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Provincial Base Mapping Data Sources in Canada

Provincial Base Mapping Data Sources in Canada


I'm very familiar with the Ontario Base Mapping Data, and am looking for similar data for other Canadian Provinces. Perhaps we can start a list of resources here? I'm looking for something at a larger scale than the standard NTS data.

Ontario Base Mapping - 1:10,000/1:20,000 (depending on latitude) - available from Land Information Ontario (via an Unrestricted Use Licence) or from GeographyNetwork.ca


Canada wide:

Provincial:

Edit: Updated links


For British Columbia we get 98% of our data from

http://www.icisociety.ca/web-map/public-web-map.htm

This data is very current data - see

http://www.icisociety.ca/web-map/upload-history.htm

[Members get access to more datasets]

Other posts mention the other sources we use.

Though do not forget- Open Street Map has very good quality data for Canadian Cities (rural areas less so.) - Based on GeoBase and GeoGratis data.


  • GeoBase
  • GeoGratis
  • Atlats of Canada
  • Stats Canada Some of their data is free and the whole site is free when using e-stat or an education account if I recall correctly

In New Brunswick we have SNB

If you have a university account you can tap into IDLS, uWaterloo and uToronto GIS Labs


BC released over 2400 "datasets" with several in GIS format at www.data.gov.bc.ca

There is also the Land and Resource Data Warehouse that has ported a lot of it's data into data.gov.bc.ca (log in as a guest if you don't care to register a BCeID)

The TRIM I & II (Terrain Resource Inventory Management) database, though not free is being fragmented where subsets can be found in other 'open data' products such as hydrology now in the Fresh Water Atlas (FWA) and I've even seen contours in CanVec in remote areas of Northern BC.


I have some of the one's already posted on here in my favorites. I'll try adding a few and hopefully I can fill in some holes that were missed. Sorry if I post anything that's already been covered:

ESRI Geography Network - Not the greatest

Canadian GIS

Alberta Data - good quality but not free

Northwest Territories - Mostly just urban areas & not great

VDS Technologies - Global data - Canada covered - pretty decent

Saskatchewan Data

Lastly, there's a cluster of links posted on the Laurentian University site that some of you may find to be of use


Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are designed to store, manipulate and display data relating to locations on Earth's surface. Common applications are land inventories, the census, urban planning, environmental and resource management, marketing, and so on, where the data banks contain locational references such as a county, the boundaries of land parcels, the limits of tree species, the position of road intersections, etc. Equivalent terms for such information are "spatial" and "geo-coded" data. GIS employs computer technology because computers are quick and efficient in processing and manipulating large quantities of data. GIS systems need these capabilities to handle the vast quantities of information they contain. Smaller systems are frequently used in marketing, locational analysis, education, etc.

Canadian GIS

Canada has been a pioneer in the development of GIS. The Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS), initiated in 1963 by the Agriculture Rehabilitation and Development Agency, was the first operational land resource GIS. GIS is now operating under Environment Canada. Another early system was the Geographically Referenced Data Retrieval System of Statistics Canada, started around 1965. Several Canadian universities were pioneers in the creation of GIS techniques and prototype systems. Many of the concepts and methods developed for these systems are now routinely incorporated into new systems. Also, the development of commercial products has been very strong in Canada.

Large GIS are predominantly operated by federal and provincial agencies, but there is a growing number of mid-size applications of GIS in urban planning, forest and petroleum industries, utilities, conservation, and Native affairs. It is predicted that the usage of GIS will continue to expand.

Key Issues

Key issues in GIS are geometric dimension, topological relationship, data structures and databases, spatial analysis and cartographic display. Geometry provides the basic indexing structure for the data. Usually, latitude and longitude or their derivatives are being employed. Topology concerns itself with the relationship between geographic features.

GIS contain some of the largest databases available and it is therefore important to identify efficient data structures. On the other hand, these structures ought to replicate human perceptions of spatial structures as much as possible to make analysis and presentation more elegant. The most effective analysis is often visual analysis and the computer's flexibility is a very powerful help here. GIS users also have a range of statistical and other quantitative tools at their disposal.


Development

In 1960, Roger Tomlinson was working at Spartan Air Services, an aerial survey company based in Ottawa, Ontario. The company was focused on producing large-scale photogrammetric and geophysical maps, mostly for the Government of Canada. In the early 1960s, Tomlinson and the company were asked to produce a map for site-location analysis in an east African nation. Tomlinson immediately recognized that the new automated computer technologies might be applicable and even necessary to complete such a detail-oriented task more effectively and efficiently than humans. Eventually, Spartan met with IBM offices in Ottawa to begin developing a relationship to bridge the previous gap between geographic data and computer services. Tomlinson brought his geographic knowledge to the table as IBM brought computer programming and data management.

The Government of Canada began working towards the development of a national program after a 1962 meeting between Tomlinson and Lee Pratt, head of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI). Pratt was charged with creation of maps covering the entire region of Canada's commercially productive areas by showing agriculture, forestry, wildlife, and recreation, all with the same classification schemes. Not only was the development of such maps a formidable task, but Pratt understood that computer automation may assist in the analytical processes as well. Tomlinson was the first to produce a technical feasibility study on whether computer mapping programs would be a viable solution for the land-use inventory and management programs, such as CLI. He is also given credit for coining the term "geographic information system" and is recognized as the "Modern Father of GIS."

CGIS continued to be developed and operated as a stand alone system by the Government of Canada until the late 1980s, at which point the widespread emergence of commercial GIS software slowly rendered it obsolete. In the early 1990s, a group of volunteers successfully extracted all of the data from the old computer tapes, and the data made available on GeoGratis.


Geographical Information Systems

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are systems designed to store and manipulate data relating to locations on the earth's surface. The major advantage of GIS is that it can read and analyse different layers of spatial information in the form of maps and satellite images easily and allows identifying the spatial relationships.

In Bangladesh there is a growing application of GIS in land inventories, the population census, urban planning, forestry, petroleum and gas exploration industries, utilities, transportation systems and so on, where the data banks contain locational references such as a district, or the actual boundaries of land parcels.

GISs are run on the all spectrum of computer systems ranging from personal computers (PCs) to multi-user supercomputers, and are available in a wide variety of software languages. There are number of tools that are essential for effective GIS establishment which are computer, digitizer, GPS (Global Positioning System), plotter, network, CD-ROM drive, printer and of course software which links all of the equipment to run properly.

Canada has been a pioneer in the development of GIS. The Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS), initiated in 1963 by the Agriculture Rehabilitation and Development Agency, was the first operational land resource GIS. Another early system was the Geographically Referenced Data Retrieval System of Statistics Canada, started around 1965. But GIS was not widely used until late 1970s, when technological improvements and lower costs made computers widely available. The use of GIS tools has grown dramatically in the 1980s from obscurity to become commonplace in businesses, universities and government where they are now used for many diverse applications.

The use of GIS application in Bangladesh started in 1991 by ISPAN (Irrigation Support Project for Asia and the Near East) for the FAP-19 (Flood Action Plan-19) project. The organisation is now named as EGIS (Environmental and GIS Support Projects for Water Sector Planning). At present there are over 50 GIS installations in the country. At the beginning, most of the GIS installations were donor supported and operated by foreign experts with limited local personnel. Now the situation has changed, a number of government and non-government organisations have installed GIS with their own finance and are operated by local expert.

Major using GIS software in Bangladesh ArcInfo and ArcView GIS are common and popular software in the country. ArcView extension tools are being used for advance GIS modelling like Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, Network Analyst, Image Analyst, Internet Map Server. The other useable software are ERDAS, ERDAS IMAGINE, IDRISI, Tosca, ER Mapper, SPANS, MapInfo, MapBasic, Imagine, Earth View, Surfer, Lantastic Network, AutoCAD, ArcFM, ArcMap, Map Objects, Arc Objects and ArcGIS. All these softwares can run following DOS, Windows and Unix platform operating systems.

Organisational applications The application of GIS is new in Bangladesh because of its higher hardware installation cost and lack of expertise. In spite of these hurdles it is developing steadily. GIS is a need to a wide variety of users for planning, development and monitoring purposes in various organisations. Brief descriptions of them are as follows:

Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has executed some projects where GIS is used as an essential tool. National Minor Irrigation Development Project (NMIDP) is one of them. This department also controls the activities of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). BARC is executing a project entitled 'Utilisation of Agro-ecological Zones Database and Installation of GIS for Agricultural Development' initiated in 1996 with technical support from UNDP and FAO. The main objective of the project is to create a National Agriculture Land Information System Database in GIS environment to fulfil the agricultural planning and research needs.

bangladesh bureau of statistics (BBS) has established automated cartographic section with GIS and remote sensing support. This organisation is using GIS to provide text data along with map for perspective planning, developing, census-based population and demographic data in GIS formatting, making large scale mouza maps and thematic maps for different types of reports and also creating user service facility.

Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) is a research organisation, established GIS set up in 1993. The purpose of GIS activities is to provide different projects and also act as a training centre for universities, research institutes, NGOs and various government and private sectors. BCAS successfully completed the following projects by incorporating their GIS facilities: Vulnerability of Bangladesh to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise, Solar Energy Pilot Study Project, Health Facilities of Dhaka City, Bangladesh Climate Change: Country Study.

Bangladesh Forest Department has installed GIS set up in 1995 and executed Forest Resource Management Project with the assistance of World Bank. The main activities include forest plantation planning as well as to provide professional and technical services in the field of GIS and associated technologies. The department prepared forest plantation maps for specific site matching.

A range of environmental and GIS projects initiated in 1991 under the FAP-19 were ultimately integrated into a single Environmental and GIS Support Projects for Water Sector Planning (EGIS) in 1995. It is a project under the Ministry of Water Resources funded by the Government of the Netherlands. But in 2002, EGIS established an independent institute named 'Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services' (CEGIS). A Board of Trustees governs this institution with major representation from public agencies. CEGIS services are available for public and private sectors for GIS based consultancy, training and research and development.

It may be wise to mention here that EGIS has been a pioneer organisation in the development of GIS in Bangladesh. It has developed capabilities in terms of experience, hardware and software for digital image processing, analysis, building digital spatial databases, modelling, differential GPS surveys and meta-databases. EGIS also attempts to collect data sources from high-resolution optical images (European ERS-1, ERS-2, Canadian RADERSAT-1 SAR images) that can be used for planning and management.

Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) has established GIS set-up in early nineties to facilitate establishment and maintenance of computerised national database for implementation of the rural infrastructure development programmes in Bangladesh. The GIS unit of LGED has completed so far all upazila/thana base maps, district maps and road maps of the country. All these maps contain various layers including administrative boundaries, physical infrastructure, educational institutions, settlement patterns, agriculture and socio-economic infrastructures based on nation wide coverage of SPOT panchromatic satellite imagery of 1989. LGED has also developed a number of GIS based planning tools to be used by the decision-makers at the local level.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (Rajuk) installed GIS in 1993. In this organisation the main field of GIS application is urban planning. Here, the GIS activity mainly concentrates on mapping and data management for development planning of Dhaka Metropolitan Area. Rajuk also prepared urban landuse planning map and infrastructure map at strategic 1:50,000 to detailed 1:3,960 using spatial and attribute data.

In 1995 Roads and Highways Department (RHD) under an Institutional Development Components (IDC) Project sponsored by Overseas Development Agency (ODA) completed GIS mapping programmes to create national transport network. In 1996 the project also successfully built a comprehensive geographical database for the road and rail sectors, which started operation in 1997.

Survey of Bangladesh (SOB) mainly installed GIS technology for making and publishing digital maps. For this reason SOB works in cooperation with other national organisations like SPARRSO, BBS, DLRS and international organisations like JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), IGN of France, ITC of Netherlands and Ordinance Survey of England.

The major GIS (installed in 1991) activities of SPARRSO are to facilitate remote sensing and other spatial and attribute data for various applications in environment and resource sectors. The successful projects of SPARRSO in this regard are Crop Assessment, Forest Cover Mapping, Shrimp Culture Potentiality Mapping, Census Mapping, Monitoring of Ecological Changes, and Landuse Mapping.

Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI) render supports for preparing Thana Land and Soil Utilisation Guides including a soil database, soil fertility and landuse monitoring, salinity monitoring and preparation of soil and landuse related maps. All these activities of mapping and monitoring systems are GIS related.

Surface Water Modelling Centre (SWMC) is using GIS as a data processing, modelling and planning tool. By using GIS, SWMC is succeeded in monitoring optimum operation of Karnafuli Hydro Power Station, arsenic contamination of groundwater and crop damage assessment. They are also successful in GIS based software development. Interactive Information System (IIS) is one of the key development software, which combines topographic maps prepared under a Geographical Information System and field information of channels, structures, roads, embankments, homesteads stored in a Rational Database Management System (RDMS).

The Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) prepared and updated 'National Water Resources Database' (NWRD) for preparing the National Water Policy adopted by the Government of Bangladesh. The database is designed with SQL (Structured Query Language) in back-end and GIS based graphical user interfaces in front-end. The primary activity of NWRD is to meet the demand of water resource planners for a consolidated and reliable data bank.

All the universities of Bangladesh installed GIS for their academic curriculum in order to create skilled manpower for the country. The department of Geography and Environment, Jahangirnagar University set up GIS lab in 1992. The following year several other university departments established GIS lab. These are: the department of Geography and Environment, University of Dhaka the department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Rajshahi University Urban and Rural Planning Discipline, Khulna University the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (URP) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Recently the department of Geology and the department of Soil, Water and Environment, both from Dhaka University and the department of Geography, Chittagong University also established GIS lab for research purposes.

Some other GIS installed organisations and companies are: Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWBD), CIPROCO Computers Limited, Cooperation of American Relief in Everywhere (CARE), Directorate of Land Records and Surveys (DLRS), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Development Design Consultants (DDC), Department of Environment (DOE), GEOSERV Limited, Geographical Solutions Research Centre (GSRC) Limited, International Centre for Diarrhoea Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Natural Resources Programmes (NRP), Banglapedia Project of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, The Mappa, etc.

The following table represents some common fields and activities of GIS technique with concerned organisations:

Field of applications Activities Organisations
Agriculture Monitoring, evaluation and management BARC, SRDI, MOA
Environment Monitoring, modelling and management for land degradation weather and climate modelling, prediction and forecasting river and coastal erosion modelling flood management SPARRSO, EGIS, SWMC, DOE, MOA, CARE
Health Areal distribution of different diseases in relation to environmental factors ICDDR,B DPHE
Forestry Management, planning map prepare for site specific matching DOF
Regional/Local planning Development of plans, maintenance, management infrastructure development programme, Land Registration Rajuk, DLRS, SPARRSO, LGED, CARE
Research and education Different sites problem solution from personal to national level Educational institutions and Consultant Organisations
Resource Management, planning, monitoring, recording SPARRSO, DOF, BCAS, EGIS, LGED
Social studies Demographic trends and developments analysis BBS, Educational institutions
Transport network Planning and management RHD, LGED, SOB
Others Thematic mapping, Topographical mapping, Site and Location Information, Services, Consultancy etc. SOB, LGED, DLRS, WARPO, Banglapedia, different firms/companies

Current trend In Bangladesh Agro-ecological Zoning (AEZ) method is important in finding the rational solutions of various problems like soil fertility constraints, landuse changes, land degradation assessment and possible control measures of land resources for planning at sustainable level. AEZ also provides the techniques to spatially discriminate areas with unique combination of physiography (landscape, geology) soil, hydrological and agro-climatic characteristics. The databases of AEZ collected from 1980 to 1987 are housed at BARC computer centre, Dhaka. It is now being used to generate readily accessible information on the land resources of the country for researchers, extension workers and decision-makers of land and agricultural resources management as well as agricultural development planning. This database constitutes the foundation for a new effort to develop a comprehensive multiscale GIS based Land Resources Information System (LRIS). The LRIS also includes additional databases on socio-economic and demographic factors influencing agricultural production.

GIS based flood-forecast models (MIKE-11) have recently been developed in Bangladesh. MIKE-11 and its GIS interfaces are suitable for application at the planning, design, implementation and operation levels. In the planning and design phase, the MIKE-11 system is a valuable tool for determining flood control and drainage structure operation rules, and providing inputs to flood preparedness programmes. At the implementation stage, MIKE-11 may be useful for a range of needs from scheduling flood prone construction works to a flood preparedness training aid.

Recently several alleviation schemes have been proposed to get rid off water logging problems of Dhaka City and a pilot hydrodynamic drainage model using GIS technology is made for low-lying parts of the city. Similarly, Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and SWMC's MOUSE model have also been installed to evaluate the various alleviation schemes.

Arsenic researchers of the country are also applying GIS technology for detailed arsenic contamination mapping, modelling the related physical processes of arsenic contamination and for formulating a watershed management strategy using mathematical modelling techniques. [Mohammad Abdul Hadi]


Development

In 1960, Roger Tomlinson was working at Spartan Air Services, an aerial survey company based in Ottawa, Ontario. The company was focused on producing large-scale photogrammetric and geophysical maps, mostly for the Government of Canada. In the early 1960s, Tomlinson and the company were asked to produce a map for site-location analysis in an east African nation. Tomlinson immediately recognized that the new automated computer technologies might be applicable and even necessary to complete such a detail-oriented task more effectively and efficiently than humans. Eventually, Spartan met with IBM offices in Ottawa to begin developing a relationship to bridge the previous gap between geographic data and computer services. Tomlinson brought his geographic knowledge to the table as IBM brought computer programming and data management.

The Government of Canada began working towards the development of a national program after a 1962 meeting between Tomlinson and Lee Pratt, head of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI). Pratt was charged with creation of maps covering the entire region of Canada's commercially productive areas by showing agriculture, forestry, wildlife, and recreation, all with the same classification schemes. Not only was the development of such maps a formidable task, but Pratt understood that computer automation may assist in the analytical processes as well. Tomlinson was the first to produce a technical feasibility study on whether computer mapping programs would be a viable solution for the land-use inventory and management programs, such as CLI. He is also given credit for coining the term "geographic information system" and is recognized as the "Modern Father of GIS."

CGIS continued to be developed and operated as a stand alone system by the Government of Canada until the late 1980s, at which point the widespread emergence of commercial GIS software slowly rendered it obsolete. In the early 1990s, a group of volunteers successfully extracted all of the data from the old computer tapes, and the data made available on GeoGratis.


Geographic Information Systems: City Mapping Requirements

For further information, e-mail us directly from your forms-capable browser.
Other e-mail and contact information may be found below.

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City Mapping Requirements

Maps are shown in alphabetical order of their common names with some cross-referencing for convenience.

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Address Sheets

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By-Law Maps

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Cadastral Maps

Scales: 1:100, 1:500, 1:1000, 1:5000.

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Central Business District

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City Maps

New: Christmas light locations, Weed and pest control routes and schedules, Park maintenance zones, U-Lot zones, Roadside ditches and boulevard maintenance routes and schedules, Retaining walls, Playgrounds, Joint general plans (with County), Growth areas, Assessment rates and Assessment details, Comparable properties,

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Community Services Maps

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County Maps

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County Subdivisions and Hamlets.

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Contour Maps

New: Means to predict flows and areas at risk in event of dangerous goods release (liquid or vapor).

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Dams, Creeks and Bridges

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Intersections

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Lane Improvements

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Lanes

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Photographs

Scales: 1:1000, 1:5000, 1:10000, 1:20000.

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Railroads

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Regional Planning Maps

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Registered Plans

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Road and Street Construction Project Maps

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Road and Street Improvement Project (Overlay and Upgrade) Maps

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Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer Maps

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Sanitary Sewer and Water Maps

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Sanitary Sewer Project Maps

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Sidewalks and Curbs

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Sidewalk Replacements and Improvements

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Sketch Plans

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Storm Sewer and Water Projects

Usage: Frequent. Scales: various.

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Urban Parks

New: Mowing routes and schedules, maintenance routes and schedules, Nursery layouts, refuse collection routes and schedules, tree watering and pruning routes and schedules, Irrigation systems, Planting plans, Structures, Amenities, Signs, Benches, Trees, Contour lines, Drainage patterns,

Usage: Occasional. Scales: various.

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Utilities, Non-City

Usage: Seldom. Scales: various.

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Utility Sheets

Usage: Frequent. Scales: 1:100, 1:1000.

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Wastewater Treatment Facility

Usage: Very rare. Scales: various.

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Water Projects

Usage: Frequent. Scales: various.

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Water, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer Projects

Usage: Frequent. Scales: various.

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Water Supply Projects, Pump Station and Reservoir

New: Fire hydrant locations (without showing underground lines, for Fire response planning and training).

Usage: Very rare. Scales: various.

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Water Treatment Plant (Drinking Water)

Usage: Very rare. Scales: various.

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Go to list of pages highlighting Geographic Information Systems.
Go to list of pages highlighting Reports of Business Process Imrovement Teams.
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RateCenterInfo&trade Canada 2020

Rate Centre Service Areas, Area Code /

Exchange (NPA/NXX), LATA

Coverage: National - Canada

Geographic Data Type: Polygons, Points, Flat file Database

Datum: Longitude / Latitude WGS84

Year: 2020, Monthly Releases

Contact us for licensing options

The RateCenterInfo&trade Canada data set solution contains the boundaries that define the service area for NPA/NXXs in Canada, enabling users to accurately determine the Area Code/Exchange (NPA/NXX) combinations and service providers within specific rate centers. This data set combines precise geographic rate center boundaries with specific information about the NPA/NXXs operating within each rate center. RateCentreInfo&trade allows robust market analysis of Carriers and the Rate Centres where they operate or drill down and analyze the competition within a particular Rate Centre. With the increasing pace of Rate Centre consolidation and Area Code additions, keeping up to speed is essential. Rate centres have become the telecom region of choice for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs), Cable Telephony Operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Wireless Carriers when determining areas of operations and number assignments.

The data set is organized into 3 individual files: Rate Centre (regions) Rate Centre (points) and NPA/NXX lookup table (database). The file is useful for: determining the rate centers for ordering NPA/NXXs Identify central offices for co-location Assign customers to the correct rate center for new service Perform market and competitive analyses to understand the competitive pressures at a click of a button Enable market planning including number inventory, demographic analysis and local number portability Perform market research, competitive analysis and network planning.

Pitney Bowes builds and maintains this dataset based on data inputs from federal, provincial and municipal level proprietary sources, Telcordia&trade LERG&trade Routing Guide (LERG)-Special Data Products (SDP) and uses rigorous methodology, extensive research, ongoing customer feedback mechanism and monthly update process ensure that the communications infrastructure databases are the most accurate, dependable, current databases of their kind. The dataset is regularly maintained and updated on a monthly basis. Annual, semi-annual, quarterly and monthly data updates are available.

Variables: Rate Centre (regions) covers Rate Centre Name, ID, Alternative Rate Centre Name, V/H and X/Y coordinates Rate Centre (points) covers Province, Territory, Rate Centre Name, Alternative Rate Centre Name, V/H and X/Y coordinates NPA/NXX lookup table (database) contains NPA, NXX, Start Range, End Range, Province, Territory, Rate Centre Name, Alternate Rate Centre Name, Rate Centre ID, Locality Name, Operating Company Number, Operating Company Name, Operating Company Category and LATA.

Rate Centre Service Areas, Area Code / Exchange (NPA/NXX), LATA

Rate Centre Service Areas, Area Code / Exchange (NPA/NXX), LATA


Fall 2012

Some events, like birthdays, weddings, and graduations, are easy to mark on the calendar. Others, like the beginning of a social movement or a language&mdashor the invention of GIS&mdashare harder to pinpoint. However, the confluence of three pivotal events in 1962 and 1963 makes this as good a time as any to celebrate a half-century of GIS.

The first event was the establishment of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI) in 1962. CLI set out to produce about 1,500 maps of land use and land capabilities at 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scales. Though the maps were made by traditional manual methods, Roger Tomlinson (then employed by Spartan Air Services of Ottawa) convinced the head of CLI that computers could be used to automate map analysis. CLI invited Tomlinson to define the functional requirements of what would later be called the Canada Geographic Information System. His carefully considered use of the qualifier "geographic" caught on and has created opportunities and challenges for the discipline of geography ever since.

The title page of Roger Tomlinson's 1962 paper that started the work on GIS in the Government of Canada.

In August 1963, just as Tomlinson delivered his feasibility report to CLI, Edward Horwood of the University of Washington organized the First Annual Conference on Urban Planning Information Systems and Programs. Within a few years, that event became the annual conference of a new organization called the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Urban and Regional Information Systems eventually became known as geographic information systems, and the 50th annual URISA conference&mdashnow called GIS-Pro&mdashtook place in 2012.

Horwood spent most of a month at Northwestern University in 1963 teaching a short course about computer handling and mapping of census data. One participant in that course was Howard Fisher, an architect who taught planning and design at Northwestern. Fisher was inspired to develop his own computer mapping system and, with the help of programmer Betty Benson, soon developed a working prototype called SYMAP. With a grant from the Ford Foundation, Fisher later founded the Laboratory for Computer Graphics at Harvard, where he oversaw an important strand of the evolution of computer mapping into GIS.

The first known published use of the term Geographic Information System in August 1968.

Whether we choose these milestones or others as the origins of GIS, the fact remains that GIS has come a long way, baby, in a relatively short period of time. Its impact extends far beyond the hundreds of thousands of GIS professionals at work around the world. The recent Penn State-Public Broadcasting video series Geospatial Revolution dramatizes the far-reaching impacts of GIS and related technologies on how we think, act, and interact. At its 50th anniversary, GIS has itself become a kind of movement and a kind of language.

Original Documents

Digital copies of Roger Tomlinson's original feasibility report and related documents are available (by kind permission of the author) in the sidebar below.

For more information, contact David DiBiase, director of education, industry solutions, Esri (e-mail: [email protected]).

Sources

Chrisman, Nick. 2006. Charting the Unknown: How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS. Esri Press.

Tomlinson, Roger. 1998. "The Canada Geographic Information System." In Timothy Foresman, ed. The History of Geographic Information Systems: Perspectives from the Pioneers. Prentice Hall.

Further Reading

The following are some of Roger Tomlinson's original documents from which grew the important and exciting field we know today as GIS, as well as a new article written by him about the origins of the Canada Geographic Information System:


See Also - Related Information Sources

Go to list of related links at bottom of page.

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Go to Contact Information page for Engineering GIS Team.

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Development [ edit ]

In 1960, Roger Tomlinson was working at Spartan Air Services, an aerial survey company based in Ottawa, Ontario. The company was focused on producing large-scale photogrammetric and geophysical maps, mostly for the Government of Canada. In the early 1960s, Tomlinson and the company were asked to produce a map for site-location analysis in an east African nation. Tomlinson immediately recognized that the new automated computer technologies might be applicable and even necessary to complete such a detail-oriented task more effectively and efficiently than humans. Eventually, Spartan met with IBM offices in Ottawa to begin developing a relationship to bridge the previous gap between geographic data and computer services. Tomlinson brought his geographic knowledge to the table as IBM brought computer programming and data management.

The Government of Canada began working towards the development of a national program after a 1962 meeting between Tomlinson and Lee Pratt, head of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI). Pratt was charged with creation of maps covering the entire region of Canada's commercially productive areas by showing agriculture, forestry, wildlife, and recreation, all with the same classification schemes. Not only was the development of such maps a formidable task, but Pratt understood that computer automation may assist in the analytical processes as well. Tomlinson was the first to produce a technical feasibility study on whether computer mapping programs would be a viable solution for the land-use inventory and management programs, such as CLI. He is also given credit for coining the term "geographic information system" and is recognized as the "Modern Father of GIS."

CGIS continued to be developed and operated as a stand alone system by the Government of Canada until the late 1980s, at which point the widespread emergence of commercial GIS software slowly rendered it obsolete. In the early 1990s, a group of volunteers successfully extracted all of the data from the old computer tapes, and the data made available on GeoGratis.