Hello everyone! Unfortunately (or fortunately) it has been quite a long time since the last post, October 2014 to be exact. So much has happened since then that as it’s happening, it is hard to sit down and write about it. It’s like trying to write a history book as it is happening in real time (very difficult in my opinion).
Suffice it to say, all the events that have happened are positive and serve to build Geospatial Niagara’s reputation, and those who have worked with us, across the Niagara region, across Canada and around the world.
I’ll try to touch on everything within this post and in the coming weeks/months and do more justice to the stories. Maybe it’s time to hire a content writer…
So, let us begin in November…
The Day of Geography site was launched in late August of 2014 in anticipation of the first “Day of Geography” that was held on Monday, November 16. In conjunction with the online event Geospatial Niagara, along with representatives of the Brock University Geography program, the Brock University Geographical Society, the Niagara College GIS program and ESRI Education converged on Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School to promote geographic education and careers in geography and geospatial technologies. Over 120 students attended the event which was very well received by the students as well as the staff involved. We’re hoping that we can do this type of event at a number of schools during the year.
The purpose of the Day of Geography event is to engage with geospatial professionals from across Canada and around the world to post stories about their work day. What does an Urban Planner do? What does a Remote Sensing Analyst do? What does a GIS Server Administrator do? These posts are categorized and made available to students around the world for them to read to determine if the career they imagine is the reality.
We’ve all seen the descriptions of careers that are available with any number of educational backgrounds and these descriptions, for the most part are romanticized to a certain extent. Those career blurbs cut out the day to day work and concentrate on the star power skill. Not every day is consumed with a world changing project, not every project can be completed in an 8 hour work day.
How many students go into Forensic Investigation thinking that they will solve a major crime in one day just like CSI? How many students get into archaeology and go into the field thinking it’s like Indiana Jones? I know these may be simplistic examples but while they inspire striving to obtain these careers, what a let down it must be to get to your first lecture and the professor says, “Forensic Investigation is nothing like it is on TV”. We want to provide students real world examples of the careers, from the excitement of creating an interactive map, to the drudgery of meetings. We want to inspire, but we also want to be realistic.
Niagara College GIS – Geospatial Management Projects:
Geospatial Niagara commissioned three projects at Niagara College this year in order to provide valuable real world projects to students to sink their teeth into as consultants. Below is a brief synopsis of each project. If you would like any further information about these projects please contact us.
1) Niagara Minecraft Project:
Ever since seeing what the Ordnance Survey of Britain and the Danish Ministry of Environment did by converting all of their respective nations into a Minecraft Map, we thought how awesome would it be to convert Niagara spatial data to Minecraft as a means of engaging students at our local school boards the DSBN and the NCDSB, with the geography of Niagara through Minecraft.
Minecraft Niagara will be a 1:1 scale representation of Niagara’s elevation, roads, hydrology and wooded areas. The elevation data for this project was provided by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) all other data was downloaded from the Niagara Region Open Data Catalog.
How great would it be for students across Niagara to learn about the geography and geomorphology of Niagara through this Minecraft map? We hope to be able to run contests among the schools and students to show their creations.
The image above shows a test that was performed at a resolution of 50 meters. Student consultants Bogdan Oros and Adriana Ruiz have been utilizing ArcGIS and Safe Software’s FME to do the conversion. While researching a number of ways to do this, almost like the a rainbow after a storm, there was a webinar conducted by Safe Software about how to do what we needed to do, through FME.
When the project is complete, we need to determine how to deliver this to the students of the school boards as well as possibly making it available through other platforms such as Xbox and Play Station. An interesting option might be MinecraftEdu. We’ll need to explore this further.
It’s also come to my attention that the British Geological Survey did the same thing with the subsurface of Britain. Perhaps we will incorporate the bedrock geology of Niagara in a future release.
2) Vineyard Site Suitability of Grey County:
This project builds upon two other site suitability projects, Norfolk County and Elgin County. Using a multi-criteria analysis, Michael Daleo is determining the areas of High, Moderate and Low suitability for the establishment of vineyards in Grey County, Ontario. Some may be wondering about the feasibility of vineyards or wineries in Grey County. Currently there are two well known wineries located there, Coffin Ridge and Georgian Hills Vineyards. We hope to assist others in determining the higher suitability areas quicker, so more in depth analysis can begin. By no means are the results definitive due to the extreme variability of soils in Southern Ontario but the analysis allows for the narrowing of focus when determining suitable areas. The final results will of course need to be integrated with climatic information, greater soil analysis and land use information to find available properties to develop, or redevelop into vineyards.
The images above illustrate three of the nine parameters that are being utilized in the multi-criteria analysis.
We are looking forward to the results of this project and integrating them with the results from the previous years projects. What county will be next?
3) Niagara Aspiring Geoparks Project:
This is a project that has far reaching implications for Niagara, and we are very excited about the possibilities that this project brings, not only to sustainable economic development but also to geo-education. The Niagara Aspiring Geoparks Project is being undertaken by Eric Tincombe, Jessica Serravalle and Marcio Cruz.
What are Geoparks? That would be a whole new posting so please look into the “What is a geopark” page for in depth information.
In a nutshell, we at Geospatial Niagara believe that Niagara would make an excellent global geopark. Eric, Jessica and Marcio are gathering, compiling and analyzing information about Niagara in terms of geography, geology, tourism, amenities etc. They are laying the groundwork for making connections within Niagara to create the Niagara Aspiring Geoparks Working Group. This group would consist of local municipal/regional government representatives, economic development staff, volunteer organizations, such as the Niagara Peninsula Geological Society and representatives from Brock University and Niagara College to create the proposal application for official status as a Global Geopark.
There are currently four Global Geoparks in all of the western hemisphere, two of which are in Canada. Stonehammer Geopark and Tumbler Ridge Geopark (note audio begins immediately on this link), we believe that Niagara would make a great addition to the Global Geoparks network given our geology, history, culture, existing tourism and consevation infrastructure and assets such as Brock University and associated programs (Earth Science, Geography, Environmental Geoscience) and Niagara College (GIS, Environmental Studies).
4) Geospatial Niagara – Niagara College GIS Thesis Project Spatial Database:
The Thesis Project Spatial Database project was built by Matt Marotta as part of the 4th Year Honours Internship Program at Brock University. Matt has done previous work for Geospatial Niagara (The Elgin County Vineyard Site Suitability Project) and has become a valued member of our organization.
This project involve creating a database to collect and organize all of the past Thesis projects undertaken by students of the Niagara College GIS-Geospatial Management program. The information collected includes an abstract of the project, the year the project was completed, the students involved in that project, software utilized and the estimated costs of the project had real dollars been charged for its completion. We want to be able to illustrate the economic value of the geospatial industry in Niagara as well as showcase the work that is being done through the Niagara College GIS program.
Currently there are a limited number of projects in the database but we hope to increase that number throughout the summer.
5) Geospatial Niagara – Geospatial Industries Survey:
This is the second project that was part of the 4th Year Brock University Internship Program and was undertaken by Kayleen Hogan and John Bull. It involved the creation of a survey designed to collect information about the geospatial industry in Niagara. Initially limited in scope to a manageable two municipalities, other municipalities became involved.
Questions involved the number of employees, the kinds of software used, if they were familiar with the Brock and Niagara College programs as well as finding out if they were willing to hire interns or provide projects to future students in both programs. The survey is ongoing and we encourage other Niagara companies to contribute to the growth of the geospatial sector in Niagara.
To access the survey please click on the link provided. Geospatial Industries Sector Survey.
The heat map above illustrates the concentration of geospatial employment in Niagara based on the current number of surveys received. Our goal is to continue the survey, gather as much information as possible and to engage industries that utilize geospatial professionals but might not necessarily know that they do.
A further break down of the results will be included in a future posting.
6) treeOcode Niagara:
This project, after a number of years, has finally taken a giant leap forward. Using OpenTreeMap by Azavea, we are beginning to inventory the Urban Forest in Niagara’s 12 municipalities. Originally OpenTreeMap was available as software that could be downloaded through Github and implemented locally. The challenge with this was in finding someone with the skills to install the software before even being able to put together the database. Eventually, OpenTreeMap moved to the cloud and a SaaS model. This made it so much more accessible and easier to implement since you didn’t need to find a PhD in computer science.
2015 will be spent collecting data, making connections within the community from a funding perspective and gathering volunteers to assist us in collection of the data. We’d like to bring it to the attention of the local school boards as a means of engaging students about the importance of the Urban Forest Canopy.
There are an incredible number of benefits associated with this project including environmental, educational, economic as well as social benefits of active participation from the community and could also easily become an extensive post on its own. All data that is collected will be available as Open Data for use in other projects as well as research.
If you’re in Niagara and are interested in participating in the treeOcode project click the link and register. We need to put an extensive volunteer team together to promote and manage the project and are seeking those passionate about Urban Forests in Niagara. Please contact us.
7) The Carlin Report:
The Carlin Report is also an ongoing project that is currently a web application for the collection of incidents of Active Transportation Near-Hits between walkers, runners and cyclists and vehicles. More about The Carlin Report can be found here as I wrote a post about it back in November 2013. Please be advised however that the link in that article to the application is no longer accessible.
Geospatial Niagara attended the Niagara Active Transportation Summit held on March 4 & 5, 2015 in St. Catharines where we had a booth set up to showcase The Carlin Report and our other projects. The project was very well received and we made a number of connections to cycling groups as well as planning and transportation departments from a number of local municipalities.
We’re looking to expand the usability of The Carlin Report through such means as login through Facebook etc. Again, this is one of those projects where we’re needing some assistance in fleshing out what direction it is going as well as from the promotion standpoint. Plenty of opportunity!