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Community Map of Canada Spotlight – Truro, Nova Scotia

Meet Amanda Bent, the GIS Analyst at the Town of Truro - located in central Nova Scotia, and a Community Map of Canada contributor since early 2020.

Getting Started with Esri

Amanda’s work with Esri Canada began in 2019 as the town sought new ways of engaging with their community. With a background in GIS, Amanda could see that having modernized mapping abilities and the power of location intelligence could help achieve Truro’s goals. She began exploring the idea of providing interactive online mapping capabilities through the town’s website.

The Town of Truro's GIS analyst, Amanda Bent, shares her experience thus far with the Community Map program

“Starting out we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do, so we dove right in and considered what was possible with ArcGIS Online,” says Amanda. “We started uploading our data and building interactive mapping applications, which we offered through our website. There was a learning curve but working with Esri gave us the training and support needed to deliver our apps. The more we learned, the more ideas we had!”

In a short amount of time Amanda was leveraging ArcGIS to create Truro’s business development applications, including “Properties for Sale or Lease app”, StoryMaps like their “2019 Year in Review”, and the “Interactive Truro” Hub. 

Shifting Focus to the Community Map of Canada

In March of 2020, the Town of Truro’s GIS plans were halted by the COVID-19 crisis. The town quickly shifted gears to address new challenges presented by the pandemic. “We had such great success with our online apps, we wanted to create something to help our community navigate through the pandemic,” Amanda shared. “I was introduced to the idea of the Community Map of Canada program by my account representative, Alice Jin, who helped brainstorm ways to approach the project and provided examples of what other communities were doing”.

The Community Map of Canada is a unique community-driven initiative, that uses authoritative data to create customizable basemaps and accelerates contributor’s geospatial initiatives, saving them time and resources.  The program is currently leveraged by over 200 communities across the country.

With the help of her Community Map contact, Lakshmy Vasanthamohan , the first step was to prepare Truro’s data against national standards. Previously, the town’s data existed in disparate forms and sources of information. With Community Map resources available to her Amanda was able to streamline the data and create Truro’s own basemap. “Creating our basemap was probably the fastest and easiest thing we’ve accomplished to date. Lakshmy was extremely helpful and uploaded all our data from our existing shapefiles.” Amanda was impressed at how effortless the process was for her as a contributor. “All I had to do was provide the shapefile for addresses, roads, trails and building footprints and everything else was taken care of. The time and resources this saved me is immeasurable!”

Boosting business with the #BuyLocalTruro app

Now armed with their own, authoritative basemap, Truro set its sights on helping local business through their COVID-19 recovery. “We wanted to create a tool to support our local businesses through the pandemic. We knew mapping out our local businesses and sharing how each was operating during the pandemic could be a useful tool for the public and our businesses and would also be a tool we could use to help promote a support local message,” says Amanda. “From this notion we created the #BuyLocalTruro app as a way to highlight our local establishments that were open for business during the pandemic.”

Standing up the app was a true collaboration with both Amanda and the Community Map team being home shored during the pandemic. “We built the app while exclusively working from home and using ArcGIS Pro to build the new datasets online. This was a huge achievement!”

Truro's #BuyLocalTruro app connects residents with local businesses during the pandemic.

Since its launch on April 17th, the #BuyLocalTruro app has gained popularity amongst the town residents, and really took off once local businesses and organizations started to share the app with their customers. “We invited local businesses to participate by continuing to expand and update the dataset by emailing us their information.”

To date Truro’s #BuyLocalTruro app has had almost 1000 visitors and promoted 120 local businesses.

Truro’s Plans for the Future

Going forward, Amanda plans to continue supporting her community with GIS based solutions. She is grateful for the collaboration and support she receives from the Community Map team, “Being the only tech at Truro, juggling all the different elements can be difficult at times so the assistance from the Community Map team was a great help.” Says Amanda. “It made everything so easy, and now I can create my online maps with our own current data!”

Wondering how your community can benefit from the Community Map of Canada program? We invite our francophone viewers to join us on September 29 for our introductory webinar: Laissez la carte communautaire du Canada faire le gros du travail géospatial and explore how your team can get started with the program.  

English speaking viewers can access our recorded webinar: The Community Map of Canada and the Living Atlas of Canada – Unlocking a Treasure Chest of Data to learn about our program.

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