Students use GIS skills to help First Nation community map its water infrastructure
November 21, 2019

When Hannah Whiteside and Meagan Small started their Advanced GIS course in their third year of the Environmental Technology program, they were asked to choose a project to work on with a real-world client who needed help.

They chose to work with Moose Deer Point First Nation. They were eager to use their knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) to create informative maps and charts showing the general layout of the reserve’s water infrastructure.

Moose Deer Point is located in the Township of Georgian Bay and is home to about 200 residents. It received its first functional water treatment plant, water distribution system and water tower in 2010. Prior to that, the reserve was under a boil water advisory for more than 20 years.

Recently, residents have been concerned with deteriorating water quality along the shoreline with the development of cottages in the area.

How did Meagan and Hannah apply their GIS skills?

Hannah and Meagan went to Moose Deer Point with their professor Joachim Schmidt to meet members of the community they’d be working with. It was impactful for them to meet the people who would receive their school project.

“When you go there and meet the people, it makes you want to produce the best map possible,” said Hannah.

Hannah and Meagan spent more than 70 hours converting CAD files into GIS files. This meant taking hundreds of files with thousands of layers and converting the data into something useable. In the end, they produced maps that showed the relationships between all the water infrastructure points based on how the landscape rests today.

The community was really appreciative of their work and to have the maps they may not otherwise have been able to access.

Hannah and Meagan shared their project with industry professionals during the poster presentations at the annual GIS day conference hosted by Georgian College, the County of Simcoe and the City of Barrie. Each year, this conference takes place at Georgian and attracts 100+ professionals who want to learn about current GIS systems and how they can help our communities plan to manage water, sewers, 911 emergency systems, tornado mapping, and more.

Two women stand on either side of a TV screen showing their GIS mapping project at GIS Day
Georgian students Meagan Small (left) and Hannah Whiteside present their Advanced GIS project at the annual GIS Day conference.

Learn more about our Engineering and Environmental Technologies programs