Brock University

Day of Geography 2017

Hello everyone. Welcome to the 4th annual Day of Geography!

On this day, I’m doing a wide variety of things. As my full time job is working in the Long Range Community Planning pod of Planning and Development Services at the Niagara Region, a healthy part of my day so far is catching up on some applications that needed to be entered into our iDarts – Development Application Tracking System. This is a system that manages the various types of development applications that come in (these include Subdivisions, Condominiums, Zoning By-law, etc.). I wasn’t at work this passed Friday so the applications have piled up a little.

As some may know, I’m also the founder of Geospatial Niagara (the organization behind Day of Geography) and we have so many projects on the go. One thing that is particularly new this year for me is the GeoNiagara Radio Show.  This project began as a 4th Year Honours Internship in Brock Universities Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. Season 2 has just gotten underway and we will be airing Episode 3 on November 22, 2017.

The premise of the show is to engage and inform educators, students, and the broader community about the relevance and importance of geography as a discipline and geo-literacy as an educational necessity in a world that is ever increasingly being informed and influenced by geospatial technologies and information. The show is hosted my myself and co-host/producer RJ!

All of the episodes air on 103.7 CFBU, usually on the third Wednesday of the month, but after airing, the MP3’s are made available for download. If you wouldn’t think that you could make a career in media if you have a geography background, take a look around at the use of maps and visualizations in print media on television and on the internet. There are plenty of examples of stories that will include interactive maps as part of the story. After the passing of Gord Downie – lead singer and lyricist of The Tragically Hip, the CBC posted a story map of the geographic inspirations for  some of the bands songs. You can be interested in media and utilize a geographic education for that career that you desire!

Some more good news! Geospatial Niagara now has employee number 1, Celeste, and today a little bit of time has been spent communicating with her with respect to some of our other projects, trying to determine budgeting of some services.

It’s never ceases to amaze me the types of jobs that I do in a day and as all of them are based one way or another in Geography, these do not feel like jobs! To me it is fun!

Happy Geography Awareness Week!!

 

 

 

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.

What Does My Day of Geography Look Like? Map Library Associate/Geospatial Data Coordinator

I work in a fishbowl called the Map, Data & GIS Library. I’m always on the frontline helping students with a variety of requests from navigating Mackenzie Chown Complex to extracting remote sensing data or using HTML to make a web mapping application! I LOVE to help students and thrive on geospatial data requests or GIS problem-solving issues. When I’m not helping students, I’m working on digitization projects that make historical map documents GIS-ready.

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For example: historical topo maps; historical air photos; and historical maps. I also try to keep the MDGL on the cutting edge of technology often my ideas are ahead of their time. None-the-less, exploring geospatial data availability, quality and delivery are my priority so that the Brock University community is served the best data to meet their teaching and research needs. I love my job!

Posted on behalf of Sharon Janzen – Brock University Map, Data & GIS Library.

 

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My Spatial Career

My Geography Degree was the best thing that ever happened to me on all scales of my life (no pun intended…well maybe a little). I have worked (and yes I mean was paid) in the realms of Economic Development & Tourism, Heritage Planning, Development Compliance, Urban Planning, Geographic Information Systems & Asset Management – IT….yes I said ‘IT’ and now Engineering….what!

Yes my spatial career has been just that – all over the place overlapping multiple disciplines! There is so much I have done and so much I can do! Geographers can understand processes, data, mapping, SPACE! And with that comes many many many many disciplines! I have held many titles throughout my life (Technology Analyst, Urban Planner, Tourist Ambassador, Technician) although they may not all sound geographical they all have been because of Geography! I have been blessed with meeting people all over the world! issued permits for new land uses and buildings! Built spatial databases! Created and manipulated data to create awesome Maps!

On this Day of Geography I am an Infrastructure and Environmental Technologist with Municipal Works at the City of Niagara Falls. I work primarily with Infrastructure and Asset Management. I map out our municipal infrastructure – sanitary, storm, water, roads etc and attach attribute information to these assets! I get to take care of the infrastructure that supports our daily lives! Nothing beats the knowledge of the space around you! Thanks for reading!

Student: Brock University

Before I begin discussing my day, I’d like to describe my educational background. In 2011 I began my first year of study as a Human Geography student at Brock University. I attended Niagara College last year as part of a joint program between Brock and Niagara College and earned a post-graduate certificate in GIS-Geospatial Management. This was a great decision because I gained a lot of hands on experience working with GIS software and learning about the many applications that are involved with GIS. Plus, I will end up with a Bachelors Degree and a Post-Graduate Certificate after four years as opposed to five. While at Niagara College, I discovered that GIS presents a wide variety of employment opportunities and that I enjoyed the field very much. As a result, I found my career path for when I finish my studies at Brock this coming April. (more…)

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

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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!

A Day in the Life of a…Planner

My day started typically enough, viagra with turning my computer on, try reviewing my email and voice mail.

Working in a small, rural municipality in Niagara Region, my focus is customer service. I try to start everyday with a to do list, and depending on the day it either gets put aside due to customer calls/walk-ins, or on the occasional good day, I actually get to check something off of the list, before it grows again 🙂

Typical activities:

1. Phone calls: As the only planner in the municipality, I get all kinds of phone calls. They usually include needing zoning information or reviewing building plans to ensure they are compliant with zoning

2. Mapping – I use Niagara Navigator (municipal version) daily as it helps me look up a property to see it from a Google Earth perspective. Zoning and Official Plan data are included as layers, which helps me answer questions faster than otherwise.

Today:

1. Regional Matched Funding: I have been directed by our CAO to identify projects that will qualify for Lakefront and/or Waterfront funding from the Region. This involves identifying potential partners (CAA, Niagara Region Health) and trying to match the project details to the funding requirements. Another challenge is getting the capital needs onto the 2015 Township budget

2. Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) teleconference: I am a volunteer member of the newly formed National Initiatives Advisory Committee. Our first telecon is this afternoon. I have to review the agenda and meeting materials in preparation for the meeting.

3. Township Zoning By-law: Our new Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw became officially in force last Wednesday. Dealing with the public has identified some typos, errors and omissions etc that need to be resolved. I have started to track these issues, in order to resolve them later this year, or early in 2015.

4. Customer Service: On-going phone calls, walk-ins and other inquiries.

5. Committee of Adjustment Applications for December 2014 hearing: We have received 2 applications that need to be processed. This involves ensuring that both are deemed “Complete” per the Planning Act, that both have Notice of Hearings drafted, and that both are circulated to the appropriate agencies (checklist used to confirm this).