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BeSpatial Event

Leveraging Geospatial Data for Health and the Environment

  • October 24, 2023
  • 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 700 Hespeler Rd, Cambridge ON


  • Full time student status or recent graduate seeking employment.

Registration is closed

Leveraging Geospatial Data

For Health and the Environment

BeSpatial is thrilled to announce the upcoming GIS forum on Leveraging Geospatial Data! This highly anticipated gathering will delve into the dynamic realm where Geographic Information Systems (GIS), health, the environment and geospatial data intersect, promising a day of insightful discussions and knowledge exchange.  This event aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts from various disciplines to explore and discuss the significant role GIS plays in addressing health-related challenges posed by the environment. Geospatial data is being applied across many areas in organizations as in health, the environment, public works, fire, police and so on. Regardless of the focus, valuable insights about handling geospatial data will be learned. Come out to hear how geospatial data can add value to your initiatives and inform decision making. 

Presentation abstracts are available below. Please share with your colleagues that may not be aware of BeSpatial events. 

Event Details:

October 24, 2023

8:30 am - 3 pm

Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 700 Hespeler Rd, Cambridge ON

Continental Breakfast, Lunch and Coffee Service is included

Registration fees:

Member $100

Non-Member $175 (Includes membership for remainder of the year) 

Student $75

Your contribution plays a crucial role in supporting the event and ensuring its success.


Morning Sessions:

Making space for health: The essential role of the GIS analyst in public health preparedness

Speaker: Alexander Watts, PhD, Industry Manager - Public Health, Esri Canada

In Canada, dynamic environmental challenges, like wildfires and infectious diseases, threaten public health. Climate change will intensify these risks. GIS analysts are crucial in supporting public health decisions by providing location intelligence and identifying environmental hazards. This talk highlights innovative spatial data use in assessing risks and showcasing success stories in health programs. Map dashboards by health teams demonstrate GIS tools' practical applications in identifying at-risk communities, analyzing health disparities, and promoting collaborative interventions. Join me to explore GIS's transformative potential in addressing evolving environmental health threats.

A Twenty Year Journey in using GIS in healthcare and Social Services

Speakers: Paul Beach, GISP Director of Geomatics and Data Services Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Karen Lehtonen Acting manager of Health and Social Services Projects Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre's Acorn Information Solutions (Acorn) is a unique Canadian not-for-profit organization promoting partnerships and technological means to share data, tools, and knowledge among community organizations for safer, healthier, and more prosperous communities. Acorn, recognized by the Federal Government in 2019, has over twenty years of experience as an early adopter of GIS in healthcare and social services. In 2007, it won a worldwide Special Achievement Award from ESRI Inc. for GIS use in healthcare. Acorn employs organizational partnerships, data-sharing agreements, public data aggregation, intelligent mapping, and solution-based analysis to inform decisions in health and social service delivery. The presentation will showcase two decades of GIS experience in healthcare and social services, discussing key examples, barriers, and success factors.

Burnout: Changing fire regimes and changing health threats for Indigenous Amazonia

Speaker: Hannah Flores, Undergraduate Student, University of Toronto

Recipient of the 2023 BeSpatial Nathan Adams Student Bursary Award, my Story Map, "In the Line of Fire," utilizes geographic data to depict wildfires encroaching into Amazonian indigenous lands up to 2022. The map categorizes fires into four classes, illustrating their impact on ecosystems and indigenous health. Featuring ten tribal nations, the map emphasizes diversity and urgency, revealing forced migrations exacerbated by COVID-19 and fire-related compounds. Targeting politicians within the Amazon Biogeographical Boundary, the Story Map advocates for indigenous policy reform. Originally a Story Map, this research evolved into an ongoing senior thesis at the University of Toronto, exploring air quality and health implications. Focused on the Indigenous Park of the Xingu (PIX), the study delves into changing fire regimes' effects on air quality and health, utilizing real-time data and GIS analysis. The project transcends its origin, addressing forest fire management, air quality preservation, and the well-being of indigenous communities and the broader population relying on the Amazon's integrity.

Supporting awareness of environmental racism in Canada using geospatial tools

Speaker: Carol McClellan, Digital Advisory, Software Development, Data & Geospatial Lead, Arup Canada and Raj Ubhi, GIS Analyst, Arup Canada

The ENRICH (Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequalities, Community Health) project, led by Dr. Waldron, focuses on environmental racism and social injustice in Mi'kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities. Arup collaborates by enhancing geospatial tools to align with Dr. Waldron's vision of raising awareness. Using the Esri suite, especially ArcGIS Experience Builder, Arup developed two map applications for historically disadvantaged communities.

Currently, a new Canada-wide map is in progress, aiming for community engagement beyond information sharing. Collaboration with Dr. Waldron and the Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice (CCECJ) involves tools like Survey123.

Afternoon Sessions:

Impacts to health equity from changes in Ontario, Canada’s regulation of alcohol, cannabis, and vaping product sales

Speaker: Shiran Zhong, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Western Ontario

In the past few years, Ontario, Canada, witnessed significant regulatory shifts in access to alcohol, cannabis, and vape products. Changes include a vaping-related advertising ban in January 2020, alterations to liquor license regulations in March 2020, and a surge in licensed cannabis retail outlets. A spatial accessibility model, with a health equity focus at the dissemination area scale, reveals increased access to alcohol and cannabis but reduced access to vape products. Socio-demographic factors in vulnerable areas influence health equity implications. Continuous monitoring is essential to understand consumption patterns and health outcomes tied to these changes.

Using GIS & Community Health Data to improve decision making

Speaker: Casey Price, SVP, Extended Channel, Environics Analytics

Leveraging GIS for Health and Environmental issues aligns with their spatial nature. Environics Analytics introduces the Community Health dataset, aiding GIS practitioners in strategic decisions. Public health units utilize it to pinpoint optimal locations for flu shot clinics, addressing low vaccination rates in specific neighborhoods. The dataset answers key questions, such as identifying municipalities for asthma treatment marketing or understanding the health profile of a region. Live GIS maps and insightful reporting in this session aim to enhance citizens' lives by delving into the dataset's details. 

Lost in Translation – An Information Management Perspective on GIGO

Speaker: Tracey Dal Bianco, Manager, Information Management Services, Toronto Public Health

Summary: Tracey Dal Bianco explores the intricacies of data analytics from an information management perspective. Highlighting the critical connection between system design, documentation practices, and recordkeeping, this presentation emphasizes the direct impact on data quality. In the world of analytics, it's a case of garbage in/garbage out, and Tracey's presentation illuminates potential pathways to achieve better quality data in the future.

Data to Web Tool: Building out national climate change & environmental online GIS tools

Speakers: Devin Tu, President, Affordable360 and Joey Joey Syer, Data Director, CANUE University of Toronto

Explore how Ontario organizations use geospatial web tools like Affordable360 to track environment, climate risk, and housing data. This tool integrates floodplain mapping, environmental heritage, properties, and public transit data for streamlined decision-making. Benefit from real-time data aggregation through the Affordable online platform, supported by the Federal CMHC program. Discover CANUE's tools for studying links between environmental factors and health outcomes, and HealthPlan. City's role in supporting equitable and healthy built environments.

What Awaits You:

Keynote: Alexander Watts PhD, Public Health Industry Manager, Esri Canada will be sharing his insight in the field of Public Health will be our keynote speaker.

Engaging Presentations: Esteemed speakers will share groundbreaking research, compelling case studies, and practical applications of GIS in addressing health and environmental challenges. Their valuable insights are sure to inspire you!

Networking Opportunities: Connect with fellow attendees who share your ardor for GIS, healthcare, and environmental solutions. Build meaningful professional connections and foster collaboration.

Interactive Q&A Sessions: Engage in lively and enriching Q&A discussions with our esteemed speakers. Pose questions and delve deeper into the GIS applications presented.

Best Practices: Immerse yourself in learning best practices from others showcasing the latest GIS tools and technologies. Witness firsthand how GIS is revolutionizing healthcare and environmental efforts.

Registration fees:

Member $100

Non-Member $175 (Includes membership for remainder of the year) 

Student $75

Your contribution plays a crucial role in supporting the event and ensuring its success.

Join the Movement: Together, let us be a driving force behind positive change and the pursuit of a healthier, more sustainable world through the power of GIS. We envision this event as a catalyst for innovative solutions and lasting impact.

Save the Date, Share the Invitation: Mark your calendars and extend our invitation to your peers and colleagues. Your presence will undoubtedly enrich the event, and we hope to see you there!

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