The ERSI Story Maps team has made a story map explaining all the different publicly regulated lands in the United States called The Lands We Share: America's Protected Area. It made me think about the importance of these natural spaces and how they can enrich the lives of those who actively participate and engage with their landscapes.
I love the outdoors and have enjoyed hiking since I was little. I've enjoyed hikes in Frontenac Provincial Park and along the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. In the United States I've hiked at Watkins Glen State Park and Buttermilk Falls State Park in the Finger Lakes region on New York. I also love spending time on the water and one of my favourite activities is to go kayaking at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in Florida.
For me, interacting with nature brings me a sense of peace and I find it a good place to reflect. Often, especially when I am kayaking, I am reminded of the powerful forces that are the wind and water and I can marvel in how we have harnessed them and manipulated them for our own needs. There is no doubt in my mind that in the future I will visit many more wonderful and parks that teach me to be more appreciative of the Earth we have been blessed with.
One of my favourite educational YouTube channels SciShow recently posted a video on map projections. The video gives a good introduction into why we use map projections and explains how different map projections distort Earth, whether by area, shape or direction. We all know how much hate the Mercator projection gets for how it grossly distorts size, and I enjoyed how the video made note that the Mercator does have its positive aspects: maintaining shape and true direction.
SciShow focuses on the whole world in this video, but map projections are also an everyday consideration when making regional or local maps. You're probably not going to want to use the same projection to plot Russia, which mainly spans east to west, and Chile, which spans north to south.
What's your favourite map projection?
I learned a lot about working with GIS professionally at Frontenac County. It was a privilege to be a part of a great team! I was able to work on a variety of maps and projects, from digitizing zoning maps to taking a geospatial inventory of many of the county's cemeteries.
The county is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. I have many fond memories of hiking the Frontenac Provincial Park and biking along the K&P Trail! If you want to learn more about Frontenac County, check out their online GIS Frontenac Maps.
Working at Loyalist Township gave me one of my first chances to create static maps that the public would use. As of writing this post, they are still up on the Loyalist website!
Looking back, there are definitely cartographic elements I would improve. For example, I would choose a more standard font and I would try to make the colours a little bit brighter. Other than colour, the only symbology change I would make would be to the wetlands layer. A more conventional symbol, like the one shown to the right, would stand out more and help the reader understand what the feature is without having to look at the legend.
On the township wide All Parks map, I would definitely take advantage of the ESRI's Key Numbering labeling method. I wish I had known about it back then!
Check out these maps here! What are your critiques of the maps?
When I was working at Loyalist Township last summer I was doing some editing when I noticed something that made me exclaim in amazement: "these were taken at the same time!"
When my supervisor asked why I was surprised I told him that our aerial imagery matched perfectly with Google Streetview for a cemetery in Wilton. This isn't unusual, as one would expect, cemeteries don't change too much, but this was more than just tombstones. He came over to my desk and I pointed out that all the cars in the imagery were in the same place as in Streetview, as was the recycling yard waste across the street and a rather large pile of flowers on the ground.
What really gave it away were the cars. They wouldn't be parked in those locations regularly on the side of the road. Both the airphoto crew and Google car had both captured a burial, and since those don't typically last a long time, they probably took their images within about 30 minutes of each other. A cool coincidence that I had never thought had the chance of occurring or even detecting.
My supervisor and I immediately told the rest of our department and the other GIS analyst in Engineering. We even did some more digging and hypothesized the exact date based on when the imagery was flown and the recycling day for that street, in combination with the fact that the yard waste had not been picked up yet. We even spent some time looking for the Google car in the imagery, but to no avail.
Realising that these images were taken at the same time is probably one of the most interesting and shocking things to have happened to me in my short career. It isn't groundbreaking and probably isn't even uncommon. But it is really really neat. Cool even. And I hope to be telling this story for a long time.