Environment Canada Takes Winning Approach to Information Management

ESRI-Based Enterprise Web Mapping System Provides Cost-Effective & Efficient Platform for Making Information Available Both Internally and Externally

TORONTO – ESRI Canada User Conference – October 4, 2011 – Protecting the environment requires monitoring land, sea and air conditions, as well as human activity that impacts these resources. It involves collecting, producing and sharing a large amount of data with government agencies, scientists and the public.  To efficiently support these processes, Environment Canada built an enterprise Web mapping system based on ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) that has centralized data and mapping applications across the organization. ESRI Canada today presented Environment Canada with an Award of Excellence in GIS for their outstanding use of the technology.

“We deal with increasingly complex and changing environmental issues that require a diverse set of sciences and collaborative solutions,” says Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada. “Web mapping is a cost-effective way for communicating critical information timely to a broad audience. While Environment Canada has been leveraging this successfully for years, they've taken it to a new level by integrating their numerous mapping applications into one system.  It's an intelligent approach to information management that will allow them to deliver better, more consistent and faster services.” 

Environment Canada has used ESRI technology since 1996 to support their activities including assessing environmental risk, issuing weather forecasts and warnings, understanding ecosystems, supporting conservation and enlightening policy. They conduct research on various concerns such as climate change, meteorology, weather, air quality, water, nature and wildlife. Previously, they developed separate Web mapping systems to address each specific concern. This resulted in numerous disparate systems and data silos that were costly and time-consuming to build and maintain.

To increase efficiency, they leveraged the powerful integration capability of ESRI's ArcGIS technology to centralize their mapping systems. This has allowed them to create and maintain numerous mapping applications, as well as address multiple concerns using only one Web mapping system. It has also reduced costs and increased the speed of developing applications by allowing them to re-use existing data, map and application templates – which they are able to easily modify according to their end users' needs. For example, they include detailed scientific data in Web maps such as the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators, which is used primarily by scientists; while Web maps geared towards the general public, such as the EcoAction Community Funding Program, present high-level environment information.

“Getting information timely into the hands of the public and scientists around the world is a priority we've been able to meet effectively using Web mapping,” says Terry Simmons, manager, Corporate Services Branch, Environment Canada. “We recognized that we could provide even more efficient services by shifting towards an integrated enterprise Web mapping system. Now, we can easily re-use what we have to create new applications that can help the public make informed decisions about the environment. ESRI technology is one of the key building blocks in our enterprise architecture and it's opened up new opportunities for us to take advantage of emerging technology. We're really excited about the potential applications we can build using GIS in the future.”  

The system has provided Environment Canada with the ability to design and produce Web maps that are accessible to the blind and visually impaired, enhancing their access to a wealth of environment information. Going forward, they also plan to leverage cloud GIS technology to obtain more IT cost savings and make their applications even more accessible.

For more information on ESRI's ArcGIS technology, visit esricanada.com/products/arcgis.

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About ESRI Canada
Founded in 1984, ESRI Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography.  The company distributes the world's leading GIS software from ESRI, Telvent, Cityworks and other technology partners.  Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the top 250 Canadian IT companies and top 25 IT professional services providers in Canada by the Branham Group. Information about ESRI Canada can be found at esricanada.com.

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Published Tuesday, October 4th, 2011