WOW!!! FIVE YEARS!!
In early January of 2013, I sent out invitations to a number of Niagara community members representing education – school boards and post secondary, business, non-profit and government to attend a round-table discussion that I had titled – “A Path to a Geospatial Economic Sector for the Niagara Region”. At this presentation and discussion I outlined my vision for promoting geography, geo-literacy, student and community engagement and the use of geospatial technologies and how, considering the assets that we have, we could develop and grow the geospatial sector in Niagara. It was all about education and how geography and associated technologies impacts everyone and especially the sectors that successive Regional governments talk about promoting… Agri-business, tourism, transportation & logistics etc. All of these are heavily informed by and rely on geospatial data. I saw an opportunity to promote the discipline of Geography across Niagara and to give back to my community in geographic ways and to essentially pay it forward hoping to inspire students in the same way a number of educators have inspired me to become a geographer – Mr. Gino Poloniato and Mr. Claus Cleve.
Here we are 5 years later, still going!
Geospatial Niagara has sponsored 20 projects through the Niagara College GIS/Geospatial Management Program and the Brock University 4th Year Honours Internship Program and has facilitated 8 more within the community.
In educational dollars these projects had a “value” of over $626,000 and “employed” 43 students over the course of five years. What this illustrates is the value of the sector to the economy in Niagara.
Geospatial Niagara created the treeOcode Niagara project with the goal of promoting the value of the Urban Forest Canopy in terms of the eco-benefits trees provide. To date, there are over 23,000 trees in treeOcode that provide over $1.5 million dollars in eco-benefits yearly. Our goal is to at least double the number of trees in the database for 2018 and to confirm the support and partnership with a local municipality early in 2018.
With the help of some amazing students from Niagara College, we created the Niagara Region Minecraft Project where we utilized geospatial data of Niagara and created initially a 1:1 scale Minecraft map of the Niagara region followed by a 1:10 scale version which included the geology of the Niagara region!
We’ve launched the Niagara Aspiring Geopark project where we are seeking a UNESCO Global Geopark designation for Niagara – 2018 is THE YEAR that we make a push for this – stay tuned for information about a meeting to be held in late January or early February – To keep informed join the Niagara Aspiring Geopark page on Facebook.
In five years, we’ve presented to and spoken with over 2000 students ranging from 7 years old all the way to Masters and PhD students about the importance of geographic education. We’ve met amazing teachers and parents at events like CONNECTED and the PIC Conference and have made countless community connections with great organizations like The Port Dalhousie Beautification and Works Committee, Fitzgerald Neighbours and Port Robinson Proud. The list is far too comprehensive to include in a limited blog post.
Day of Geography has continued to be strong, particularly on Facebook where the page has over 2000 likes. The Day of Geography site, since inception has had over 25,000 site visits from 156 countries and over 3700 cities from around the world.
Geospatial Niagara has become affiliated with Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, iHub Niagara and SPARK Niagara and look forward to growing these partnerships and forging new ones in 2018.
2017 marked the launch of the GeoNiagara Radio Show with Season 1 Episode 1 airing on 103.7 CFBU in January 2017. Season 2 began in September 2017 and will run to June 2018. For a complete listing of episodes click here.
Of course all of this could not have been accomplished without the help and assistance of the volunteers we’ve had over the years. From our student consultants to our outside volunteers, you have helped Geospatial Niagara grow and have stuck with me. From the bottom of my heart…… THANK YOU! THANK YOU for believing!
We look forward to 2018, celebrating our 5th Anniversary and continuing to grow!!