May’s GIS Ambassador: Karen Parker

May 19, 2020 Angela Alexander

Karen Parker from Edmonton, Alberta is this month’s GIS Ambassador. Find out what she did to get kids engaged in a mapping activity through discovering window art in their community.

May’s GIS Ambassador is Karen Parker, a Business Analytics Program Manager at City of Edmonton, Alberta. She leads the data science and analytics group in solving issues in the city using data.

Outside of her main role at the City, Karen’s taught K-12 students at the City Hall School about Edmonton’s Open Data and how it’s used to make important decisions in Edmonton.

The Parker family photo was taken by photographer Mike Isaak.

Last month, while working from home like many parents these days, Karen decided to create a fun educational activity to engage her kids. She noticed families across the city were displaying art on their front windows as a way to connect with others during this time of isolation, so she put together an app called the Edmonton Window Art Map. The purpose of this app is to allow families to add the location of their window art to a map and for others to discover them.

Edmonton Window Art Map - “I was looking for ways to keep my children occupied, but also for something we could do together as a family,” - Karen

“We will get through this together even if we are far apart” is the essence of the Edmonton Window Art Map.

This map centric app allows people to take “window walks” with their family to explore their community through art and to get some exercise and fresh air.

Kids exploring art in their community.

"It was cool to be able to see all the houses in our neighbourhood that are decorating their windows too."  - Robert Parker.

Something that was intended for the City of Edmonton, has now been used by people outside of Alberta. Locations of window art can be found in other places in Canada, the United States, and beyond.

Locations of window art have expanded beyond the City of Edmonton.

Through this activity, Karen’s kids learned how to use a map and learned about the intricacies of Edmonton's addressing system. This sparked an interest in her nine-year son Robert, who enjoys doing research projects. Karen plans to do a more in-depth project with Robert on something he’s interested in and include a geospatial component to it. Allowing him an opportunity to learn ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Even though Karen is not formally trained in GIS, she’s learned a lot working in the City of Edmonton's Analytics Centre of Excellence (ACE). She developed the window art app using ArcGIS Crowdsource Reporter, an ArcGIS product that local governments use.

K-12 educators who are interested in creating their own data collection activity, can access Survey 123 for ArcGIS through their ArcGIS Online account.

Thank you, Karen for sharing your work with us and setting up a fun activity for families to enjoy!

Read other inspiring GIS Ambassador stories and connect with one today. 

About the Author

Angela Alexander

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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