A Treasure Chest of Data

February 28, 2020 Paul Heersink

The Community Map of Canada and the Living Atlas of Canada are warehouses of great data, contributed by authoritative sources in the GIS community across the country and around the world. This community contributed data is then curated, assembled and published to the cloud for all to use. These datasets are also continuously updated by Esri Canada with the latest information from the same authoritative sources.

The Community Map of Canada is a basemap containing all the fundamental data layers important to mapping and analysis – including cultural (man-made) features such as roads, addresses, buildings, boundaries, properties, and natural features such as rivers, lakes, landmarks, hills and valleys. These base layers provide the foundation for virtually all GIS applications. They locate, position and provide context for almost all other data including where people live, work and play and how we interact with the natural world. 

But perhaps more importantly, base mapping is critical to reliable decision-making. Omissions, mistakes or inconsistencies in a basemap can lead to costly errors, lost time, and frustration.

The reality is that most basemaps contain errors and omissions, and there are substantial differences in the way the data is portrayed. The Community Map solves many of these problems by collecting the data from authoritative sources across the country as it changes and producing an updated map each day. When discrepancies inevitably show up, the relevant data is returned to the authoritative source for correction. To foster the best possible base data, The Community Map program publishes standards, data specifications and best practices guides to assist data authorities in the creation and maintenance of this critical data.

Accessing quality data is often the most challenging part of producing a good information product. The Living Atlas contains content that is published by users, partners and Esri worldwide. The content is curated to ensure that it originates from authoritative sources and is well documented. There are over 250 web maps, apps and layers for Canada on various topics such as the environment, infrastructure, people, basemaps and imagery. The critical topics of the day are covered, including pipeline corridors, flood mapping, demographic information, protected areas and climate change projects.

The Community Map of Canada and the Living Atlas of Canada are a tremendous free resource for anyone using mapping or developing GIS applications in Canada. To learn how to access these datasets, we invite you to join us for a live webinar on March 24. You will see how you can incorporate them into your workflow and applications.

Click here to register for The Community Map of Canada and the Living Atlas of Canada - Unlocking a Treasure Chest of Data webinar

About the Author

Paul Heersink

Paul Heersink is a cartographer and Production Manager of Esri Canada’s Community Maps Program: an initiative that is aiming to build a seamless topographic basemap using contributor data. He has over 15 years of cartographic experience, working in both the public and private sectors. Paul has always been interested in mapping and drew his own atlas at the age of 10. He took a detour in his career through the fields of psychology and social work before returning to cartography.

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