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May’s GIS Ambassador: Stephanie Allison

This month’s GIS Ambassador is Stephanie Allison from the City of Burlington. Read about her involvement in the 2021 Skills Ontario GIS competition.

Stephanie Allison is May’s GIS Ambassador of the Month. We are thrilled to share her story of support in developing the Skills Ontario GIS competition question with us this year. Let’s find out more about this GIS professional from the City of Burlington, Ontario.

As a Transit Planner and Analyst, Stephanie is responsible for technical and analytical work related to transit planning and scheduling. Her work assists the city in making informed decisions that will impact the citizens of Burlington.  She was the perfect person to support the Skills Ontario transit related question we came up with this year.

In addition, Stephanie has a wealth of GIS knowledge through her past work experiences starting with her work as a co-op student at the City of Toronto in their Transportation Infrastructure Management section, Canadian Ice Services (Environment Canada) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as a Jr. Geographic Information Systems Specialist. After graduating from the University of Waterloo in a 5-year Honours Geography and Environmental Management Co-op program specializing in Earth Systems Science with an option in Geomatics, she worked at the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, the Town of Milton and then at the City of Burlington. 

Late last year, I was connected to Stephanie through her manager Catherine Baldelli with whom I worked with many years ago through my involvement in Skills Ontario. I was looking for help in the development of a transit question for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Within our first meeting, we figured out the focus of the question–An on-demand transit option for the citizens of Burlington. Stephanie provided me with guidance and the data required for the development of the question.

Every year, through the Skills Ontario GIS competition, secondary school students have an opportunity to challenge themselves in answering a real-world GIS question using ArcGIS. This year the first ever Skills Ontario virtual GIS competition was held on April 27th and Stephanie was one of the four judges who helped out.

Woman smiling and sitting at a desk.

Stephanie provided her expertise in ArcGIS analysis and transportation knowledge to the Skills Ontario GIS question and by judging the students' work on the day of the competition.

In this year’s GIS question, students were asked to use different types of analysis tools that ranged from creating joins to enriching data layers. The idea was to promote the use of the tools and to open up the students’ minds to thinking spatially and critically with ArcGIS.

Woman with long hair smiling.

As a Transit Planner and Analyst, Stephanie was the perfect person to support the Skills Ontario transit related question.

After a few months of working together, Stephanie and I tested and finalized the question. On the day of the competition, she provided insight to the judges on transit in Burlington and asked the students thought-provoking questions to encourage them think outside the box during the judging sessions. I appreciate the contribution she made to this important GIS opportunity for students in Ontario.

Recently, I asked Stephanie why she felt it is important to engage youth in GIS and she said, “being a GIS Ambassador is important for inspiring the next generation of GIS professionals, as technology is constantly evolving it is important to give students the tools and information to make powerful decisions.”

I look forward to working with her next year and wish her well in her new journey into motherhood. Stephanie’s plans are to return to work after a year of maternity leave and to continue supporting students and teachers in their use of GIS.  

Are you looking to connect with a GIS Ambassador before the school year ends or in the fall? Learn more about the GIS Ambassador Program and let us know if you have any questions.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

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