Ministry Uses Web GIS to Improve Access to Geographic Information on Agricultural Crown Land, Promoting More Effective and Sustainable Policies and Practices
REGINA – October 1, 2010 – ESRI Canada today presented an Award of Excellence to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture's Geomatics Services Group for improving access to the province's agricultural spatial data using ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) technology. In 2008, the Ministry launched the Agricultural Crown Land Map Viewer, an online mapping application that allows the public to search and view information and imagery of government-owned agricultural land. This has enabled the Ministry to support better decision making among internal and external stakeholders and promote sustainable development. The award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the application of GIS, was presented yesterday at the 2010 ESRI Canada User Conference in Regina.
“The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture serves as a good example of how governments can use GIS on the Web to cost-effectively disseminate important information to other government agencies and to the public,” said Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada. “Through their online map viewer, government and industry decision makers are able to obtain up-to-date, accurate information they need in an easily accessible format. This allows them to effectively formulate policy and design sustainable practices to further develop the province's thriving agricultural community.”
The Geomatics Services Group provides GIS services within the Ministry of Agriculture to analyze land-related information from an agricultural perspective. During the growing season, they generate numerous public maps based on data from over 230 crop report volunteers who report on soil and crop conditions, precipitation and frost, winter feed supply, and livestock water availability. The group has used ESRI technology for over a decade to manage geographic information on more than seven million acres of agricultural Crown land and over 80,000 land parcels in the province. Previously, agricultural Crown land data was presented on the Ministry's Web site in text and tabular formats. To make the data easier to access and understand, the group expanded upon an internal Web mapping application that it developed years ago and built the external facing Agricultural Crown Land Map Viewer.
The map viewer was developed in only three months using ESRI's ArcIMS technology, which enables the delivery of dynamic maps and data over the Web. It allows users to search agricultural Crown land by area of the province, relate results to other land parcels and geographic features such as roads, railways, urban centres, First Nations Reserves and provincial parks. It also displays satellite imagery that shows vegetation types, cultivated areas and topography. Maps generated are used to support various activities including monitoring agricultural productivity, planning municipal services, examining watersheds and determining real estate development. The application also supports the Ministry's Crown Land Sale Program by making it easy for farmers and ranchers to view agricultural Crown land available for purchase.
“ESRI technology has allowed us to deliver numerous applications for improving agriculture in the province,” said Brad Champagne, Manager, Geomatics Services Group. “It's a widely used technology in government and fits right into our current technology strategy, which is to enable province-wide sharing of GIS infrastructure and data. It's an honour to be recognized by our peers for the work we've accomplished these past years using GIS and we look forward to developing more applications to further benefit the agriculture industry in our province.”
Since launching the map viewer, the Ministry has received positive feedback from a wider user base, including oil and gas companies that now use the application to support exploration activities, utilities planning their networks and conservation agencies studying wildlife migration patterns. To further enhance its mapping capacity, the Ministry is upgrading to ArcGIS 10, the latest version of ESRI's leading GIS software suite. ArcGIS 10 will enable the Ministry to accelerate application development and deliver more applications to a larger number of users.
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, Azteca Systems 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.