My last blog looked at the Smart ICE project and its implications for other parts of Canada. This has led to a number of realizations, concerning the role of post-secondary educational institutions and today’s technology in a global context.
In 1986, we redefined the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute as the College of Geographic Sciences. We dropped the provincial epithet and expanded from land surveying to geographic sciences. Geographic Sciences included Cartography, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Community Planning, as well as the associated computer programming and technology (the story of COGS )
By 1996, COGS had become a part of the autonomous Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). COGS was redefined at a Centre of Geographic Sciences. In this same time frame, in the United States, with NSF funding, Drs Goodchild, Marble and Frank had established the National Centre for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). It was a network structure including UC Santa Barbara, SUNY, Buffalo and University of Maine, Orono. Elsewhere, in Europe, UNIGIS was offering online programs in the Geographic Sciences.
Imagine the following scenario, COGS could have been expanded to form a network of campuses of the University of Geographic Sciences (UGS). This would permit technical resources to be applied to a wide range of geographic issues across the country. It would build on Canada’s history of innovation in Remote Sensing and GIS. Today, we could use the network to understand a wide range of geographic issues by monitoring and modelling different conditions. Smart ICE would be one example. We can imagine other contributions to our understanding of the boreal forest, or ocean management. Because of the geographic extent of the country, there are many opportunities to observe changes in land, sea and air. This natural laboratory, supported by a network of technical institutes could provide insight and offer solutions to a number of pressing global issues: climate change, urbanization, alternative energy sources.
On the cultural front, Canada has access to a multitude of views of the land, sea and their associated resources. This can be generalized, as a diversity of interest in community mapping.
It is not too late to build a National University of Geographic Sciences (UGS). Part of the network would include campuses in the Arctic and Boreal Forest.
What would be the technologies today ?
- Geographic Information Systems
- Remote Sensing
- Sensor networks
- UAV’s (drone technology)
- Community Mapping
- Survey Engineering
- Information Technology
- Place-based Artificial Intelligence
What would be the sciences/systems today ?
- Computer Sciences
Canada, with its geographic extent, diversity of landscapes and cultures, continues to offer the opportunity to study and understand the condition of our global systems. By investing in a National post-secondary technical education network, the country would be making a major contribution to our understanding of these global systems, but also, be supporting the well-being of its citizens in this dynamic global environment. It would be efficient in terms of costs, speed/catalyst of innovation and degree of ingenuity.
Time to step up to the plate.