GIS Day 2019

GIS Day is an annual worldwide celebration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and community. GeoAwareness Week is an annual event highlighting the importance of geographic and spatial literacy and education. This year UBC Library, UBC Faculty of Forestry, and UBC Advanced Research Computing are organizing two events during GeoAwareness Week:

Introduction to R as a tool for mapping and spatial analysis – Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

This is a beginner-intermediate level of R workshop that introduces the use of R software for handling spatial data. We will discuss the advantage of R in displaying and analyzing the GIS objects (e.g., shapefile and raster), and demonstrate the basic statistical analysis through an example. Participants are required to bring their own laptops having R and R studio installed. Installation of several R packages (e.g., rgdal, sp, raster, and ggplot2) is also encouraged.

Workshop will be delivered by Hyeyoung Woo – Ph.D. candidate, Biometrics lab, Department of Forest Resources Management, The University of British Columbia.

Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Location: Presentation Room, Koerner Library, Room 552

Registration is required and seats are limited.


GIS Day Presentations – Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Please join us at UBC Library for this year’s GIS Day celebrations featuring several GIS- and map-related presentations, as well as a social gathering afterward at Koerner’s pub. Coffee and refreshments will be provided during the event, but lunch will be on your own.

Time: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, with social gathering @ Koerner’s Pub immediately after. A detailed program is below.

Location: Digital Scholarship Lab, Koerner Library, Room 497

Registration is encouraged and appreciated, but not required, and registrants are free to come for portions of the day as their schedules permit. Communications about the event will be sent via email, so stay tuned for more information leading up to the day. Coffee and refreshments will be served.


Full GIS Day Program

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Coffee and Refreshments

9:30 am – 9:40 am


9:40 am – 10:30 am

Keynote Presentation
Mapping Is Not Enough: and the need for community engagement.

Victor Temprano – Founder of and CEO of Mapster, the popular website mapping Indigenous lands, has stimulated conversations and provided open information about traditional territories for over four years now. Yet, we feel we are still at the beginning of our project. The non-profit now running the site has a clear directive: make the site one that is by Indigenous people rather than about Indigenous people. While mapping has proved a powerful tool to engage the public in much-needed conversations about land, this talk will largely focus on Native Land’s plans as we continue to grow.

10:30 am – 10:40 am


10:40 am – 11:10 am

Map-based Research Data Discovery: The Geodisy Project

Paul Dante – Software Developer, UBC Library

Mark Goodwin – Metadata Coordinator, UBC Library

With increasing demand for geographic components in research, there is an opportunity for research data repositories to provide alternatives to text-based searching. The goal of the CANARIE-funded Geodisy project is to create an extensible open-source software method to discover Canadian geospatial research data using a map interface. In this session, we will share the project design and our progress toward normalizing various metadata sources into discoverable geospatial metadata.

11:10 am – 11:40 am

Vancouver Green Bus Atlas

Agatha Czekajlo – MSc Student, Integrated Remote Sensing Studio, UBC Faculty of Forestry

The Vancouver Green Bus Atlas, UBC’s 2019 Esri Canada GIS Scholarship winning project, classifies the amount of trees lining Vancouver’s bus routes. Using Google street-view imagery, the level of tree greenness portrays what we experience day-to-day. Bus routes were ranked according to their overall (median) greenness and its variability (standard deviation). Providing commuters with greener views can benefit their well-being and encourage continued use, thus helping reduce carbon emissions and reach sustainability goals.

11:40 am – 1:00 pm

Lunch on your own

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Mapping urban trees with deep learning and street-level imagery – a story of geospatial open source software

Stefanie Lumnitz – MSc Candidate, UBC Faculty of Forestry

I believe that Geographical Information Science can greatly benefit from open source methods and developments in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision. In this talk I will demonstrate how we can map and classify urban trees from street-level imagery like Google Street View in order to support proactive and informed decision making for urban greenspace management. I will share lessons learned on the application of deep learning and open source software in GIS for urban forestry.

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Forget Points and Polygons: Let’s Talk Place

Bruce Muir – Senior Environmental Planner, West Moberly First Nations

This presentation introduces a study that uses a place-based approach to map the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Indigenous hunters in northeast British Columbia relating to mineral deposits (licks). Traditional practices and the conventional approach of environmental management are juxtaposed to illustrate effectiveness. Preliminary findings suggest that the approach improves the depiction of TEK, including how spatial information and the interrelations are represented as points, lines, and polygons so that places are accurately mapped.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Designing a Geographically Expressive Map for the Rockies

Jeff Clark – Principal and Map-making guy @ Clark Geomatics

In designing a map of one of the world’s most magnificent places I wanted to evoke a sense of awe of the wild landscape. To advance geographic interest in and awareness of these grand wilderness areas I decided to create a map that is attractive, tells a story and is geographically expressive. By focusing on visual clarity and precise communication of details to engage readers, it provides a sense of place. Having the map included in the NACIS Atlas of Design was a bonus.

2:30 pm – 2:40 pm

Break with Refreshments

2:40 pm – 3:10 pm

Turning old data into big data: a spatiotemporal history of ecosystem services across British Columbia

Ira Sutherland – PhD Student UBC Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Jeanine Rhemtulla – Assistant Professor, UBC Faculty of Forestry

Ecosystems contribute to human wellbeing through cultural experiences, the provision of food and timber, and the regulation of hydrological flows and climatic conditions. However, ecosystem services are dynamic and subject to declines and occasional collapses, especially on a rapidly changing planet. We aim to monitor the dynamics in multiple ecosystem services across all of British Columbia over the past 100 years. Our compilation and analysis of historical data will offer insight into how management and policy approaches have increased and, in other cases, destabilized ecosystem services throughout the history of British Columbia.

3:10 pm – 3:40 pm

Digitization in Context: Map digitization at the City of Vancouver Archives

Sharon Walz – Digital Archivist, City of Vancouver Archives

Digital Archivist Sharon Walz discusses the City of Vancouver Archives’ ongoing digitization efforts, with specific reference to the institution’s cartographic holdings and the challenges and opportunities that can arise at the interface between archival practice and non-traditional uses.

3:40 pm – 3:50 pm


3:50 pm – 4:20 pm

Designing a geospatial pedagogy for the Anthropocene: Bridging landscape architecture and geography through GIS

Douglas Robb – PhD Candidate, UBC Geography

David Zielnicki – Instructor, UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture

Geography and Landscape Architecture share a longstanding
history through Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). However, this history often overlooked in design and cartographic education. Our presentation reflects upon the disciplines’ shared commitment to GIS theory and practice through the lens of a single course taught by two instructors (one a landscape architect, the other a geographer). We argue this fundamental, but undertheorized relationship merits deeper consideration in the context of climate change and the Anthropocene.

4:20 pm – 4:50 pm

Reproducible geo-spatial analysis based on census and other Canadian data

Jens von Bergmann – MountainMath Software and Analytics

We showcase reproducible workflows to access and analyze Canadian census and other geospatial data using open source packages in R. Canada’s high-quality fine-geography census data offers opportunity for interesting data analysis, but also presents challenges. This talk walks through an example analysis, where we pull in multi-year census data, make it comparable through time, run an analysis, and deal with problems like spatial autocorrelation as they come up.

4:50 pm –

Social Gathering at Koerner’s Pub

For more information please contact Evan Thornberry (evan.thornberry[at]

Esri Canada GIS Scholarship 2019 Winner: Agatha Czekajlo

This year’s winner of the Esri Canada GIS Scholarship is Agatha Czekajlo, an MSc student in the Integrated Remote Sensing Studio (Forest Resources Management Department, Faculty of Forestry, UBC). Her submission, the Vancouver Green Bus Atlas, classifies popular city bus routes according to their greenness – a measure that Agatha argues has positive impacts on riders’ well-being.

The Vancouver Green Bus Atlas uses Google Street View imagery as a source for street tree locations along popular Vancouver bus routes. Google Street View, Agatha believes, provides a more relatable measure of street-level greenness than aerial or satellite imagery-derived data because it more closely reflects what riders at street-level actually see.


Agatha was asked to reflect on her project and write a short summary of her work and inspiration. Here is what she had to say:

My ESRI Canada GIS Scholarship project entitled Vancouver Green Bus Atlas compares the amount of trees, and their distribution, along each Vancouver bus route. As someone who’s commuted up to 3 hours a day to UBC during my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I’ve had my fair share of transit experiences. While having a choice between several buses I found that I often enjoyed the routes that took longer but had more trees and greenery to see along the way. In literature, transit experiences are typically summarized using objective measures of accessibility and rarely investigate the overall experience. I thought it’d be interesting to investigate the difference in Vancouver bus greenness using recent Google street-view imagery to calculate the fraction of trees along each route. My assumption is that if routes have more trees, and are therefore greener, riders will have a more positive experience and will be more likely to take that route again. Showing which bus routes are more or less green can help the City of Vancouver prioritize resources to encourage more transit use in order to meet sustainable goals, such as reducing carbon emissions by 2050.

Ultimately I wanted to make sure the graphics I created were easy to understand, yet effectively explored the diversity of greenness along bus routes. For the spatial analysis I performed several data filtering and spatial statistics functions in ArcMap, such as Generate Points Along Line, Split Line at Point, Spatial Join, and Field Calculator. I chose to showcase bus route greenness using two maps. Firstly, the greenness spectrum map broadly illustrates how green each bus route is by showing the median tree fraction. The greenness matrix map, which shows the standard deviation of tree fractions in relation to the median tree fraction for each route, indicates the route’s level and variability of greenness. I also included more detailed maps of three routes, the #49, #99, and #10, which represent the most, average, and least green routes in Vancouver.

What I found most surprising was that the greenest bus route is the #49, one of the busiest in Vancouver. Coincidently this is also a route I would occasionally take home and enjoy. I think my results indicate that having greener bus routes, even busy ones, is possible in Vancouver, and investing in more trees along bus routes will benefit commuters as well as all Greater Vancouver citizens.

Esri Canada’s annual GIS Scholarship aims to support multidisciplinary studies with a focus on GIS at UBC. The scholarship awards a currently enrolled student with several prizes with the hopes to support them as they continue their studies as well as while they consider their post-graduate and career paths. Several dedicated student scholarship submissions are ranked annually according to several aspects of GIS and cartography including clarity, innovation, and graphic presentation. Congratulations to Agatha for her winning submission!

Esri Scholarships – 2019 (Deadline: March 22)

Submissions are open for two scholarships offered by Esri Canada

Esri Canada’s annual GIS Scholarhsip

Award recipients receive $2000, ArcGIS software, books, and training and networking opportunites.
More info: Esri Canada GIS Scholarship 2019

2019 International Esri Young Scholars Award

Applications are due March 22. The Esri Young Scholars Award program was launched in 2012 to recognize the exemplary work in geospatial sciences of undergraduate and graduate students at universities around the world. It is offered by Esri in cooperation with its international distributors. Any full-time student or recent graduate from an undergraduate or graduate program at a Canadian college or university who has completed a project or research using Esri technology are eligible to apply. The award includes registration, transportation costs, hotel and per diem to attend the Esri User Conference and Education Summit @ Esri UC in San Diego where the Young Scholars display their work and interact with other Young Scholars.
More info: 2019 Esri Young Scholars Award announcement and FAQ

For more information about Esri’s scholarships, visit:

GeoAwareness Week and GIS Day, 2018

GIS Day is an annual worldwide celebration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and community. GeoAwareness Week is an annual event highlighting the importance of geographic and spatial literacy and education. This year UBC Library, UBC Faculty of Forestry, and SFU Library are organizing celebrations on two days during GeoAwareness Week:

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Intro to Geospatial Data with R, Carpentries Workshop

This workshop will cover how to open, work with, and plot vector and raster-format spatial data in R. Additional topics include: working with spatial metadata (extent and coordinate reference systems), reprojecting spatial data, and working with raster time series data. There are limited seats for this workshop, so register sooner than later.

Time: 9:00AM — 5:00PM with a break in the middle.
Location: Simon Frasier University, Harbour Centre Campus, Room 1415.
Cost: FREE!*


* All participants must register to reserve a space. If you register and cannot attend, failure to cancel before November 6th will result in a $25 fee.

** This is a special registration form for non- “” email addresses. Those with an “” email address can register using the “More Info” link above.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

GIS Day Celebrations

Please join us for this year’s GIS Day celebrations featuring several GIS- and map-related presentations, as well as a “mappy hour” social at Malone’s Social Lounge and Taphouse. Coffee and snacks will be provided during the event, but lunch will be on your own downtown. Everyone is welcome!! Speakers include:

  • Keith MacLachlan, Esri Canada, Welcome remarks
  • Alan McConchie, Stamen Design
  • Sarah Bell, Esri PS Cartography Lab
  • Steven DeRoy, The Firelight Group
  • Sue Bigelow, City of Vancouver Archives
  • Sharon Walz, City of Vancouver Archives
  • Yuhao Lu, UBC Faculty of Forestry
  • Sunny Mak, BC Centre for Disease Control
  • Megan Meredith-Lobay, UBC Advanced Research Computing
  • Jerome Mayaud, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, and School of Population and Public Health
  • Aateka Shashank, SFU Geography and SFU Library Research Commons
  • Kimberly O’Donnell, SFU English and Digital Humanities Innovation Lab

Time: 10:00AM — 5:00PM with Mappy Hour after at Malone’s Social Lounge and Taphouse.
Location: Simon Frasier University, Harbour Centre Campus, Room 1600.
Cost: FREE!


Information for the same event can also be found here on SFU’s website.

For more information please contact Evan Thornberry (evan.thornberry[at]

Esri 2018 technical videos now available

The 2018 Esri UEarth with sci-fi data overlayser Conference Technical Workshops are now available for you to view. Watch them free of charge on Esri’s Youtube playlist.

If you prefer print to video, or you simply want both,  you can also access the PDF versions of the PowerPoint slides from each workshop on the Esri Events Proceedings page.

The offerings cover a wide variety of topics and levels of expertise. Here are just a few highlights:

Submit a (John) Speed Presentation Proposal

Presentations will be held at SFU’s downtown campus on GIS Day during GeoAwareness Week, 2018 EXTENDED Deadline for submission: October 12, 2018

Image courtesy of Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center

John Speed’s A new and accurat map of the world, courtesy of Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center

Are you working on a project or research involving geographic information systems (GIS), geospatial data, cartography, or maps? Are you interested in sharing your knowledge and work with the larger SFU and UBC geospatial community? We want to hear about it and encourage you to present on GIS Day 2018! This is an opportunity to share your work, network with local colleagues, and soak in a spectrum of geospatial activities.

GIS Day is an annual worldwide celebration of GIS technology and community. SFU Library, UBC Library, and UBC Faculty of Forestry are partnering to provide this year’s celebrations on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at the SFU Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver. More information about the day including the agenda will be available soon and linked to from this page.

Each presentation will follow the same format – 7.5 minute presentation = 15 slides x 30 seconds each. This format allows presenters to focus on essential content and engaging slides while giving the audience a chance to see several presentations on a wide range of topics. And – equally important – this format is fun. These presentations were inspired by John Speed – 16th Century English cartographer who published widely iconic maps and atlases of England and the world. Speed had nothing to do with presentations, but he did make maps and we like his name.

Please submit your expression of interest by filling out the form below by 12 pm noon on Friday, October 12, 2018 (extended). The description of your presentation is the most important piece of your submission, but we ask that you limit it to no more than 500 words. All submitters will be followed up with by Sunday, October 14. If you have any questions about these presentations or GIS Day 2018, please contact Evan Thornberry (evan.thornberry[at]

DEADLINE for submission: October 12, 2018 (extended)

UBC Vancouver Campus Orthophotos for 2018 are here

High resolution orthophotos for UBC-V Campus 2018 are now available on Abacus. These images provide complete coverage of campus and limited surrounding area at 10cm per pixel – fine enough to see view the details of buildings, vegetation, and other ground features. Images were processed by McElhanney Consulting Services of Vancouver and released by UBC Vancouver’s Campus and Community Planning Department with Public Domain License.

UBC Vancouver Campus Orthophoto 2018

Orthophotos from this dataset are downloaded in ZIP format, which once extracted contain a TIF file with detailed imagery, as well as several side-car files essential to use in GIS software – such as an OVR pyramid file and world file. The uncompressed TIF file can also be used in image editing software if not needed for geospatial processing or analysis.

The image files are organized and distributed for download on a grid. This index map represents the grid layout complete with file names to help you determine which name covers what area of campus.

Click on an area below to see it’s tile ID number, then download the correct tile in Abacus.

Summer internship for graduate students

The UBC Sustainability Scholars Program is an innovative paid internship program that matches UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on projects that support the advancement of sustainability in the region.

A paid part-time summer internship available for a current graduate student with GIS experience. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled or April 22 (whichever comes first). Information about salary and how the program works.

The full job description is available below as a PDF:

2018-59 GIS Interoperable Database for Community Impact Real Estate Society April 2018