Map of Devastating 2003 Heat Wave in the Netherlands Observed from MODIS Satellite. Mehdi Aminipouri (PhD Candidate in Geography at SFU)

GIS Day 2023: cohosted by SFU Library and SFU Department of Geography

About the day 

GIS Day is an annual worldwide celebration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and community.


GIS Day 2023 Schedule and Selected Recordings & Materials

Morning Session: Presentations & Lightning Talks 

Session 1:  

9:15 to 9:30 Welcome 

9:30 to 9:50  Flood Inundation Extent and Volume Mapping of the 2021 Nooksack River Floods using Remote Sensing and GIS, Ian McDonald 

 | You can download the slides

9:50 to 10:10 Hurricane Harvey Hazard Risk Index – Harris County, Jessica Li  

 | You can download the slides 

10:10 to 10:30 Break (refreshments provided)

Session 2:  

10:30 to 10:50  Mapping the Variable Impacts of Zoning Restrictions on Housing Costs, Nathan Zemp 
 |   You can download the slides or   watch the recording.

10:50 to 11:10 Trucks with Lazers - Enhancing Human Driver Perception with Extended Reality and Real-Time Data, Jay H. Matsushiba  
 |   You can download the slides (when available) or watch the recording.

11:10 to 11:30 Break (refreshments provided)

Session 3:  

11:30 to 11:50 Mapping Canadian Community Initiatives Addressing Transport Poverty: What I learned as a new ArcGIS Online User, Helena Lin/ Dr. Meghan Winters/ Dr. Kate Hosford
 |   You can download the slides or watch the recording.

11:50 to 12:20 Lightning talks:

Exploring Equitable Bike Share: Mapping Vancouver Bike Share Access Across Neighbourhoods, Kate Hosford and Christine Yanagawa 
 |   You can download the slides or watch the recording.

Co-Creating Connected Communities: 15-minute Neighbourhoods in Surrey, BC, Aayush Sharma  

 | You can download the slides

GIS Programs available at SFU, Tessa Haywood 
 |   You can download the slides or watch the recording.

12:20 to 13:00 Lunch Break (on your own)   

Afternoon Session: Career Panel 

13:00 to 14:00 Career Panel   

14:00 to 14:30 Networking Break (refreshments provided)

14:30 to 15:00 GIS Quiz (with prizes!)  CANCELLED

Presenters and abstracts 

Ian McDonald, Department of Geography
Presentation title: Flood Inundation Extent and Volume Mapping of the 2021 Nooksack River Floods using Remote Sensing and GIS 
Abstract: In November 2021, a series of atmospheric rivers caused the Nooksack River in Washington, USA to spill over its banks, resulting in a massive flooding event in both the United States and Canada. This project seeks to map the extent of this flooding event over time using remote sensing technology, specifically Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which has a unique ability to collect imagery in adverse conditions, including rainstorms. Flooding inundation extent maps generated are then overlaid to digital elevation models (DEMs) in order to calculate flood water depths and volume. Spatial analysis is then performed to investigate why flood water drainage rates are faster in some areas and what measures can be taken to prevent future flooding events from causing such catastrophic impacts on human and agricultural lands. The methodology used in this project is designed to be simple, transferable, and rapid in order to assist policymakers and emergency managers throughout the duration of future flooding events (e.g. deciding which areas to evacuate and evaluating which areas would benefit from emergency infrastructure). 
Jessica Li, SFU Facilities 
Presentation title: Hurricane Harvey Hazard Risk Index –Harris County
Abstract: Natural hazard, such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floodings, can cause various treats as they damage our communities, destroy livelihoods, and pose danger to human activities. GIS has become an important tool for emergency management professionals. 
This project aims to help Dr. K.Y. Fung, a geo-science researcher from the University of Texas at Austin to investigate if the Local Climate Zone Urban Classification Scheme is suitable for simulating hurricane events by using GIS to identify high risk neighborhood and find the relationships among hazards, exposure, and social vulnerability index in Harris County in the case study of Hurricane Harvey. 
Nathan Zemp, School of Resource and Environmental Management(REM)
Presentation title: Mapping the Variable Impacts of Zoning Restrictions on Housing Costs
Abstract: Zoning is a municipal planning tool used to control where certain types of buildings can be built. Originally introduced in North America as a tool of racial and class segregation, it has since become standard practice in most municipalities. Because it limits the building of high-density housing in desired neighbourhoods, strict zoning has been linked to the precipitous rise in housing prices in global destination cities, including Vancouver. For my Master’s research project, I am quantifying the effect of zoning on housing prices in cities throughout B.C., with the aim of informing urban planners of its severe effects. While the bulk of my analysis is conducted using R, I use GIS for effective communication of my results. By mapping variation in the zoning effect, I show that the costs of zoning are not borne equally, with high demand neighbourhoods showing the greatest distortion in housing prices. However, I also communicate that the effects of zoning are not contained within the cities that have most severely restricted development within their borders. High home prices have spilled out of Vancouver into the Fraser Valley, and have now rippled elsewhere in the province due to iterative displacement of residents seeking cheaper housing. When I publish my research, the maps I have created to display my results will add regional context and local interest to my findings.
Jay H. Matsushiba, Department of Geography

Presentation title: Trucks with Lazers - Enhancing Human Driver Perception with Extended Reality and Real-Time Data
Abstract: Operating and navigating large vehicles through unpaved and unprepared environments is extremely challenging, posing potential dangers such as obstacles, limited visibility, and long rescue response times. Canada’s wilderness is extremely extensive, and will be undergoing substantial shifts due to climate change and other human disturbances. Simultaneously, there is a strong demand from diverse sectors to gain greater access to and produce data products of Canada’s wilderness. There has been continued development to improve the capabilities of off-road vehicles, but limited efforts towards novel ways to support the drivers themselves. Currently, real-time data collection capabilities and the emerging Extended Reality (XR) interfaces are rapidly maturing and becoming more accessible. This presents a unique opportunity to explore the intersection between 3D data collection and extended reality design in complex wilderness environments. No one has yet demonstrated the use of XR to support analytical visualization of LiDAR sensor data in civilian off-road vehicles, especially with the aim of enhancing the driver’s situational awareness. In this talk, I will provide an overview and progress report of my thesis project to investigate how combining LiDAR technology with the emerging XR interface technologies could deliver new capabilities in real-time spatial visualization and augmented human perception in challenging geographic environments.

Helena Lin/ Dr. Meghan Winters/ Dr. Kate Hosford, Faculty of Health Sciences 

Presentation title: Mapping Canadian Community Initiatives Addressing Transport Poverty: what I learned as a new ArcGIS Online User
Abstract: My presentation will describe my reflections and process of creating a web map in ArcGIS Online as part of a project with Mobilizing Justice. It will provide an overview of the Mobilizing Justice partnership and how the map supports efforts to advance transport equity in Canada. The second part of my presentation will showcase the different ArcGIS Online features that I used to create the map. I will also discuss the roadmaps/challenges that I encountered along the way. I will conclude with my learnings and reflections as someone new to GIS. The purpose of the presentation is to share my experiences, encourage people interested in learning GIS, and to highlight the important work that Mobilizing Justice is doing and how this map supports it.

Kate Hosford and Christine Yanagawa, Faculty of Health Sciences 

Presentation title: Exploring Equitable Bike Share: Mapping Vancouver Bike Share Access Across Neighbourhoods
Abstract: In 2016, the City of Vancouver launched its public bike share system, Mobi by Shaw Go (Mobi), to provide people with a convenient, flexible, and affordable mode of transportation for their daily trips. Bike share docking stations were initially installed in and around the downtown core to reach the largest number of people.
Between 2017 and 2022, Mobi implemented numerous changes to reduce barriers to bike share. One of these changes included the geographical expansion of its service area to reach a more diverse range of neighbourhoods. In partnership with the City of Vancouver, we conducted a socio-spatial analysis of the service area expansion to determine whether the new stations added resulted in a more equitable distribution of bike share access across the city’s neighbourhoods.
In this presentation, we will share how we mapped Mobi’s expanded service area using two equity indicators to gain a better understanding of where access has improved in the city and which gaps to more equitable bike share still exist. Our findings suggest that while the service area expansion has helped to reduce the gaps in bike share access for equity-deserving populations in Vancouver, inequities still exist . We will briefly explain how our socio-spatial analysis findings have informed our project’s next steps.

Aayush Sharma, Faculty of Health Sciences 

Presentation title: Co-Creating Connected Communities: 15-minute Neighbourhoods in Surrey, BC
Abstract: Auto-centric urban design harms our health and the climate. To address this, cities are adopting the "15-minute neighbourhood" land-use planning concept, where all necessary amenities such as homes, work, shopping, healthcare, schools, and entertainment are within a 15-minute walk, bike ride, or transit from one's home. Adopting such policies is meant to support sustainability, transport, and liveability goals. However, although the 15-minute neighbourhood approach may resonate in European cities or the densest downtown cores of the world's major cities, it is uncertain how feasible it is in the Canadian suburban context. Our study explores accessibility to amenities and how this intersects with equity in Surrey, BC, using a 15-minute neighbourhood framework. Home to 580,000 residents, Surrey is amongst BC's fastest-growing and most culturally diverse communities but experiences some of the greatest social inequities, such as increasing housing unaffordability and lack of sustainable mobility. Under these pressures, city staff are exploring how to plan for an equitable future. In partnership with the City of Surrey, we are mapping 15-minute neighbourhoods and using community-engaged research (CER) methods to develop a community-informed definition of a 15-minute neighbourhood. This presentation will showcase access to amenities in the context of 15-minute neighbourhoods in Surrey, discuss the value of CER methods in city planning, and demonstrate how social inequities relate to accessibility. Our work advances research and practice by using GIScience approaches alongside CER to advance social equity in urban planning and draws attention to equity considerations within broader and increasingly popular concepts of sustainable urban planning in Canadian cities.

Tessa Haywood, Department of Geography

Presentation title: GIS Programs available at SFU
Abstract: A brief overview of the GIS major, minor and certificate programs in the Department of Geography. 

Career Panel 

Join us as we listen to a panel of GIS professionals from various sectors, including geomatics and GIS technology or consulting companies, as well as government. The panel will cover these topics:

  • Advice on job-seeking and professional development
  • How technology and geospatial data are being used to tackle complex challenges
  • The future for GIS professionals


Peter Keller, Professor, SFU Department of Geography   


Jonathon McIntyre   

Chief Technology Officer, i-Open 

Jonathon is a Geographer and Chief Technology Officer for the i-Open Group and has worked with spatial data and data integration for over 30 years.  Over that timeline, he has worked across multiple industries including Resources: Forestry/Mining/Agriculture,; Utilities: Telecommunications & Oil and Gas; Municipal: Cities and Real Estate and the common thread has been spatial data access and integration. Recently, he and his team have been part of the Standard Data Platform for Autonomous Agriculture team at the Digital Technology Supercluster for the past several years. During this time, they have worked with the consortium to provide a data platform (Agrilyze) to industry and academics that allows data collection, access, aggregation, anonymization, mapping, analysis of varied data sources such as Federal/Provincial datasets, imagery (from drone/satellite), IOT devices in a simple, secure and easily accessible way. The team continues to look for ways to support growers to leverage existing data or incorporate new data in easier, more cost-effective ways. He is happiest when he's out exploring and photographing the REAL part of the world he maps. 

Brendan Walashek, GISP, AdDipGIS  

GIS Branch Manager, McElhanney  

Brendan manages a branch of 16 GIS Technicians and leads the development of implementing GIS technology across multiple sectors. He has over 22 years of experience in GIS and web mapping applications, as well as 3D visualization. His expertise covers a wide range of GIS custom applications, internet mapping solutions, mobile GIS, data analytics, and 3D visualization movies for various applications (proposed highway design, impact assessment, and asset management). Brendan has been the GIS Lead on dozens of large-scale projects, many from the oil & gas sector, consisting of multiple components from data collection, QMS, analysis, internet / mobile mapping, and delivery. 

Lauren Smith  

Experienced GIS Specialist and current SFU master's student in REM 

Lauren is a trained GIS Specialist who has been working with Esri products for nearly a decade. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Victoria, double majoring in Geography (Geomatics) and Environmental Studies. Following her undergrad, Lauren went on to work as a GIS professional and has experience in multiple sectors, including municipal government, environmental consulting, and non-profit organizations before returning to school to pursue a master's in resource and environmental management (Planning) here at SFU. Currently, Lauren is in her second year in REM researching urban green space connectivity and quality assessments for wildlife support and is also working as a GIS Coordinator for the Beaver Hills Biosphere and Land Stewardship Centre of Canada non-profit organizations. She has a keen interest in using spatial data tools to aid in conservation strategy development and plans to continue to use GIS in her planning career. 

Herman Louie  

(Acting) Manager GIS & Engineering Systems, City of Burnaby 

Originally starting his career as a draftsperson employed with local engineering firms, Herman does not have the traditional background of a degree or formal GIS education.  With continuing education, learning each job from the ground up, Herman is now (Acting) Manager GIS & Engineering Systems with the City of Burnaby.  Passionate about changing mundane workflows with innovative mapping technology, he has implemented some notable projects, including MMCD Civil 3D Asset Management Standards and developing the Automation of Burnaby BCOneCall System.  

November 15
Bennett Library (Room 7200)