Category: Technology

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Posted on August 15, 2017
Have you ever felt lost when someone started talking about precision agriculture?  When people think about a GIS intensive environment, they probably imagine a bustling office where the inhabitants are using technology (i.e. their computers) to enhance their clients or customers lives. It is not surprising then, that most of us often do not often associate GIS with farming. Using technology to grasp the utilization of a vast amount of crop land actually makes sense because technology is constantly being used to enhance every aspect of our lives. In the most simplistic terms, it is the way that location technology (i.e. Geographic...
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Posted on August 10, 2017
The Breaking News Last year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced that a year prior, one of their members (Süddeutsche Zeitung) had been sent the contents of a massive leak from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. This leak revealed that for years the firm had been helping people and companies all around the world avoid taxes by channeling wealth through overseas shell companies, most notably in the British Virgin Islands and Bahamas. The clients came from over 100 countries, including Canada. CBC and the Toronto Star are the two Canadian members of the ICIJ and both produced some stories in the...
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Posted on August 8, 2017
Every summer in British Columbia, along with long days, sunshine, heat, and little rain comes an all-too-familiar reality: hundreds of wildfires. Some of them affect only uninhabited regions in BC, but many threaten communities, property, pets, livestock, and human lives.  During the fire season it is critical that accurate, relevant and adequate fire information be available to the public. People affected by wildfires need to get information quickly. These people include residents in evacuation areas, travellers, municipal government personnel, and emergency crews.  Unfortunately, there are many sources of fire-related...
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...
Access to timely and quality health care is an important determinant of health and well-being. Despite universal health coverage in Canada, there exists socio-demographic, financial and physical geographic barriers that limit the accessibility to health care resulting in health disparities across the population. The ability to link administrative health and census data to small or large geographic areas facilitates the study of such health disparities and can provide guidance for overarching policy and/or targeted intervention. A great example of this can be found in a research article entitled Spatial Accessibility to Health Care...
Last week, I attended the Earth Observation (EO) Summit in Montreal. It was a gathering of over 600 people from 22 countries with backgrounds ranging from researchers and students, to commercial industry and government representatives from various agencies. It was an exceptional event that brought together the 38th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing (CSRS), the 17th Congress of the Association Québécoise de Télédétection (AQT), the 11th Advanced SAR (ASAR) Workshop and the 51st Workshop of the Association de Géomatique Municipale du Québec (AGMQ). My supervisor, Dr. Derek Robinson, from the University of Waterloo, was presenting...
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Posted on June 26, 2017
Grand Lake Meadows (GLM), the largest wetland in New Brunswick. GLM is a historically and ecologically significant area which is ecologically diverse and home to an abundance of wildlife, due in part to the extensive floodplains, presiding water levels and the presence of Grand Lake. Given the relatively flat terrain in this area, elevation range of 14m (Figure 1), and recent open access to elevation data, it was of interest to evaluate the accuracy of elevation data available from numerous online sources, including Esri, Google and Bing. Specifically, the tested elevation data sets offer data through Representational State Transfers...
As much a science as an art; cartography makes one wonder how the artist or mathematician-cum-geographer captured the most finite of cartographic details. Ancient maps are fascinating and inspiring. In this article I will discuss a number of interesting examples of cartography through a collection of ancient and historic maps. Claudius Ptolemy's Geography (150 AD) The Ptolemy world map is known worldwide and is based on the book named Geography written by Claudius Ptolemy in the 150th century. By close inspection one can see the lines of longitudinal and latitudinal. The Ptolemy map identifies earthly locations by heavenly...
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...
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Posted on June 1, 2017
A couple of months ago the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) sought public comment [1] on the new version of GeoPackage Encoding Standard [2]. GeoPackage is an emerging format for geospatial data. Officially introduced three years ago, GeoPackage has already attracted the interest of organizations and vendors in N. America and elsewhere. The wide GIS community seems to still ignore its existence; however, this is expected to change drastically within the next few years.  Was there a need for a new format? What was new with GeoPackage? Was there a need for another format? The main objective of GeoPackage developers has been to create...
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