CIER Receives ESRI Canada’s Award of Excellence in GIS

(General News, Protecting Lands and Waters)

On October 15, 2009, ESRI Canada presented
an Award of Excellence to CIER for leveraging geographic information
system (GIS) technology to establish an environmental risk reporting
system and promote the use of GIS within First Nations. The award was
presented at the 2009 ESRI Regional User Conference in Winnipeg.

“ESRI Canada’s solutions have been helping organizations in public
and private sectors for 25 years to make more informed environmental
decisions and achieve sustainability,” said James Wickson, Vice
President of Sales and Professional Services, ESRI Canada. “We commend
CIER for its leadership and vision in using GIS technology to monitor,
protect and preserve First Nation resources and increasing
collaboration among communities and governments.”

CIER initiated the Fuel Storage Tank and Waste Site Inventory Assessment Project
in 2007 focusing on First Nations in Ontario, with federal funding from
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). The goals of the project are
to: obtain a complete assessment of fuel storage tanks and waste sites
in First Nations in Ontario; assess the environmental risk and dollar
value associated with this risk for fuel storage tanks and solid waste
disposal sites; draft management policies on storage tanks and waste
sites; and establish 3- and 10-year action plans to meet these
policies. The project commenced in Spring 2007 and will be completed in
Spring 2010, with all 135 First Nations in Ontario having been
investigated for inclusion in the inventory.

CIER required a comprehensive GIS to collect global positioning
system (GPS) points and add spatial data for fuel storage tanks and
waste disposal sites in each First Nation and its respective reserve.
CIER chose ESRI ArcGIS technology because it delivers a complete suite
of GIS software that provides a scalable platform for spatial analysis,
data management and mapping.  It also supports the sharing of
geographic information and GIS capabilities on servers, desktops,
mobile devices and over the Web.

CIER partnered with Map It Out Inc. and KGS Group to
develop the necessary tools, and used ArcGIS to build an inventory
collection and risk-reporting system. This involved gathering spatial,
qualitative and quantitative data, conducting data quality assurance
testing, entering spatial information into a Web-based application
powered by ArcGIS, and assigning symbols representing each site’s
condition. The resulting application supports the prioritization and
development of action plans for site remediation and replacement of
at-risk fuel storage tanks.  All of the data collected is accessible to
INAC and First Nations through a website, providing pertinent and
current information that can be used to support decision-making related
to the management of these sites.

“Being able to make decisions based on spatial data has
significantly enhanced decision-making in our organization,” said
Steven DeRoy, Research Associate and GIS Specialist, CIER. “ESRI GIS
has improved our capacity to help First Nations understand, analyze and
act on the environmental issues affecting them.  The success of this
project opens up many opportunities to apply GIS in other areas of our

ArcGIS has also enabled CIER to automate data entry, significantly
reducing the costs of site inspections from $7,000 to $3,500 per site.

The fuel tanks and waste disposal sites assessment project has
become a model for future CIER projects to draw upon in the areas of
housing, drinking water and wastewater management. CIER also plans to
expand the geographic scope of site inventories to enable risk
monitoring of First Nation reserves across Canada using a single GIS

For more information about ESRI ArcGIS technology, visit: