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SDI Snapshot - October 2017

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada and globally in the world of Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). This post contains a collection of the latest and most significant SDI news, data, products, and events.

SDI News

Environment and Climate Change Canada provides interactive maps on environmental indicators

The interactive maps enable users to quickly explore Canada's local and regional environmental indicators. Users can configure the interactive maps to any province, major city or postal code region of Canada. Indicators include air quality, air pollutant emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, releases of harmful substances to the environment, water quantity and water quality.

Canada speaks up at UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management

The seventh session of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was recently held with almost 400 delegates from circa 90 countries and international organizations active in the field of geospatial information management.  The Canadian government representatives at UN-GGIM were from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Statistics Canada. Prashant Shukle, Director General of the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, spoke of the importance and the role of open data.

Federal Airborne LiDAR Data Acquisition Guideline (2017)

As part of the Federal Floodplain Mapping Guidelines series, the Government of Canada has released the “Airborne LiDAR Data Acquisition Guidelines”. The intention of these guidelines is to provide the minimum specifications that lead to consistent airborne LiDAR data acquisition across all levels of government in Canada, as well as to improve international cooperation with the United States along areas of cross-border data collection.

City of Edmonton tops the Open Cities Index ranking for 2017

Now in its third year, the Open Cities Index launched in 2015 as Canada’s first study to benchmark municipal open data initiatives across the country. The 2015 edition of the Open Cities Index included 34 of Canada’s largest municipalities, with the City of Edmonton securing the number one spot in the inaugural ranking. This year, the Open Cities Index includes 61 municipalities, with 9 brand new participating communities. For the third year in a row, the City of Edmonton has grabbed the top spot in the Open Cities Index ranking, claiming once again the title of “Canada’s Most Open City”.

SDI Data

Building Canada 2020 — a community-led initiative to map all buildings in Canada by 2020

Statistics Canada is leading a new initiative to improve existing georeferenced data on buildings across all communities in Canada. The project is an opportunity to explore new forms in co-production of open data. Simple building information such as geolocation, building footprint, full civic address, and type of use is of major societal value. This information, however, is often lacking in some areas or not completely accessible on a single open data platform.

Open Data Areas Alberta – earth observations for land and resource management.

Management of land, water and natural resources to meet social, economic and environmental outcomes is a priority in many jurisdictions. In Alberta, Cumulative Effects Management (CEM) frameworks, such as Integrated Resource Management (IRM), are being implemented to enable sustainable land and resource management.  Technologies that enable more accessible, timely, scalable, interoperable and science-based data upon which governments and stakeholders can base informed decisions are foundational for the success of any CEM/IRM initiative. Earth observation (EO) data and technologies meet this need, and form an integral part of the spatial data infrastructure needed to support these approaches.

U.S. Senate passes OPEN Government Data Act

The U.S. Senate has passed the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, a bill aimed at providing a government-wide mandate requiring federal agencies to publish their information as open data. The Act still needs to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and then be signed into law by the president.

SDI Products

What’s new in ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online was recently updated with many new features and enhancements. This is a relatively minor update, but includes a few key new features, and enhancements throughout the ecosystem. These include enhancements and improvements to: Map Viewer, Scene Viewer, Living Atlas, Story Maps, configurable apps, Web AppBuilder, apps for the field, apps for the office, and other enhancements.

DataBC continues to grow open data offerings

The BC Data catalogue helps users to find, understand and explore data. The catalogue also provides contact information so that data users can contact Data Custodians for additional information if required. Data, APIs and applications registered and presented through the BC Data Catalogue are managed and provided by Data Custodians from across the broader public service. DataBC helps the province manage data as an asset and enables public servants and citizens to share and use data.

SDI: Think ‘adaption’ and ‘cultivation’ rather than ‘construction’

While recent advances in geospatial technologies offer great promise, the specifics of whether and how data and information are used too often remain a black (magic) box; spatially enabled decision-makers are a bit like idealized unicorns. Without a keen knack for navigating political and administrative influences, spatial enablement can at times seem like the stuff of magic and unicorns – a fantasy. Simply creating and providing useful information does not mean that it will be used, or used wisely. Similarly, a ‘partnership framework’ for spatial data infrastructure (SDI) can seem like a mythical item.

About the Author

Gordon Plunkett is the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Director at Esri Canada. He has more than 30 years of experience in GIS and Remote Sensing in both the public and private sectors. He currently sits as a member of the Community Map of Canada Steering Committee, GeoAlliance Canada Interim Board of Directors, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Technical Committee, the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) Committee on Geomatics, the University of Laval Convergence Network Advisory Committee and the Advisory Board to the Carleton University Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre. During his career, Gordon has worked on projects in more than 20 countries and has contributed to numerous scientific conferences and publications. At Esri Canada, he is responsible for developing and supporting the company’s SDI vision, initiatives and outreach, including producing content for the SDI blog.

Profile Photo of Gordon Plunkett