Physical Geography

So….You Look at Rocks?

Hiking, camping and playing outside are my favourite childhood memories, and probably why I choose to study Geology. I love science and math, but being a biologist or chemist didn’t suit me. I wanted adventure, exploration and the ability to work outdoors. When you tell someone you’re going to study geology, it often follows by “Oh, how interesting…. what are you going to with that?”  or “So…. you look at rocks?” Over the past few years, these questions continue to bug me. There are so many jobs and directions you take with geography, geology or any of the geosciences. And yes, I do look at rocks, and yes they are amazing! The earth is billions of years old, dynamic, complex and full of resources, and it’s important that we understand these processes. This is why I followed my passion and finished an HBSc with a major in Geology at Lakehead University.

Rocks tell us the story of Earth’s history through their shape and chemical structures. And more importantly, they provide us with resources. If it can’t be grown and farmed, it has to be mined. So understanding how to find these resources and how they form is very important. But not only is it important, it’s fun to learn about too!

Some highlights during my four years, included a field trip to Alberta, which highlighted the processes of mountain formation, and the implications to the oil industry.  I also had the privilege of spending a whole summer working on a “Snowball” earth research project. The rocks we sampled and observed gave us clues about the environment 1.7 billion years ago, a time that scientists believe the earth was completely covered by ice. To conduct this research, I spent 2 months canoeing and camping in the interior lakes of Northern Ontario.

I also completed an honors thesis focusing on niobium mineralization and the importance of these critical metals.  To complete this work, I got to work with petrographic and scanning electron microscopes. My education was very rewarding and will allow me to go into exploration, mining, environmental sectors and many other specialized areas.

Currently, I have decided to continue my education by starting a Master’s degree at Queen’s University. This Master’s program will focus on the impacts mining has to the environment. I will study windblown tailings as a source of contaminants to surface water at a mine site in Nova Scotia.   I know I want my career to focus on environmental geology, but I also want to give back and show the importance of geology to the general public. I want others to see how amazing and important the earth is. I love how there is always more to learn, and I’m not sure where this will take me, but I can guarantee it’ll be fun.

Submitted by: Amy Cleaver

Day of Geography – Week of Events!

I can’t begin to describe how happy I am that more people continue to contribute to the Day of Geography site. It’s a labour of love and a bit of a challenge to put this all together but the amount of information that students around the world can access continues to grow.

My day this year begins at my “day job” as a Planning and GIS Data Administrator at the Niagara Region in the Long Range Planning Department of the Planning and Development Services Division. While there I’m responsible for the maintenance and updates of the iDARTS program. That is, the interactive development application retrieval and tracking system. Basically it’s a GIS that attaches planning applications to the parcel(s) of land they apply to. These can include Official Plan amendments, Zoning Bylaw applications, Subdivision/Condominium applications among others.

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This is not all I do however, I’m also the Founder and Executive Director of Geospatial Niagara and the caretaker as it were of this here “Day of Geography” initiative along with some other volunteers of Geospatial Niagara – namely Ashley and Matt.

This year, my day with Geospatial Niagara consisted of taking part in a panel discussion called Community Connects for the Brock University Co-op program. This particular panel is about careers in geography, developing interview skills, networking skills and in general promoting the geospatial technologies and information sector, especially as it relates to the growing sector in Niagara. After the presentation, I need to return to work and pick up where I left off.

In the evening, I need to put the finishing touches on my presentation to a class of Grade 10 students at Sir Winston Secondary School in St. Catharines. The organization Business Education Council of Niagara has a program that receives requests from teachers throughout Niagara for people and organizations to participate in discussions with high school students about career/educational opportunities. No surprise, I’m doing a talk about careers in Geography. It’ll be a year to the day, since the last time I was there (incidentally on Day of Geography 2014). I’m sure there will be students that remember last years presentation!

Wednesday is GIS Day! Time to head over to Brock University to watch the ESRI scholarship presentations!

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On Wednesday evening, work continues to finalize discussion ideas for the Niagara Minecraft Project Educator Roundtable discussion on November 20 and the Niagara Minecraft student hackathon on November 21. The Niagara Minecraft Project began as a thesis project in the Niagara College GIS and Geospatial Management Program in the 2014-15 school year. The goal was to convert Niagara Region geospatial data (roads, hydrology and topography) into a 1:1 scale Minecraft map similar to those completed in England and Denmark. It was one of three projects sponsored by Geospatial Niagara. Recently due to the exposure that this project has garnered, Geospatial Niagara became part of ihub – Niagara’s Educational Research and Innovation hub as a portfolio company. This greatly increases our visibility and provides greater access to the schools that make up the District School Board of Niagara. The two events being held as part of the Niagara Minecraft Project will help us to engage those teachers that want to utilize Minecraft in their classrooms to provide their curriculum, and on the following day, allow kids to have fun and experiment with the full Niagara region Minecraft Map.

My work with Geospatial Niagara is a passion that I cannot put into words. I have a vision for what it can be and over the last two years, we’ve slowly built towards that vision bringing more volunteers into the fold. In 2014, we spoke with over 650 students ranging from Grades 2 all the way to Masters students. This year we’re on target to present to over 1000 people.

We have six student projects on the go this year – three of them are at Niagara College – The Niagara Minecraft 2.0 project, the Lincoln & Welland Regiment Interactive Geospatial Visualization project and the Niagara Hops Farm Site Suitability project and three of them are through the Brock University Honours Internship program. These include the Niagara Aspiring Geoparks Economic Study, an Active Transportation Mapping study and a Niagara Geographic Education study.

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Our treeOcode Niagara project really took off this year receiving a grant back in May from Evergreen that helped us out immensely. We’ve recently also started working with a community group to provide them geospatial services and consulting, this brings us out further into the community which is another mission of ours, promoting community participation through geography.

Studying geography opens your eyes to just how big yet how interdependent everything in our world is. Geography as a discipline has never been more important than it is right now. Most challenges we face in 2015-16 and far into the future, revolve around Geography. Working for or creating your own business no matter if it’s for profit or not for profit is incredibly rewarding – doing it as a geographer seems to make it even more fulfilling.

HAPPY DAY OF GEOGRAPHY EVERYONE!! Hope you’ve had an excellent GIS Day as well. Thank you to all who participated this year.

A quick glimpse into my working world

Being the only GIS professional in my section means not only having all the responsibilities pertaining to GIS but also being the person that staff tend to go to for IT/computer help, graphic design, website maintenance, automation processes and database support.

Examples of my day-to-day tasks include providing technical support for GIS applications; creating specialized maps; assisting with GPS units; digital file management; supporting network connections to local servers; editing schematic drawings using graphic software; attending a teleconference on changes being made to our corporate web pages. Current larger projects involve Python scripting in ArcMap; uploading local spatial data to the geospatial depository; managing an Oracle database project and coordinating the development digital PDF smart forms.

As I was writing this, I was called upon three times. A couple inspectors asked for some computer help, our Chief Geologist needed assistance on an ArcMap procedure and our Chinese Intern needed me to continue training him on creating and distributing data for Water Static Level Maps.

I work in London, Ontario, Canada as the Data Management Specialist at a section of the provincial government that regulates the drilling, production and plugging of oil, gas and salt related wells. My job gives me much pride, is continually evolving and is full of technical tasks and projects. Awesome.

Hope this quick and casual blog entry provided a small insight into my working life. Next I think I’ll work on requests to enhance our customized ArcMap application…

Events at Western

Geography Awareness Week November 17-21, hospital 2014

Submitted by Kathy Tang via dayofgeography@gmail.com

This year, Western University’s Department of Geography is inspiring future learners throughout Geography Awareness Week! The Department invited local high schools to discover their world through the use of Geographic Information Systems and explore its benefits and significance throughout our everyday lives. (more…)

Geospatial Niagara – Day of Geography – Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School

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Sir Winston Churchill Selfie

Well today is the day!!! Day of Geography! The first one ever and definitely not the last.

Geospatial Niagara created Day of Geography but was inspired by the Archaeological community’s “Day of Archaeology“. The story of why, how, when can be found in the “About the Project” section.

Today was a special day because myself and six other colleagues had the fortune of making a presentation to approximately 100+ Grade 9 Geography students at a local high school – Sir Winston Churchill. Joining me on stage were Jean Tong – Director of K-12 Education at ESRI Canada, Kevin Turner – Physical Geography Professor at Brock University, Colleen Beard – Head of the Map, Data & GIS Library at Brock University, Teresa Alonzi and Amber-Lynn Schmucker from the Brock University Geographical Society and Janet Finlay – Program Coordinator of the Niagara College GIS and Geospatial Management Program.

I’d like to thank Kristen Salvas and Melanie Bourque from the Sir Winston Churchill Geography Department for making this happen. They capitalized on this event and we are very thankful. They were the first high school to take part in what I hope Geospatial Niagara can do every year, and that is bringing the possibilities of Geography to students, not only on Day of Geography but throughout the year as well

SirWinstonI am aware that there was another high school Day of Geography event and that was in Waterloo at the Waterloo Collegiate Institute being put on by my colleague Dr. Amanda Hooykaas.

The presentation began with a Jean Tong walking about what resources the students could access immediately and showed examples of various types of story maps. Thus began a journey through their education from high school through to university and post secondary education.

Next up came Kevin talking about some of the course offerings at Brock University and about his own research pertaining to climate change and its impacts in the Far North.

Colleen Beard guided the students through the Map, Data and GIS library site, illustrating some of the student created maps as well as the excellent War of 1812 Google Maps Presentation.

Teresa Alonzi and Amber-Lynn Schmucker, both from the Brock University Geographical Society (BUGS) talked about their experiences in the geography program. Interestingly enough neither of them began with geography at Brock, they found geography and switched their majors. They had found their calling.

Janet Finlay from Niagara College talked to the students about the GIS/Geospatial Management Program and about all the work (and the rewards) that entails.

The presentation wrapped up with me discussing Geospatial Niagara. What we’re all about, out vision, mission and goals.

We wrapped up with a little bit of a question period from the students which included one of my favourite questions to answer. “Why did you choose geography?”…. For me, I had some amazing teachers all the way through grade school to high school and university/college. In the long run I don’t think I chose geography. Geography chose me. But the educators that I had refined my vision and increased my passion for the subject to areas I had no idea about.

I encourage everyone professional or student, to share your love of all things geo. If you are in high school, share it with those in younger grades. If you are in college or university visit your old high school or grade school. Pay it forward…

And now the planning begins for Day of Geography 2015 – November 16, 2015 to make it bigger and better.

Cheers!

The day and life of a GIS/Data Management Specialist at MMM Group Limited

MMM Group Limited (www.mmmgrouplimited.com) is an Canadian employee owned engineering consulting firm servicing our clients in the Transportation, order Environmental, Civil, Geomatics, Water Recourses, Landscape Architecture, Planning, Airports, Renewable Energy, and IT information systems sectors.  With over 60 years of professional consulting expertise, MMM Group is a leader in large scale P3 partnerships and providing quality engineering services to our clients. MMM’s moto “Enriching the Quality of Peoples lives” was adopted in 2013 as a reflection of what one of the main goals are for all of our projects.

On a day to day basis, I manage the Environmental Management departments Geospatial information and datasets and support field staff with information pre and post site visits.  Tasks range widely from plotting GPS coordinates of POIs, monitoring locations, to mapping out areas of environmental concerns. Types of projects that I am typically involved with include: Contamination Overview Studies, Groundwater Assessments, MOE Permits to Take Water, Hydrogeological Investigations, and Phase I/II/III Environmental Site Assessments.  Mainly my job involves a lot of data collection from any source that I can get information from, managing requests from Project/Department Managers, mentoring co-op students, and providing technical geospatial help and advice to project managers about where/how GIS can help the project.

Personally, I love that I am employed in the Geomatics sector.  Since high school, I have loved GIS and seeing the cool things you can do with technology and the power it has to help make informed decisions. I like how my position merges regular everyday information with spatial technology and seeing project manager’s eyes just light up once they see the final product and what they can do with it. As all geospatial professionals know, what’s GIS with data, and the more data we collect about our world the more we understand how it works/evolves (speaking from a Physical geography major).

Thanks to my good friend/fellow colleague Darren Platakis for coming up with this idea of sharing what we do in a day to younger Geomatics professionals.  I wish I had a resource like this too see what geospatial professional do on a daily basis when I was in school. I think it’s a fabulous idea, and I hope this day and website will have an impact on our future generation of professionals so they can see how cool the industry is and how they can have an impact on the world/community they live in!

Happy Geography Awareness Week Everyone!

High-tech Gadgets and Bike Rides

This morning I tested a brand new $4, cialis 000 piece of GPS equipment to see how accurate it was. I configured it at my desk with the latest software and then I jumped on my bike and took it to a nearby provincial Survey monument buried in a concrete slab at a nearby park down the road. I had found the exact coordinates for the survey monument online so I knew that if the device was working properly it should record the exact same coordinates if I put the GPS on top of the monument. Sure enough, recipe the device averaged within about 50cm of the location of the monument. Satisfied I rode my bike back to the office, vialis 40mg put together a map that I loaded onto the device, added a form for collecting data and attributes and gave device to my colleague, an environmental engineer to go use out on the project site. Though this is definitely not what my morning looks like every day, I thought that it was pretty cool to be able to play with high-tech gadgets and ride my bike as part of my job.

Ryan Sutcliffe, GIS Technician

Stantec (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada)

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Mapping Fish Habitat

One of my favorite projects to work on for Chartwell Consultants is Forage Fish Mapping. For this project we provide GPS post-processing, sildenafil data management and mapping support to a biologist who searches for beaches in British Columbia which are suitable spawning habitat for forage fish. (more…)

A Day in the Life of the UK Defence Geographic Centre

This picture shows Defence Geographic Centre products being used for battle planning in a military Battle Group Headquarters

Welcome to the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) post for the “Day of Geography” which will provide an insight into how geographers support the UK Ministry of Defence and the wider interests of the UK Government. It is by necessity quite a long post but I hope you will find it interesting and stay with me until the end.  It begins with a general description of the organsation before leading into a “Day in the life of” tour. The picture shows DGC products being used for battle planning in a military Battle Group Headquarters.

DGC is a complex organisation, viagra 100mg unique within the UK and recognised by national and international partners as world class leaders in many of our areas of operation.  I am the Head of Geographic Research and my group comprises about 100 people spread across four teams.  Earlier today I walked around my teams and the other parts of DGC to capture a snapshot of some of the activities on a typical day. I have also added a few details about my own activities.  But first I need to set out some context; without it the day in the life snapshot will not make much sense!

DGC is based in West London and is an organisation within the Joint Forces Command of the UK Ministry of Defence.  The majority of our 340 civilian personnel are members of the Geospatial Analyst specialist professional group. Director DGC is our “Head of Profession”.  Our Geospatial Analysts are professionals in disciplines including cartography, try geography, physician geographic information management, geopolitics, photogrammetry, imagery exploitation, aeronautical information, GIS, reprographic services, and the management and delivery of map supply.

Within DGC are a small number of military personnel from the Army’s 42 Royal Engineer (Geographic) Regiment, specialists in the provision of deployable geospatial analyst support.  They provide a specialist military perspective in our decisions on how to satisfy military requirements and support engagement with our customers; these include colleagues from their regiment who are attached to a variety of military units and headquarters and a larger number who remain in the regiment’s main base until they are called upon to deploy in support of military operations in several locations around the world.

Also closely related to DGC are specialists in air navigation/air cartography within No1 Aeronautical Documents Unit, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy officers who are specialists in hydrography and meteorology, each responsible for managing the UK MOD relationships with the UK Hydrographic Office and Meteorological Office.

We take our professional development very seriously. Many of our people are graduates in geography and other relevant subjects, but this is not a pre-requisite for DGC recruitment. We nevertheless believe that we are the single largest employer of geographers in the UK.  Some of our people have completed postgraduate qualifications in a variety of relevant subjects, often supported by DGC sponsorship.  A growing number of us are also achieving Chartered Geographer accreditation with the Royal Geographical Society; this recognition of our status as professional geographers is very important to us.

Our job is to provide geographic information, advice, products and services to the MOD and HM Armed Forces.  We can be called upon to provide this for any part of the world where there is a defence interest (for UK areas we use data provided by the relevant civilian national mapping authorities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland). We support every level of defence activity.  But no-one else in HM Government does what we do; we are in so many ways a national asset and we therefore increasingly support other government departments through a variety of arrangements.

You can read more general background information about DGC on the www.gov.uk website:

About the Defence Geographic Centre

Putting the Military on the Map – 3 January 2013

DGC Receives GIS Award – 4 October 2012

But before you do that please consider reading on to see what is happening in DGC today……..

MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2014

My day started with a review of last week’s activities and a look ahead to the coming week.  Every Monday my colleagues on the senior leadership team and our key team members meet to conduct a structured review of ongoing and emerging operational tasks.  This is called the “Monday Operations Meeting”.  To prepare for this I first held a short informal meeting with my own team leaders to discuss: how are things going; what has been completed and what is in progress; are there any issues that I need to be aware of; here are some things that you need to know about for the coming week – potential changes in priorities, management interventions, incoming and outgoing visits; and finally a little bit of admin…..

We then all joined the Monday Operations Meeting.  We were briefed on latest developments and directions/requirements and my colleagues and I each provided a brief situation report on the tasks and developments in our teams.  Some new urgent requirements emerged, some priorities were changed, and during the course of today I will be taking actions to adjust our response.  The variety of tasks and areas of interest is huge and constantly changing.  We are acquiring, producing and providing geographic information for many locations around the world – wherever there is a HM Government or MOD focus on emerging or ongoing events and crises – as well as for military training and exercises.

Everything happens somewhere and our decision makers at all levels want to know where that is, what is there, and so on.

We broadly have two types of work: our first priority is always to support the current operational and planning requirements of the MOD Permanent Joint Headquarters, as directed by the tasking authorities in Joint Forces Command. However, in order to be able to respond quickly as situations evolve (often with as little as two hours notice) we need to have anticipated and prepared as much as possible – this is our longer term planned and programmed work.

After the Monday Operations Meeting we dispersed and, in order to produce the snapshot for this post, I started this special “Day of Geography” tour around the DGC to see what is going on in more detail.

My first stop was with DGC’s Head of Geographic Information Collection and International Relationships; he is one of my colleagues on the senior leadership team.  He is researching the history of USA/UK geospatial cooperation for Defence purposes and has discovered that the very first agreement to exchange maps and survey information was signed in May 1942. There have been many agreements signed since then which have deepened the level of cooperation between the two countries. He has made a number of decisions and sent emails covering the release of UK-produced mapping and data to support the relief effort for the Ebola crisis. The aim is to allow access to vital mapping over Sierra Leone to those organisations that really need it.

My next stop is with the Geographic Applications Branch which provides technical support for our specialist geospatial tools and advises some of our customers. They are part of a group led by another of my senior leadership team colleagues who has responsibility for foundation data production, stewardship, and cartographic expertise. One of the team has recently visited Friedrichshafen to provide geographic expert support to the MOD team involved in the Airbus A400M Atlas programme.  The trials involved loading and testing a number of DGC geographic datasets including raster Map data, flight obstructions data and elevation models, and this is now being followed up in the office today.

My next stop is with DGC’s Senior Geographic Data Steward.  Good authoritative data, and in particular its management and stewardship, is critical for DGC and the users of DGC’s services. Her team is finalising the DGC Archiving and File Naming Convention Policy in support of our transformation to a “Data Centric Working” model.  They are also finalising the report and recommendations from the Data Centric Working Pilot Study we conducted during the summer in partnership with ESRI UK and Raytheon and auditing our data repositories to ensure that we are able to prepare the data for a new approach to storage and discovery.  This includes ensuring that the metadata is captured and stored in compliance with the MOD Geospatial Metadata Profile.

Next on the tour is a task team which specialises in imagery management and exploitation.  They are researching commercial satellite imagery holdings to identify imagery that will be suitable for use as a source for the creation of products to support the personnel deployed to West Africa as part of the Ebola crisis response.  The task team is going to rectify, reformat and enhance the imagery so that it can be exploited by the other task teams.  Although the resultant products are initially aimed at the needs of UK personnel, they will almost certainly be shared with key partners.

The next task team specialises in information important to users in the aeronautical community, such as powerlines and vertical obstructions; they acquire and manage that data and ensure that it is accurately incorporated into a variety of products.  This complements and supports the work of the No1 Air Information Documents Unit, which produces specialist products such as aeronautical navigation charts and documents describing the terminal approach procedures and plans for airfields.  Today the task team are looking at how they can grow their capacity through cross training, so that team members can take on a wider range of activities.  The work has a highly temporal nature as the outputs must support the refresh and reissue of critical flight safety outputs on a 28 day cycle.  This cycle is non-negotiable and cross-training will improve the team’s resilience, but it is crucial to maintain a high level of data quality at the same time.

The next segment of my tour takes in some of my own teams.  My first stop is with one of my senior staff who leads the core team of geographic research experts.  He has reviewed and discussed some materials from the geographical names, boundaries, and geodesy sections which will soon be used for briefing visitors to DGC. He has also held a meeting with DGC’s web services team to discuss structure of the database schema for a planned MOD gazetteer to support search and discovery of information using web services. Team leadership carries additional management responsibilities and he is now assessing applications arising from a recent external recruitment campaign.

DGC’s boundaries expert is one of several staff who have completed a relevant MA at Kings College London, sponsored by DGC. He started the day with a review of the daily feeds from BBC Monitoring; he was looking for news reports that might be relevant to his research into boundary issues and extracted information for reference in our digital filing system. For the remainder of the day he is writing up summaries of his research into the status and alignments of the international boundaries of a country in Africa, including factors that are relevant to understanding interstate disputes.

DGC’s geographical names experts work closely with colleagues at the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (PCGN) based at the Royal Geographical Society.  Today one of the team is finalising checks on the spelling and positioning of geographical names on products to support the Ebola crisis response over West Africa.  Using additional larger-scale mapping sources she has been able add names for rivers which would have otherwise remained unidentified.  This will enhance the utility of the products.  I called the PCGN and learned that today they are identifying the locations of villages in an African country, checking the names on another product to support the Ebola crisis response, researching names for use on briefing maps of three countries in the Middle East and Asia, and looking for new information on recent changes to internal administrative boundaries in a country in Asia.

Just around the corner one of DGC’s experts in geodesy is compiling geodetic information for a new training area map so that it can include the correct magnetic information.  He also has work in progress to determine the history of a map of an African country; this will enable us to accurately georeference it so that it becomes a useful source for deriving the alignments of internal administrative boundaries in that country.

I am fortunate to have a team member who has a particularly deep passion for, and expertise in, military cartography and relevant aspects of imagery exploitation. He is working on a draft specification for a new product intended to depict border porosity.  He needs to include advice on the factors and potential sources (imagery and documentary sources) that should be considered, so he is conducting research into the relevance and weighting of those factors as applied to the question of what makes a border porous for determined, opportunist and encumbered groups.  He will then need to devise a way to portray that porosity in a graphical form that is both meaningful and useful to the user of the product.

Anyone familiar with maps will be aware that there is a great deal of information around the margins, including the identification of the product and producer.  One of my team members is an expert in these matters, as well as an expert cartographer.  Today he has attended a cross-DGC daily task management meeting, before determining the product identification and marginalia guidance for two new products over a key UK naval base.  His next task is to review the marginalia and cartographic content of the latest in a series of interactive geographic research products of a country in Africa.

My next stop is one of the three task teams in my group, each of which has a distinct primary expertise, but is also capable of surging support to other tasks as required. They are compiling a “Map Book” as part of the Ebola crisis response.  It will bring together a wide variety of relatively small-scale briefing maps which have been completed across the DGC and by our team members embedded into other parts of MOD.   The bundling of products produced in different places, at different times, for different purposes, inevitably highlights some inconsistencies which may reduce the users’ confidence in the Map Book.  The team are using Adobe Photoshop to make minor adjustments so that the Map Book complies with the latest cartographic and marginalia specification.

The team have other tasks in work for another area in which MOD has personnel on the ground and is using ESRI ArcMap and imagery sources to digitise and symbolise vector data of transportation networks and buildings of interest.  The vectors will be integrated with an imagery base, grid and geodetic information to form an image-map atlas.  The process of defining page extents and index pages will be complex but is essential if the product is to be delivered in a format that is easy to carry and use.

One of my three task teams specialises in research-heavy products which include an element of information discovery, analysis and fusion that is more complex than that required for a typical “standard specification” cartographic product. The team is also developing our ability to acquire and visualise information relevant to the study of human geography.  Understanding the distribution and characteristics of populations (and their relationships with the physical environment, infrastructure, economy, institutions and governance) is now accepted as essential to anticipating and responding to conflict situations, humanitarian crises and natural disasters.

The team is busy producing a range of products in support of MOD and HM Government planning and operations in many locations in Africa and the Middle East. They are also engaged in an important collaborative project with international partners to develop a structured data model to support the collection and analysis of human geography data.

I have a particular interest in the human geography developments as I chair the UK MOD Human Domain Community of Interest.  Linked to this I chair an annual conference which my team and I co-organise with international partners, hosted by the DefenceAcademy at Shrivenham.  The next conference will be held 1-3 June 2015 and you will be able find out more about it on the DefenceAcademy website early in 2015 by searching for “Spatial Socio Cultural Knowledge Workshop”.  It will focus on “Defence Engagement”.  You can read about the last conference here:

Human Geography Conference 2014

The third of my task teams is working in partnership with other DGC task teams to rapidly produce new topographic maps to military specifications for several areas of topical MOD and HM Government interest.  These maps are not being compiled from scratch (which would take many weeks or months) but from a ready-made database of centre-line vector data.  This is the result of several years of work by 29 nations, working in partnership to create a database of features from imagery sources to an accuracy equivalent to a 1:50,000 scale.  The database is not optimised for direct use as it is intended to be the source for derived products, produced quickly (sometimes enhanced with extra content) when required.  The products are then shared with key partners.  DGC is one of the lead nations in this partnership led by the USA.  DGC has a team dedicated to delivering our contribution which we achieve though contracts with industry partners in the commercial sector.

Elsewhere in DGC…     There are small teams engaging directly with our customers to ensure that they are receiving the support they need.

We have a very small number of staff who are following up the applications from our recent external recruitment campaign; this important activity has temporarily drawn them away from their other key function of ensuring that we develop and maintain our professional skills.

We have small teams which are busy making contact with partners and suppliers all over the world to negotiate access to, or purchase of, maps and databases; these are received in paper and digital formats and, after an initial assessment to determine their usefulness, they are catalogued into our extensive libraries.  The products which are judged to be suitable to satisfy high priority customer requirements are immediately diverted into the relevant parts of DGC to be exploited or passed directly to the customers in a suitable format.

In the dissemination group there is a small team maintaining MOD’s geographic information web services.  They are working closely with a task team which is dedicated to the selection and organisation of the products and data that is judged to be most useful and suitable at a variety of scales and resolutions over countries of particular interest, so that customers can be given the best available data in a single large package on high capacity disk drives and through web services.  Their colleagues nearby are extracting digital data and products in smaller volumes onto optical media and lower capacity disk drives for those customers who have more discreet requirements.  For the customers who need paper maps and charts, our team is busy conducting the rapid plotting or high volume lithographic printing of quantities of maps and charts which are subsequently distributed from our map depot.

None of this would be possible without the support of our very small and dedicated team of administrative support staff.

That concludes this Day of Geography tour of the DGC.  I hope that you have found it interesting to have an insight into some of the many ways in which geographers contribute to activities of national and international importance.

(c) Crown Copyright 2014