“Where are we?” - Don’t worry people, I’m a Geographer!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Recently our department had a progress meeting to get an idea of how our summer projects are coming along. It was great to share with my coworkers all the things I have been doing, since sometimes we’re very discrete and have no clue what the person next to us has been assigned.

I was happy to report that most of my projects were nearing to an end, waiting for translation or for various responses from different people on campus. However, I realized that a massive chunk (I doubt you could even call it a “chunk” because it is so huge) of what I have done this summer was not even asked of me back in May. Yes, I am talking about mapping.

If you don’t recall from way back in January when I started working here, I am in Geography and Environmental Studies here at the University of Ottawa. This Geography stuff includes the use of Geographic Information Systems software such as ArcMap 10. In plain English, I map things digitally because answering spatial questions is what Geographers love to do. Just thinking about x,y coordinates and geoprocessing tools makes me smile contentedly. Okay, so maybe not so much but it does if Jon asks.

So, I cannot even really recall where these mapping projects came from. I know that the first one was for the Emerald Ash Borer beetle in Sandy Hill and that I was plagued with CC’d emails when I went on vacation in June, returning to discover that I had been lent out to Eric Crighton (a Geography prof and member of Action Sandy Hill) to work on mapping the ash tree species and places that would be ideal to plant more trees (because the EAB are on a murdering spree). I finished this map and it will be used by Lauren (his student) and me as we go door to door, offering up pamphlets on EAB and tree planting projects.

Cut to new scene: Nancy from the Geography library met with Jon and me about green maps of campus. We decided to start with a Sustainable Transportation map which entailed gathering coordinates of bike racks, taxi stands, bus stops… everything transportation related. Jon is now finishing the symbols for these features which all have their own attribute tables, feature tables, layers etc, etc. YAY ME for surviving through days of hair pulling trying to make my own data and get it onto a map.

Next scene: sitting in the Centre for Students with Disabilities office with Jon and Hannah discussing accessibility maps of campus. Sigh, this project is just beginning but we have sorted through some important features to represent and gathered ideas of how to lay out this map because it requires different floors of buildings on campus. Katimavik actually spent a few hours yesterday recording which doors are accessible, which is helpful because inputting and formatting data is time consuming enough without gathering it all by myself. Thanks, Katimaslaves.

Phewww, mapping is taking over my life. I shut my eyes at night and see Excel sheets full of lat and long coordinates (in decimal degrees of course!) and I have a feeling I am muttering about appropriate merges and clips that I should use in my next base map… On the bright side, I am so acing my Advanced GIS course next year, thanks Jon (I guess).


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