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Your Canadian GeoSpatial Briefing for May 14th: Arctic receiving station blocked by Canadian red tape; Mapping Services in Edmonton; Smart Cities Challenge; University CubeSat Projects; Great Canadian Geography Challenge; Calgary’s Empathic Cultural Map; GIS4Ag

Canadian Red tape costs industry millions

Image from NASA (CBC)

Norwegian company Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) has been waiting since 2016 for Ottawa to grant the operating license that will let them run their satellite ground receiving station in Inuvik, N.W.T. With the scientific community active in Inuvik and Canada’s associate membership in the European Space Agency (who provided KSAT’s funding for the project), it seemed the location was a perfect fit, but federal delays have KSAT and their partners wondering if they should simply take their developments elsewhere.

“Europe is losing data from its flagship series of satellites,” Rolf Skatteboe (president of KSAT) said. […] “We’ve had stations in 21 countries around the world and we’ve never seen anything like this before.” If Canadian bureaucracy can’t distribute the necessary licenses, we won’t be seeing many more space-based satellite companies opting to put their facilities in Canada.

Memorial and Aurora students given $200,000 grant to build a space satellite

The CubeSat Project, funded by the Canadian Space Agency, has given 15 university teams grants to build a breadbox-sized satellite to be launched from the International Space Station in 2020-21. As well as a thrilling opportunity for post-secondary students to construct, operate and conduct experiments as part of a real space mission, the project also enables the construction of the very first Earth observation satellite in the province of Newfoundland by the students of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN).

Aurora College students will build their satellite in partnership with Yukon College and the University of Alberta; it will carry art, Indigenous language stories to be broadcast back to earth, while Memorial’s satellite will measure sea ice parameters from space and augment the remote sensing capacity already developed at MUN.

Telling small stories with Big Data and Maps

Image by Lynda Sea (University of Calgary)

Suzanne Goopy is a visual anthropologist, registered nurse and associate professor at the University of Calgary who is using data to understand newcomer experiences. In April 2018 she launched the Empathic Cultural Mapping (ECM) project, an online interactive tool that visually presents data from Statistics Canada, Calgary Police Service, the City of Calgary and other published sources alongside the personal stories of six people who have settled in Calgary. The stories that are illuminated include that of Ali, who fled the Syrian civil war to arrive in Forest Lawn—in the middle of winter, without English or a car. Goopy used ECM to look at the realities faced by newcomers like Ali and his family when they land in Calgary. The creators of the ECM hope that by bringing together demographics, community development, and transit maps and data they can create what Gooper calls an “empathic cultural map”, which will lead the way to creative solutions for newcomers.

Says Goopy: “By locating small stories within the big data and big data beside the small voices of individuals, I hope the ECM can show us the human implications of things that are often thought of in abstract terms.”

Needs Support: Some Canadian Agricultural Geospatial Data available for the first time

The Canada Land Initiative and National Soil Database hold massive volumes of valuable agriculture information that is available for the first time thanks to agronomist Simon Knutson. By putting the information into a format accessible on iPad, iPhone and Android, Knutson has made the mapping data available for crop consultants, farmers, land assessment and real estate professionals—all on his own dollar.

“This cost is currently coming out of my pocket. I don’t want to pull these soil maps down, but if I can’t at least recoup the costs, then I’ll have no choice,” said Knutson, who is only able to support the GIS4Ag website through voluntary donations. The service has a GPS feature, making the service convenient, fast and user-friendly as well as free.

Map Power: As Baby Boomers age, Edmonton’s outer communities are left behind

In a study conducted by Kristen Knudskov of the University of Alberta, Edmonton’s city core was found to be the most accessible for seniors while neighbourhoods on the outskirts—where the majority of seniors are located—lack resources and essential services. Based on five categories (housing, pedestrian and transit networks, social opportunities, perceptions of safety, and essential services/amenities) Knudskov hopes that urban planners could find ways to make neighbourhoods on the perimeter of Edmonton better equipped for residents to age and thrive in their own homes. The project, undertaken for an advanced GIS course, advocates for a more equitable distribution of infrastructure and features that affect quality of life.

Smart Cities Challenge jury announced

Image from Infrastructure Canada

Jury members to decide on the finalists of the Smart Cities Challenge have been announced!

The Smart Cities challenge supports innovation and encourages communities across the country to develop smart cities initiatives that produce inclusive and accessible cities. The jury includes business leaders, designers, urban planners, Indigenous leaders and engineers. Three winning communities will be selected for three prizes of up to $50 million, and announced in spring 2019.

Big win for Peterborough students in Great Canadian Geography Challenge

They could be our next generation of mappers and GIS specialists.

Canadian Geographic’s Great Canadian Geography Challenge contest aims to engage students up to grade 10 in geography and world events. Younger winners receive a certificate, medal and subscription to the magazine, while older competitors have the chance to compete in provincial, national and international challenges. This year Edmison Heights Public School, where the program was originally begun by Luc Labelle a decade ago, produced Grade 6 winner Sydney Reesor.

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