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Modernizing Information Management in the Government of Canada

Modernization efforts include empowering staff with the tools and training needed to leverage and share data to support the delivery of services to and to make decisions.

Treating data as a strategic asset to improve the services provided to Canadians is a key theme of the Government of Canada data strategy. Modernizing how this information is collected, shared, and managed, while balancing the needs for privacy, will be a key priority for years to come.  

Enterprise systems like ArcGIS enable the rapid exchange of data between systems and between government departments. These departments often operate in complex environments with technology implementations that are a mix of point solutions and custom applications that are often bolted on in stages.  

Perhaps more important, ArcGIS provides a set of tools that will enable a more robust and scalable data infrastructure. Many government departments continue to rely on Office products (email, PDF & Word documents, speadsheets, etc.) that are difficult to scale and often limited to department silos. 

“I’m working with a federal department that conducts joint operations. Previously, they were experiencing huge delays because of inefficiencies in how data was processed and distributed throughout the organization,” said Lexxi Clement, GIS Consultant, Esri Canada. “Approvals could drag on for weeks before they could be pushed up the chain of command because a PDF was lost in someone’s inbox. We worked with them to revamp their information flow, enabling commanders to make more timely decisions about ongoing operations, and also resource planning and funding priorities.”  

identify data and business requirements

Leveraging real-time data for analytics

Defence and Security organizations are increasingly relying on web-based tools to share information and enhance situational awareness. Web GIS gives these users a way to integrate data and intelligence across multiple networks.

Zach Simard, Captain, Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), explains: “We’re making data an operational asset where all tactical level information is collected close to the edge and then processed for strategic decision making.”

For organizations with complex workflows and a multi-step approval process, cloud and mobile tools are indispensable. They transform the process from pushing a document through a pipe, to bringing people to the document.

Mission Manager Field Reports GeoMessages

Data collection, accessible from anywhere

Deploying field apps helps to provide a common operating picture. Field apps utilize a database structure that integrates into mission systems. Once data is captured through any device, the geodatabase becomes the force multiplier, enabling analysts or managers to make use of authoritative data for their own purposes.

Survey123 optimizes data collection through smart forms:

  • Reduces duplication of entries, saving time and clicks
  • Eliminates data errors for cleaner reporting
  • Enables quicker review of the operating environment
  • Operates in disconnected mode for offline use
  • Transforms the process for work audits and approvals

specialized data collection for operational awareness

One common example using field data in the geodatabase is to power a dashboard. With field apps, data collection is happening all the time. Deployed teams could be filling in their reports sitting in an aircraft enroute to another mission. This data can be served via a dashboard to a command centre, where all data can be filtered, reviewed, and managed for action.

ArcGIS Dashboards can be categorized in four types:

arcgis dashboards

And because Dashboards leverages ArcGIS data, anyone can link back and interrogate the field collected data. With Dashboards, organizations are able to manage their missions within a single view inside a web-based portal.

ArcGIS can be deployed in an air-gapped environment, behind firewalls, and accessed through web services that meet the organization’s security requirements.

Visualizing a network of data 

Location data can also be leveraged to create targeted all-source intelligence products. This includes:

Analysts can use vast quantities of cell phone records, financial transactions, and even AIS ship location data to solve complex problems programmatically.

Movement Analysis

In many government organizations, it is common for detailed analytical information to be shared in briefings using PowerPoint decks or Word documents. However, these documents become out-of-date quickly. ArcGIS users overcome this challenge using web GIS to allow any user in an organization to consume or publish dynamic spatial data as new information emerges. 

Taking a geographic approach and adopting more modern information management practices enables Government of Canada decision makers to view their data as an asset that can be more easily leveraged, updated and shared. Literally hundreds if not thousands of workflows and processes can be transformed and modernized using this business application framework.

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

About the Author

Jeff Hughes is Esri Canada’s District Manager for Defence and Security in the National Capital Region. He brings 25 years of experience in the GIS industry to help Defence, Intelligence and National Security organizations in highly secure environments leverage web GIS for situational awareness, incident pattern analysis and decision support. Prior to joining Esri Canada, Jeff spent 7 years in Redlands, California, working with Esri Inc. in the Professional Services Division.

Profile Photo of Jeff Hughes