site for a new facility or improving education through interactive learning, our goal is to continue providing solutions that make a positive impact on society.”

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the spring issue of ArcNorth News, Esri Canada’s customer magazine, will focus on the company’s three decades of success. Customers and partners are also invited to celebrate with the company at the 2014 Esri Canada User Conferences, which will be held in 16 Canadian cities throughout the year.

Esri Canada logo

About Esri Canada

Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography.  The company distributes the world’s leading GIS software from Esri, Schneider Electric, Cityworks – Azteca Systems, Inc. and other technology partners.  Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada.  Esri Canada has joined the elite rank of Canada’s Best Managed companies and has been named to the Branham300.  Information about the company can be found at esri.ca.

 

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 …

Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites - 'Bing Maps vs Google Maps'

Online web mapping for most people is still a relatively new concept; however it has actually been around now for many years now, long enough that a good majority of us now take it for granted. And like many other great products from our modern society there are always various versions or brands that tend to shine and become more popular than the others.

They have evolved so much over the past few years that I am sure you have noticed that even more people have them with them everywhere they go via, GPS navigation units, net books, tablets, smart phones and other portable devices. And hopefully you have already discovered the web mapping section on CanadianGIS.com about the many great Canadian online web maps that are out (and grows every month) to help make our lives easier.

 Ottawa - Ontario - Google Maps View 1I remember when I first started out in GIS, how it was always challenging to explain to people what I did for a living (and that I did not actually just make the road maps they bought at the gas station).

Now days it has been much easier to explain to people what GIS is thanks to the rather recent increased knowledge about GIS and Geomatics due to more people using the basic free online mapping services like Google or Bing Maps.

Therefore I thought it was time to look at perhaps the two most common free mapping services that most of use all the time to see, how they compare to one another and how they have evolved over the past few years.

 Google Maps – maps.google.ca

So I will start off with Google Maps since I am sure most of us have come across a map generated in google or a website using Google before.

Google Maps is a web mapping service that powers many online map-based services, such as the main Google Maps website, Google Ride Finder, Google Transit, and embedded maps on thousands of websites that use Google Maps API.

Google Maps as we know it know started off as a little C++ program designed by two brothers Lars Rasmussen and Jens Rasmussen from the company Where 2 Technologies. Originally it was a stand-alone program that you needed to download and was not a web based product like it is today. In 2004 Google acquired their company and then transformed the mapping software into an interactive web application.

The first version released in 2005, was based on raster tiles organized into quad tree schematic layouts with the data loading done via XML & HTTP requests. Google uses JavaScript to serve the map data into your browser application. Perhaps the big thing that made Google’s product stand out from the others was when they provided code that allowed other users to integrate maps into their own websites (e.g. CanadianGIS.com).

Vancouver - Google Street View 1

Google Maps offers street maps, and a routine planner that can be configured for the method you are traveling (whether it is by foot, car, bike, or via public transportation). It also has an urban business locator for numerous countries in the world.

In 2007, they added Streetview, which provides users with a 360° captured view of streets in most major towns and cities. Basically a system was designed with multiple cameras that were mounted to the roof of vehicles that could capture data on all sides of the vehicles as the vehicle drove down the street.

Some areas are obviously covered better than others, but the project continues so more areas are covered as time goes on. They also incorporate satellite imagery and aerial photography in many places as well (whenever data sets are available); with the ability to produce quick Hybrid style maps containing map layers, labels and imagery fused together into one mapping product.

The Google Maps application has been pretty rock solid providing others the ability to show case their own mapping data without the need of purchasing high-end GIS mapping software.

Next up will be Microsoft’s Bing Maps. Click Here to continue reading …

 

GeoGeeks Fraser Valley Group

Fraser Valley

The GeoGeeks Fraser Valley Group is for those interested in spatial related things and for those who are interested in sharing that passion with others through spatial technology.

“Perhaps you like to develop custom solutions and understand APIs and programming or you’re just someone who has a use for web mapping. The Fraser Valley is on the outskirts of most of the existing mapping organizations and we want to build our own community.”

There is so much that cab be learned and shared from one another: open data, open street mapping, open source software, new technology and techniques, and more. So if you are in the Fraser Valley  area then you should get together, network  and support one other!

See check out the groups meeting page for a calender of events and to get in contact with people of this group.

[image soure: GeoGeeks FV group]

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 3)

 Click Here to go to the start of this article or 

Click Here to go back to part 2

This is part 3 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Vancouver - Bing Slide ViewBing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

Location Search Accuracy

Both have done a great job utilizing spatial database data to provide a better accurate search, although sometimes you may find one does a better job over the other in different areas (with no real reasoning of why). Also the more information you have to provide (e.g. adding postal code) in your search then obviously the better your results will be.

Both map services offer driving directions that can be easily achieved by stating a start and end point. Driving directions that I have tested with both services were usually pretty accurate with estimated travel times based on mode of transportation provided by both has been pretty good as well.

Satellite Image Resolution

Imagery data sets for both services vary from place to place but overall it seems that Bing Maps uses newer and better quality satellite images than Google Maps does. Bing Maps images are generally about a year old (about 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps was recently added by Microsoft), where Google Maps images have an average of about 2 to 3 years old. With Bing Maps, you can also zoom in closer than with Google Maps (if the data exists).

Bird’s-eye View of Bing Maps offers a 3D view of buildings in major cities (mostly in the USA) and many places that are not highly (like most parts ofCanada) populated will not have any higher resolution imagery and only basic larger scale Landsat data will be provided. Sometimes Google imagery does not flow well together, mixing dark and light data sets and some with clouds and other obstructions (usually a pet peeve for anyone who works in Remote Sensing) . However both vendors provide better imagery as they obtain it so aerial imagery in various areas is constantly changing.

In a bid to keep up with its arch mapping rival, Microsoft is taking on Google Maps in the high-resolution space with a 215 terabyte update of Bird’s Eye imagery.

Microsoft has piled on another 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps, less than a month after it dished out a massive 165 terabyte cache of mapping data to the service. [source: news.cnet.com ]

          Bing Slide View CoverageGoogle Street View Coverage

Streetside View vs. Streetview

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps have street-level views, where there is a panoramic view taken from the top of a car and stitched together so it looks like you were standing there. Bing’s “Streetside view” shots are clearer, with higher resolutions and more features (such as Flicker and Photosynth) integrated into the viewing experience. Bing’s Worldwide telescope integration is a feature that allows viewers to look up to view the night-time sky above them. Google’s streetview also has a “user images” feature that offers more photos than Bing does, but they are presented as a slide shoe, instead of being layered as they are with Bing. Google’s Streetview is worthy of an honorable mention because of the numbers of areas around the world that it has captured.

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Maps

 Summary

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps offer effective web mapping platforms with very similar yet unique features . Bing tends to have better features and tools integrated into it, and can operate smoother than Google Maps but their coverage of data in Canada is relatively pretty weak.

Both have great features to offer but neither one seems to really fully out shine the other over all, witch in a way can be a good thing as these two web giants continue to go head to head providing us with more free web mapping tools to make our every day lives better.

I myself tend to use Google Maps more perhaps out of habit from being a big Google Earth user, but can honestly admit I do go back and forth between the two mapping applications  depending on what I am using them for. ArcGIS now offers Bing products as free base maps for ArcMap layouts so that certainly has increased my Bing maps usage.

For example, I find that Bing does a better job of providing names of streets and rivers and the Bird’s Eye imagery always provides more than one view of an object (although not available for many places in Canada). And a lot depends on the imagery of data that is available in the area I am working with, so I tend to sometimes check both to see which one is better.

And actually someone has come up with a web application that provides both mapping applications in the same window for times when you want to compare (http://www.jonasson.org/maps/). So go ahead and check out these two popular free web mapping applications and then leave some comments about witch one you prefer over the other.

Maps - Bing Maps vs Google Maps

References

Microsoft – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/bing/ff808582.aspx

Google – http://support.google.com/maps/?hl=en

Wikipedia. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Maps & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Maps

 

 

 

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 2)

 Click Here to go back to the start of this article

This is part 2 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Bing Maps – maps.bing.ca

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Street View 1

Bing Maps is Microsoft’s web mapping service provided as a part of their Bing suite of search engines and powered by the Bing Maps for Enterprise framework. Originally called Microsoft Virtual Earth, the first version was released in 2005.

In 2010 a fully overhauled design for the default view was launched as well as adding dynamic labels. Bing optimizes the power of the Silverlight engine combined withAJAXto serve the map data into your browser application.

It offers street maps, featuring road view, aerial view, bird’s-eye view, streetside view (with geo-tagged photos from Flickr and Photosynth integration), and 3D view (as an add-on), driving directions, and several different map apps.

The Bird’s Eye imagery feature provides end-users with high-resolution, oblique look angle imagery in four different look-directions providing a different visual context appealing to many spatial tasks. This neat feature allows you to look at an object from one angle and then spin your screen around and see the same object from a different perspective.

Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 2Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 1

Bing Maps provides traffic information and ClearFlow traffic data, as well as allowing users to share maps and embed them into their websites. Other features include people, location, and business search functions, and satellite imagery (“Bing Maps,” 2011; Pike, 2010).

Table 1

Top Features of Bing Maps and Google Maps

Bing Maps

Google Maps

Road, Satellite, Bird’s-eye views

Road, Satellite, Terrain views

Streetside view, with Flickr and Photosynth picture overlays

Streetview

3D models ofU.S.cities

Panorama Integration

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

Mobile Map apps

Bird’s Eye imagery

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

 

Washington Bing Street View 1Washington Google Street View 1

 

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Bing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

 Click Here to continue reading … or Click Here to go back to the start of this article