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Esri Canada Community Maps Program: Why more communities need to take advantage of this

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The Community Maps Program (CMP) was introduced by Esri Canada in 2009 allowing organizations to share and host geographic data.  The CMP is accessible to public and private organizations and web users.  The platform for the program is a web application hosted by Esri Canada. The CMP is based on a web map user interface.

This resource promotes open data access to the public and works using a combination of public and private data sources. The CMP gives users access to pre-built templates and tools which give the user more ease of access to better edit and author the information. The system also features cloud-based GIS which provides  data storage on a secure server allowing organizations with no servers the same capabilities as groups with servers.

Using the Data communitymaps_map

The program connects all participants together in one national GIS. The advantages can be large for participants in the program.  For example a community in Ottawa can make a layer of insect infestations  data available on the Esri Community Map Program. A community near to Ottawa can grab the data and see if this infestation may affect them. The CMP can promote collaboration where there had been none before,  Too often data is tied up in “Silos” and unavailable for analysis. One of the benefits of the CMP is the collaboration between communities and the ability to look at information at a larger scale.

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City of Peterborough

The city of Peterborough has used the CMP with great success. Peterborough has leveraged the CMP and allowed it meet a number of internal and external challenges. Peterborough reduced the number of calls about data by putting it’s geographic data online using the CMP.

The city also needed to streamline workflows to better prepare for city meetings and ad-hock requests.  The city is now able to use the CMP web-based mapping program for some data management. This in turn has meant information is uploaded much faster and updated more rapidly. The city cited a usual two to three-week wait for the GIS department to provide a map for city meetings. Now, by using  the web-based map that time is shortened and turn around times for mapping requests reduced.

A critical area the city pointed out was a big win for them was using the program for the city’s traffic sign inventories.  These inventories usually require two to three summers to update, but with the CMP it was all done much faster shortening it to a summer.

Advantages & Potential

The advantages and potential for this program are broad, and cloud-based technologies  continue to grow in use.  Potential uses for this type of technology range from sharing forest fire information among provinces to giving cities the ability to coordinate  more effectively during a crisis.

To close out here is one last example of a possible use of the CMP. Officials in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia can see how officials in Victoria, British Columbia are tackling garbage collection issues, and apply that same analysis to the Valley.  The open information structure and ability to explore a diverse collection of data is a big benefit for anyone using the Community Maps Program.

The goal of the CMP is to provide communities greater access to data and also give people a broader view of information. This has been achieved with great success when looking at the range of communities accessing this service across Canada.

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