Posted in New thinking

The Geographic Sciences and Regional Development

Imagine you are a movie maker, and you have been charged with marketing the Annapolis Valley.

You discover that the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown has world-class expertise in the application of geomatics technologies to geographic issues. Given the current state of these tools, how could your movie be enhanced ?
First, by Geographic Sciences, we include a range of methodological tools. Historically, this would be map making (cartography) and the interpretation of aerial photographs. Today, we would expand the list to cover a wide range of remote sensing (e.g. satellite imagery), the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones, networks of climate sensors, as well as airborne and bathymetric LiDAR. We would include Geographic Information System (GIS), software which permits the integration of multiple layers of geography in a digital and web-based environment. At COGS, there are also other complementary programs in Surveying, Planning and IT.

Given this rich array of technologies, how might COGS assist in marketing the Annapolis Valley geography?

  1. We could ensure access to high-quality maps. This might include historic maps from the Walter Morrison collection. It might include early satellite imagery showing the changes in the land cover in the region, e.g. agriculture and forestry.
  2. Since Cartography is also a digital science, we would want to ensure the best quality design for display both on-line and in a traditional paper format.
  3. GIS is an integrating technology. It allows the viewer to interrogate the landscape on many levels at the same time. For example, we could have an interactive map of the Valley. The user could identify transects across the landscape and then move the cursor along the transect. Whenever there was a change in soil, land cover or geology, a window would pop up with the details. Or imagine hovering over a place name and a pop up shows you the demographic profile and other economic facts about the community.
  4. Another feature of GIS is the ‘story map’ concept. To explain the diversity of residents in the region, we could create a point layer (dots) of video interviews in the Valley. Each dot would be classified or coloured, according to the type of interview e.g. topics, age group of the interview subject. Click on the dot and watch the video or listen to a podcast.
  5. The combination of GIS and Remote Sensing allows the user to ‘fly through the landscape’. The topography can be seen in three dimensions with current imagery draped over the surface. We could create a series of ‘fly through’ transects from South Mountain to the Bay of Fundy, at Annapolis Royal, Middleton, Kentville, Windsor.

By combining modern film techniques from different airborne vehicles, delivering high quality online cartographic products and experiences, we could showcase innovative Valley regional development. Our stories become embedded into the digital landscape.

I challenge our citizens and communities, then, to market the Annapolis Valley through geomatics technologies, the type we have at COGS in Lawrencetown, as a part of our economic development, tourism and heritage-building process and build our quality of place.

Thanks to Edward Wedler for his creative graphic and comments on earlier draft.


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