About GIS Program Langara CS

The Langara GIS program writes a monthly series on topics related to Open Source GIS for Everyone, by Rick Davidson and Jim O’Leary, Continuing Studies (CS) instructors at Langara College in Vancouver, B.C. This column will focus on QGIS and other Free and Open Source GIS Software, especially as it is used in Langara’s Geographic Information Systems CS Certificate program.

Posts by GIS Program Langara CS

On July 7, 2017 a series of devastating wildfires began in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. The effects of these wildfires will take much time and many resources to make recovery. GIS can have an important role in such a project. GIS can: Help managers to make real time decisions in rapidly changing conditions Provide spatial information to the public Feed data to fire-fighters in the field through mobile devices Identify damage and help plan for recovery One useful tool that GIS provides is a swipe map. This map shows one area in two maps side by side. One side represents the “before” scene of an event such as a...
Flow mapping is a technique to visualize movement of objects of interest between geographic areas. Typical uses of flow maps could be traffic volume, trade balances, or migration. In this article we create flow maps to visualize migration flows between provinces in Canada. In QGIS, the FlowMapper plugin provides functionality for flow mapping. The plugin wraps low level functions from Python modules such as PyQt4 to generate an interface and perform calculations that would take most of us a lot of time to do without such a plugin. Like many Open Source programs, the plugin was developed by someone who saw a need and used their skills to...
In 1927 a Vancouver bylaw was enacted that limited the height of buildings to a maximum of six stories in height over much of the West End of the city, as illustrated in the Zoning Plan map, from 1930. One of the reasons for this bylaw was to continue to provide downtowners an unobstructed view of the water and mountains for which Vancouver is so famous.     The six story limit has long been surpassed, but the City has managed to hang onto 27 protected views, which are called “view corridors” to preserve the remaining views of the North Shore Mountains, the Downtown skyline, and the surrounding...
This is the first of two articles on the release of ParcelMap BC Data, which we see as a significant event in the movement towards Open GIS Data in Canada. This month we’ll cover the background and take a quick look at what type data is available in the dataset. In our next article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the structure of the data and metadata, and provide an example or two of ways to use it, along with some suggestions for possible future applications. On November 9, 2016 the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) and the BC Government announced the start of a program to release ParcelMap BC (PMBC) data,...
Posted on October 31, 2016
There has never been a time in the history of GIS when so much free, high quality data has been available. As an example, the WorldClim site (http://www.worldclim.org/) offers temperature raster data, on a global scale, at resolutions as high as 30 arc seconds (roughly 600m x 900m pixels at the 49th parallel). The raster datasets cover minimum temperature, maximum temperature, average temperature, precipitation, and bioclimatic variables. This last dataset includes nineteen derived variables such as mean temperature of wettest quarter and precipitation of wettest and driest month. The Worldclim website has very brief explanations of...
As the 2016 United States presidential election careens towards its conclusion in November, GIS plays a prominent role in both planning political strategy and in describing the results of the contest. Media outlets create maps and graphs to predict outcomes and to describe campaign activities, while political parties use specialized election software to help them aggregate data and to plan their various initiatives. Commercial GIS vendors are well aware of the thirst of political parties for mapping capabilities and tout the strategic value of obtaining and understanding every tidbit of geospatial information. ESRI offers...
Posted on July 6, 2016
Of all the pleasant events that happen in spring, crow attacks rank at the bottom of the pile. Crows become aggressive as the fledgling crows hatch, and attack anything that passes near the nest – humans, dogs, cats, squirrels, pigeons. This spring we (Rick and Jim) decided to tackle the crow problem with a little GIS. We created the CrowTrax map. This interactive web map allows victims of crow attacks to report the details of the attack.       When the user clicks on the map at the location where the attack occurred, a form pops up and prompts the user to select the severity on a scale of 1 to 5 and then...
One of the passions of modern day information technologists is to convert the past to digital form and to put it on display. To this end the City of Vancouver recently completed a large project to digitize a large portion of its holdings. The result includes 250,000 records from the old management database, 74,000 photographs, and most importantly for GIS enthusiast, 4,000 maps dating from the late 1700s to the present day. What can you do with a scanned map from 1877? How about georeference it to a modern day Google map? You will then get a unique comparison of the past with the present and gain insights into the...
We typically think of a GIS as features on a map with a maximum of three dimensions: Longitude Latitude Height However, there is another dimension that we can add to features, and that is time. Adding the dimension of time to a feature lets us look at the feature as it exists in different intervals, for example, days, weeks, months, or years. For example, how does the temperature of selected cities in British Columbia change over the course of a year? This might help you to determine where to spend your next summer or winter vacation. Time as a     dimension of a feature is implemented in QGIS through the splendid...
Back in 2006 I (Jim) was a student at BCIT and a Vancouver resident, eager to obtain some local data for a project. I sent a hopeful email to City of Vancouver (COV) requesting the data I needed. The manager of the GIS branch sent me a timely reply, but solemnly informed me that the City did not give out its data for free. If I was interested, I could contact the appropriate department and make a purchase of the data. “Hmm, that doesn’t seem quite right. I’ve already paid for that data through my taxes” I thought-- and I proceeded to digitize a rough facsimile of the data and Vancouver’s street network by hand, as many others...