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City of Calgary Wins Award for Using GIS to Protect Its Urban Forest

The City’s quick response to a crisis becomes an opportunity to protect and maintain its urban forest

CALGARY, Esri Canada User Conference May 16, 2018 – The City of Calgary was given Esri Canada’s Award of Excellence today for using geographic information system (GIS) technology to both quickly clear away debris after a major storm and save major parts of their urban forest. The fast action taken by The City continues to have positive results. Calgarians are now more deeply engaged with local tree maintenance and city administration has a robust tool to help manage Calgary’s urban forest.

When a late-summer snow storm hit Calgary in September 2014, trees with full leaves held the snow, resulting in many broken trunks and fallen branches. Most of Calgary’s mature canopies were affected, including half of Calgary’s 500,000 public trees.

There were more than 9,000 emergency service requests to deal with broken trees and the City had to clear tree and debris from 227 communities. Already familiar with Esri’s ArcGIS platform, this emergency prompted The City to roll out Esri’s cloud-based mapping service, ArcGIS Online, and the field data collection app, Collector for ArcGIS. While the cleanup began, updated maps were published online once a day so residents could see where the cleaning crews were and how they were progressing. Since then the Collector app has been used extensively to help manage various aspects of tree care in Calgary.

“Because ArcGIS Online and Collector work well on mobile devices, City of Calgary staff had accurate information with which to work and Calgarians could see how quickly The City was dealing with the crisis.” said Alex Miller, president of Esri Canada.

“What the crisis taught us was that we could utilize ArcGIS Online to better manage our urban forest. Using the tool to keep our inventory up to date, we can better plan where to plant trees and when trees are pruned. We can also share that information with the public. For instance, someone can easily look up the city tree in their front yard, see what kind of tree it is, and find information on that type of tree through links to our City website,” said Nico Bernard, manager with the City of Calgary Parks department.

The City of Calgary continues to use the ArcGIS tools to help maintain inventory of the urban forest, and to help plan operations and maintenance of this important asset.

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About Calgary, AB
Calgary, the largest city in Alberta, is at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River, in an area of foothills and prairie, about 80 km east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city had a population of 1,239,220 in 2016, making it Alberta's largest city and Canada's third-largest municipality. Calgary is home to the second-highest number of corporate head offices in Canada and its economy includes activity in the energy, financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism sectors. For more information, visit:

About Esri Canada  
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower people in business, government and education to make informed and timely decisions by leveraging the power of mapping and spatial analytics. These solutions enable organizations to better manage their resources, plan their future and collaborate within and beyond their organization. Esri Canada’s products and services help advance successful digital transformation. The company serves 12,000 organizations from 16 offices across Canada and is based in Toronto. In 2015, Esri Canada became a Gold Standard winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and in 2016 was named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures. More information can be found at Follow Esri Canada on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.


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