Selkirk College Sheds Light on Open Data at GIS Day

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
November 13th, 2016

Selkirk College is marking International GIS Day with an event that includes an exploration of the hot button issue of Open Data.

Open Data is linked to Open Government and has been adopted by senior levels of government (including the Canadian Federal Government and the Province of BC) and large Canadian cities like Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, and Toronto. The small size of many rural governments and resulting lack of capacity means that few if any rural governments provide Open Data in Canada and around the world.

On November 17, International GIS Day, Selkirk College will host its own event, a day that demonstrates the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) used for better understanding our Earth. BC’s Information & Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur will attend providing a keynote address describing how BC’s freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation and policy frames the Open Data discussion.

“Since the Commissioner is responsible for both protection of privacy and access to information in BC, he is well-placed to discuss both sides of this issue,” says Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) Coordinator Ian Parfitt.

This event will explore how Open Data could be expanded in rural communities and what the benefits and costs would be? What are the trade-offs and where is the balance between Open Data and personal privacy? The SGRC is exploring these and other questions in a three-year research project funded by Canada’s Social Science & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

 “Data is a fundamental part of GIS” says Parfitt. “Geographic data is often restricted or expensive in Canada, creating barriers for public use of data even when that data was created with public funding. On the other hand, maps can be used to locate individuals, raising significant privacy concerns. We are interested in gaining a better understanding of how we can balance the common good of data sharing with the individual’s need for privacy.”

Selkirk College Advanced Diploma in GIS (ADGIS) students will also present posters on the topic of Open Data. Bachelor of GIS students will present posters on their proposed thesis projects covering topics ranging from Open Data to drone-based surveys. The SGRC will also provide examples of the Centre’s research including remote sensing with drones and web-based mapping tools. Selkirk College’s School of Environment & Geomatics will display current and planned GIS educational opportunities. A group of GIS students from Spokane Community College will also attend and present posters.

“Open Data is the theme for the ADGIS posters and for our keynote speaker this year, but as always we will have something GIS for everyone,” says Parfitt.

The student displays have been one of the most popular features of the last four GIS Days at Selkirk College.

“The college community and our visitors are always impressed by the high quality of our students’ work” says Parfitt. “This year’s event will also feature posters from Spokane Community College GIS Students. It’s really great to see a transboundary GIS community start to take shape right here at Selkirk College.”

The first formal International GIS Day took place in 1999. Esri president and co-founder Jack Dangermond credits Ralph Nader with being the person who inspired the creation of GIS Day. He considered GIS Day a good initiative for people to learn about geography and the uses of GIS. He wanted GIS Day to be a grassroots effort and open to everyone to participate.

Join Selkirk College for GIS Day on November 17 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Castlegar Campus.  The poster session runs from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Staff Lounge and the keynote talk takes place from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. in Sentinel 113. This event is free to the public and no registration is required. Light refreshments will be provided.

GIS Day 2016 at Selkirk College is supported by grants from SSHRC, Columbia Power, Esri Canada, and the Kootenay Chapter of the Canadian Remote Sensing Society.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General


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