Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre Receives URISA Ontario Best Public Sector GIS and Innovation in GIS Awards

Innovation Centre becomes six-time URISA Award recipient

May 11, 2012: The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) today announced that the organization’s Community Geomatics Centre has been recognized by URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association), the premiere non-profit organization for the use and integration of spatial information. SSMIC accepted two awards, URISA Ontario Best Public Sector GIS Award and Innovation in GIS Award, on May 9th at URISA’s “Be Spatial” conference in Toronto, Ontario.   

The URISA Ontario Best Public Sector GIS Award is designed to increase the awareness of the use of GIS in improving effectiveness and efficiency of public sector operations.  Previously known as the “Best Municipal GIS in Ontario Award,” its name was expanded to Best Public Sector GIS in order to include all levels of government and other public sector agencies.

Innovation in GIS is intended to recognize individuals or organizations that demonstrate a new or refined innovation in the fields of GIS and geospatial technology. This award is intended to provide an opportunity for members to showcase a specific piece of work or a project.
SSMIC won the Innovation in GIS Award for their work on the Vulnerable Persons Registry (VPR). The VPR improves the safety of residents by providing immediate access to key registrant data which in turn improves the quality of services offered by local first responders, PUC Inc. and Canadian Red Cross. SSMIC uses the GIS to capture, maintain and disseminate registrant data to authorized users.
SSMIC previously won the URISA Best Municipal GIS in Ontario Award in 2003 and 2006, and is the recipient of URISA Ontario Best Public Sector GIS in 2009. The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre’s Community Geomatics Centre is the only four-time winner of the award. 

“We would like to thank URISA for these special awards and their ongoing recognition of GIS excellence,” said Tom Vair, executive director, SSMIC. “Our team at the Community Geomatics Centre is passionate about improving our world through GIS and it is great to see them recognized for all their innovative and hard work.”

The CGC developed an Integrated Community Geomatics System (ICGS) which served as a large scale, multi-enterprise GIS solution for the Municipality and the Public Utilities Commission of Sault Ste. Marie.  The ICGS model has been recognized as one of the most advanced community GIS implementations and provides tangible benefits by improving municipal operations and streamlining processes.   The ICGS has since evolved into what is now recognized as the world’s first true Community Information Utility (CIU).  An information utility provides informatics services such as data sharing and data analysis for almost all organizations within a community. 

This new model resulted in cooperative, efficient and cost-effective sharing of information amongst community organizations and partners, including the health, education and social agency sectors.  With the emergence of a CIU, the analysis of shared information has led to significant improvements in the overall health, public safety and operational efficacy of the community.  Sault Ste. Marie exemplifies a successful Community Information Utility model which other municipalities look to replicate.   

The CGC is the recipient of several awards, including: URISA Innovation in GIS Award (2012), Esri Canada Award of Excellence (2012), International ESRI Health Communication Award (2008),ESRI Canada Special Achievement in GIS Award (2007), Leadership in the Field of GIS in Ontario (2006), ESRI Award of Excellence for GIS in Health Care (2006), Best Municipal GIS in Ontario (2003 & 2006) and the Most Comprehensive Municipal/Utilities GIS in Canada (2003).
For more on URISA Ontario Chapter, visit 

About the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre's Community Geomatics Centre

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre was founded in 1999 and serves as a catalyst for growth in the IT, science and knowledge-based sectors in the Algoma District. Through its Community Geomatics Centre (CGC), it has developed and maintains one of the world's most comprehensive community-based GIS, connecting more than 60 partners and thousands of layers of data from various sectors. The CGC forms private and public sector partnerships and provides GIS, data analysis and integration services for use in government, utilities, health care, social services, education, emergency response and economic development. It has been recognized internationally for its unique community information utility model and advanced work in the health and human services sector. For more information, visit 


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