Q&A: Esri Canada’s GIS Centres of Excellence Initiative

Last week Esri Canada announced the first of its GIS Centres of Excellence (press release). I asked for a bit more detail on the initiative.

How were these institutions selected? Did organization submit applications? Did Esri Canada just appoint them?

Institutions were selected to provide a geographical spread across Canada.  We leveraged our existing relationships with  universities which we knew have the capabilities for this initiative and offered advanced degrees and specialist programs in GIS

Is this initiative based on another one from Esri or another software vendor?

This is a unique program in Canada.  It is loosely formed from the Esri Inc. (U.S.) Esri Development Center (EDC) but adapted for a Canadian focus and to build a community for GIS focused Canadian schools.

What sort of support/encouragement is Esri Canada providing to the schools? What are the schools expected to do in return? SFU notes: the initiative " will enable us to expand our research and teaching capacity in GIS. In addition, access to scholarships, competitions and conferences would benefit our graduate students."

Esri Canada is providing participating schools access to the Developers Summit, grant and funding opportunities, dedicated website for developer Web based resources, collaboration opportunities with other schools, participation in the app contest and student employment/placement opportunities.  The schools also receive developer licensing for grad students, complementary instructor training courses along with freely accessible resources to educators and students including planned content, assignments, lectures, software licenses, developer network and technical support.

How will Esri Canada measure the success of the initiative?

The goal of the program is to lift the bar on the work coming from GIS programs, specifically in growing the online and mobile capacities of GIS applications.  Success will be based on overall engagement, satisfaction and in interest in the program from both students and teachers.

Is the student challenge basically a hackathon? From the PR: "Each year students from member Centres will have the opportunity to form teams and participate in a weekend app development challenge using Esri technology and spatial data from selected government open data portals." Has Esri Canada held one for students before?

The student competition is still in the very early stages of planning but is not meant to be a hackathon.  Participants will be working on a common problem and datasets to develop an application.  The top Canadian will compete against the U.S. EDC.

Published Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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