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President's Year End Message

December 24, 2023 1:39 PM | Sandra Crutcher (Administrator)

I hope this message finds everyone well, and that you are looking forward to spending some quality time with friends and loved ones over the holidays.

As the year winds down, I love to look back on what we accomplished as an organization in 2023, as well as looking ahead to the New Year. Let’s start with a bit of a retrospective.

For myself, as well as the BeSpatial Management Team, 2023 was somewhat of a milestone year, as it represented the fulfillment of our commitment to return in-person events. While we plan to we continue to plan to continue holding the AGM virtually, due to the ability to reach a much greater audience of members, we also pledged to hold live regional events, in response to our member’s and industry partner’s desire to reconnect with live networking opportunities. We staged two events since our 2023 AGM, one in Kingston at the end of June, entitled “Learn What I Learned”, as well as another event in Cambridge in late October, around the theme of “Leveraging Geospatial data for Health and the Environment”. We had a positive turnout for both, and I wish to thank not only those that attended and the Management Team members who organized and hosted, but also the great selection of speakers, panelists, and sponsors for their incredible support. 

I’m also pleased to announce that we have two in-person events planned for our Northern Section in 2024, but more on that in a moment. We did have some changes in our Northern Section, with James Dorland stepping down as Section Co-Manager. However, I’m pleased to announce that Karen Lehtonen with Acorn Information Solutions, a division of the Sault Ste-Marie Innovation Centre, has agreed to take up the mantle, and joins Angela McEachern as a Co-Manager of this large and relatively sparsely populated, but mighty, region. Karen and Angela are already very busy planning our northern in-person live events. Given the geography of this section, we are committed to holding two events. The first will be held in Sudbury on January 30th, 2024 (details can be found at https://www.bespatialontario.ca/Events), and another planned for early June in Thunder Bay. Please keep an eye on our website and enewletters for more details. 

In addition to Karen joining the Board, we were delighted to have some new members join the board over the course of the year. Jax Vollmer and Jenn Gross have agreed to co-manage our BeSpatial Annual Event, while Jackie Smith has taken on the Communications role. All three are employed at GM BluePlan, who is a Silver sponsor for the coming year. We are incredibly grateful to them and GM BluePlan for the support. We also welcomed Jessica Hobbins as our new YPN Manager. Jessica works as a GIS Analyst with Peterborough County, and is a recent YPN member as well. She understands the challenges with being a recent grad and pursuing a passion for GIS; she is doing a great job guiding our Young Professionals Network members.

BeSpatial Ontario is also excited to announce that we have entered into a new partnership with Pathfinders Exploration Community to sponsor a year of engaging Pathfinder’s podcasts. This collaboration brings our members 24 episodes (2 a month for 2024) packed with expert insights, fostering professional development and innovation in the geospatial sector. It's an opportunity for our community to connect, learn, and make informed decisions using knowledge shared openly by GIS leaders across the globe. Check out pathfinders. Social for a journey of growth and discovery in the world of GIS!

All of us on the Management Team are already deep into the planning stages for 2024. In addition to our AGM in early May, we have also agreed to work with the Faculty and Students Association at Seneca College to provide a 1-day event in late February at one of their campuses, to help students within the School of Environmental and Civil Engineering technology, as well as other faculties, understand the power of geospatial analysis and how it can be a springboard to a rich and rewarding career.

As for our AGM, taking place on May 1-2, 2024 the Management Team has agreed to the theme of BePrepared – Bracing for Technological Breakthroughs and the World of Work. This theme has a dual connotation:

1.       Geospatial preparedness – understanding how new tools, datasets and technological innovations can help us, and…

2.       Preparing for the business opportunities that will arise from this understanding.

Registration is now open, and we hope to “see” many of you there.

In the meantime, we’re still staging our regular webinars, which continue to be a popular forum for sharing tips, tricks and trends in the GeoSpatial domain. I would just like to remind everyone that we still have a couple of webinars planned, both this week and next, where you can test your GIS and holiday trivia knowledge, and have some fun before many of us wrap up for the year.

On that note, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank our amazing community of members and sponsors for your continued support, and also take a moment to offer my humble thanks to everyone on the Management Team and associated committees that do the heavy lifting to keep you informed, enlightened, and coming back for more. From all of us (see below), to all of you, we wish you a joyous Christmas and happy holiday season with your loved ones, and much health, happiness and prosperity for the coming year.


Peter Hettstedt, President, BeSpatial







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We are recognized as the premier geospatial and information non-profit organization in Ontario. where members share their experiences through networking and program events for the use and integration of spatial data, information, applications and technologies that provide solutions and solve challenges in both the public and private sectors.


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