2017 Fall Conference

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2017 Fall Conference

October 23, 2017


Join us at the Manitoba Museum on October 23rd, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba for our annual conference.

Nominations for MGUG Award 2017 accepted at info@mgug.ca

Interested in sponsoring or having an exhibitor’s booth? contact us at info@mgug.ca or check out our Sponsorship Information

Hotel Information

Coming in from out of town?  We have you covered with two different hotels!

Rate is only available until rooms sell out, don’t wait to book your room!

Mere Hotel $139 (main floor) $149 (upper floor)  please quote 309014

Fairmont Hotel Starting at $159 please quote GISU1017

Eventbrite - MGUG Annual Conference 2017



Keynote speakers:



Bern Szukalski

Chief Technology Advocate and Product Strategist, Esri


Mapping the Future of GIS

Since ancient history, maps have been an important way to capture information and share it with others in a simple and understandable way. Maps have also been the fundamental building blocks of a GIS — they are a basic unit of information and the substrate for applying GIS tools and processes. As we look at the evolution of maps, we can also trace the evolution of GIS. GIS evolves along with technology advances in many different areas – data management (databases and data models), spatial analytics, sensor inputs (imagery and the Internet of Things), computing power (the Cloud), mobility (handheld devices and distributed computing), and automation (machine learning and Artificial Intelligence). These advances and new capabilities manifest themselves in the way we author and use maps, and how we apply them to tasks and problem solving. As we seek to solve more challenging problems, we see the future of GIS reflected in the maps we use. Maps are now engaging citizens, morphing to drive initiatives, are where we can share and measure our progress in meeting our future challenges.


Bern serves as a technical evangelist, technology advocate, and product strategist, working directly with Esri’s global user community and product marketing and development teams. He is currently focused on making GIS more widely available and shareable via the Web.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping the user community understand and become successful with new technologies, bringing feedback to development teams and driving software evolution, and lifting new products to success.




Jill Heinerth

Royal Canadian Geographic Society,


Mapping the Labyrinth

Exploration cave diver Jill Heinerth will share a dramatic multimedia talk about her experiences mapping underwater caves. As a member of the US Deep Caving Team, she was a part of the historic project in the late 1990s that made the first accurate 3D map of a cave system that was also linked to surface topography. She’ll share more recent efforts in 3D, VR, AR and AI robotic cave mapping that is destined for future work in outer space.


Jill Heinerth is a Canadian cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer, film-maker and Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Learn more about Heinerth’s various projects at her website Into the Planet.

The tremendous successes of the Victoria Strait Expedition and work by the talented dive team of the Canadian National Parks system has brought a new attention to the “other half” of Canadian geography – the part that is submerged beneath the surface of our lakes, rivers and oceans on three coasts. Canada is blessed with perhaps the most remarkable water assets on this liquid planet we erroneously refer to as “Earth.”



Featured Speakers:







Canadian Drone Regulations Now and the Future

Sterling Cripps, Canadian Unmanned

 The small drone industry has risen quickly over the past 5 years.  As these small systems operate in Canadian Domestic airspace, it is Transport Canada’s responsibility to ensure the safety of other airspace users and general public on the ground.  Since 2008 rules have been in place on how to safely operate these drones commercially but they have not been common knowledge.  Commencing in mid 2018 a new set of rules will be published in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR’s)  under it’s own section. (Section nine)

This lecture will discuss the current rules and take a look at what the future holds for the operation of small drones in Canada under the new regulations.


Sterling’s initial career spanned 24 years in the Canadian Military as a Naval Officer (Clearance Diver). He was the COO for the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (CCUVS), from 2007-2015 and delivered the first commercial drone training course in 2009.  Sterling is the President (2015) of Canadian Unmanned Inc. (CUI) which is an exclusive UAS training company with a committed focus on the growth of the small drone sector in Canada. CUI has trained over 2000 students in the safe operations of UAV’s in Canada.

He developed the UAS training manual “Unmanned” partnered with Aviation Publishers, Ottawa. This training manual was the first of its kind published for civil and commercial purposes in Canada.

Licensed to fly since 1981, he maintains a current Transport Canada Group 1 Commercial Pilots License. He has flown a wide variety of aircraft including the CT-114 Tutor and Bell 205 Jet Ranger helicopter as a student pilot in the Air Force.

He successfully developed over 700 Square miles of F Class Airspace for testing and training for Beyond Visual line of Sight (BVLOS) UAS operations at Foremost Alberta, the 6.5 year airspace project came to fruition in November 2014.

Over the past 8 years Sterling also served on numerous committees with Transport Canada, working on UAS airspace issues and he was a member of the committee which developed the current Knowledge Requirements for UAS operations below 25Kg within line of sight. (TP15263)

In November 2015, Sterling was the recipient of the “Pip Rudkin Award” for outstanding personal achievement  in the unmanned systems sector in Canada, voted on by the members of the Unmanned Systems Canada Association.




“Where are the Bears?

Developing the Polar Bear Tracker Map

Alysa McCall and Darcy Hastings

Polar Bear International

GPS wildlife tracking allows researchers to remotely observe movements, patterns, and habitat use in free-ranging animals. Such information can tell compelling stories when visualized effectively, but often only scientists have access to this material. Providing a free platform to view animal movement data could help the public better understand a species and be more willing to support related research. Almost a decade ago, Polar Bears International (PBI) built a dynamic online map of polar bear movements overlaid on sea ice to serve as an educational tool and help communicate the needs of the species. Building PBI’s Polar Bear Tracker had challenges, but it has now become a popular tool used around the world. Join us to talk about the development of the Polar Bear Tracker, its continually updating content, multiple uses, and future direction.

Alysa McCall Biography:

Alysa is the Director of Conservation Outreach and a Staff Scientist at Polar Bears International and is based out of Yellowknife, NWT. Alysa did her M.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Alberta where her thesis focused on tracking polar bears in western Hudson Bay using GPS satellite-linked collars. She assisted with the development of PBI’s Polar Bear Tracker and continues to oversee its corresponding educational materials, updates, and usage.

Darcy Hastings Biography:

Darcy is Director of Information Systems at Frontiers North Adventures, a leading Canadian tour operator specializing in authentic tours that share the wildlife, history and culture of Canada’s North. In 1985, Darcy used his family’s Tandy TRS-80 computer to painstakingly type-out his first program. Fourteen years later in 1999, he entered the web development industry as a programmer. Eventually he started his own development company where he led the team that designed and developed PBI’s Polar Bear Tracker.

 JFoord Headshot 2017_05


The Italian Winnipeg Job: Smart City Transportation Transformation

Jonathan Foord, Signals Asset Engineer, City of Winnipeg

In March of 2015, the City of Winnipeg approved the implementation of Winnipeg’s first Transportation Management Centre (TMC). Less than two years later the City of Winnipeg officially opened its TMC complete with 100% signalized intersection connectivity and a citywide LTE network of traffic monitoring cameras providing unprecedented real-time understanding of transportation activity in the city. At the foundation of the TMC operation is the integration of geospatial data with state-of-the-art technology. Learn how Winnipeg’s TMC has become a catalyst for cross-silo collaboration and the transformation of city services which is enabling better and faster informed decisions, communication, and ultimately improved service.

Drone DIY

Shawn Cruise

Thinking about getting a drone but not sure which is right for you?  Have you considered building one yourself?  Come and find out how to make your own multirotor.  Learn about frames, batteries, motors, electronic speed controllers, propellers, flight controllers, radio RX/TX, cameras, LEDs, GPS, FPV and other components.  Find out about the assembly, configuration and software required to make it fly.


Shawn Cruise achieved his B.Sc. (Computer Science) from the University of Manitoba in 2000.  Since graduation he has worked in both the private and public sectors of the local GIS market.  Shawn has performed in many roles including developer, designer, analyst, and architect on many successful GIS projects.  In his spare time, Shawn’s interest in building Raspberry Pi and Arduino devices has evolved into building multirotor and deltawing drones.



Geoprocessing climate data for ecological analysis

Susan Witherly, Ducks Unlimited.

Climate is an important influence on population trends for a number of species, including breeding waterfowl. In an effort to most accurately account for the effects of climate on waterfowl, we compare waterfowl population models using different seasonal classifications of local climate data.

Climate data generated by NRCan (1980 – 2010) were used to generate seasonal summaries for study sites in the Boreal Plains ecozone of northern Alberta. We used generalized linear mixed models fit to breeding waterfowl pair counts with seasonal climate data summarized by annual (one), two, four, and five seasonal classifications. The ground nesting guild top model used a five season classification and the top models for cavity and overwater nesting guilds used a four season classification.

Our results indicate that how local climate data is summarized should be considered if used in predictive models, but consideration to seasonal classification is less warranted if used in explanatory or qualitative models. This presentation will focus on geoprocessing climate data over a large spatial and temporal scales using python and customized database tools.



Susan Witherly joined IWWR in 2008 after beginning her career with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) in Regina in 2005. Susan works closely with researchers in determining their spatial data requirements and implementing geomatics technology to collect and analyze spatial data.

Susan works with relational databases, remote sensing data, and spatial statistics and provides spatial analysis and data for many of IWWR’s research projects. Currently Susan is enrolled as an MSc Candidate in the Bioscience, Technology and Public Policy program at the University of Winnipeg working with Dr. Joni Storie. Susan’s MSc thesis focuses on waterfowl habitat changes in the boreal forest. Susan holds membership to the Canadian Association of Geographers, the Society of Conservation in GIS, and Canadian Remote Sensing Society

 onanole-ff-logo-2 Sean

GIS Analysis for FireSmart planning

Sean Frey

Geomatics coordinator for Parks Canada and Acting Fire Chief for a rural municipality describes using free and open source tools (EOS Landviewer, QGIS) to assess wildfire risk for communities living in a wildland urban interface to aid in FireSmart program implementation


Sean Frey is the Geomatics Coordinator for Riding Mountain National Park and Acting Fire Chief for the Onanole Fire Department in SW Manitoba. Combining his love of maps, technology and outdoors has allowed him to work for over 20 years in the geomatics field in a broad array of applications. Sean ‘s pragmatic approach to meeting the user needs of the park and sharing his experience, not to mention the waived conference fee, compelled him to present today.




UW left stack COLOURhenry_cstorie-headshot

Deep Learning for Satellite Image Classification

Dr. Christopher Henry, Department of Applied Computer Science, the University of Winnipeg

Dr. Christopher Storie, Department of Geography, the University of Winnipeg

The importance of accurate and timely information describing the nature and extent of land resources and changes over time is increasing. Consequently the accurate production of these land use/land cover maps (LULC) is of critical importance in satisfying this need. The creation of thematic maps, such as those depicting LULC, using an image classification approach is one of the most common applications of remote sensing, however, the accuracy and consistency of the maps can vary over time and between different analysts. As such, the automation of LULC map production is of particular interest to a variety of different stakeholders.

Since 2012, deep learning neural networks (DLNN) have made great strides in the area of image segmentation, our work builds on these advances and adapts them to the application of per-pixel classification of satellite imagery. A neural network is a mathematical abstraction based (very) loosely on the behaviour of neurons in the brain. A neural network is composed of layers of neurons, and the term deep learning characterizes a neural network with many more layers and many more parameters than a traditional neural network. When properly trained, a neural network can classify data at remarkable speeds and more importantly the same way each time. This presentation details the development of a customized DLNN for the analysis of Landsat satellite imagery to produce provincial LULC maps for Manitoba. The talk will focus on three key areas: data preprocessing, the background and development of the DLNN, and data post processing. The benefits as well as the challenges to the development of this approach will be highlighted.

Biography for Dr. Christopher Henry

Dr. Henry has many years experience working in the area of reinforcement learning and working with theoretical frameworks for modelling human perception. Since 2013, Dr. Henry has been working on applications of deep learning neural networks including a collaboration with Sightline Innovation on data augmentation techniques for deep convolutional neural networks, a collaboration with GeoManitoba in using convolutional neural networks to classify satellite image pixels for the creation of a land use/land class maps of Manitoba, and a collaboration with Northstar Robotics on machine learning applications to precision agriculture. Additionally, Dr. Henry has recently started investigating the marriage of computational topology and proximity approaches with current machine learning methods based on insights gained through his work on applications of machine learning. Dr. Henry is also an expert in general purpose computing using GPUs, which is the computational engine driving recent advances in deep learning.

Biography for Dr. Christopher Storie

Dr Storie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His area of specialization is in the use of GIS and Remote Sensing technologies to study how our urban environments are organized, how they change over time, and what impacts those changes have on both people and the landscape. His research involves the use of advanced geographic information systems (ArcGIS) integrated with satellite imaging software (ENVI, Idrisi, PolSAR Pro) to analyze and fuse various geospatial datasets in order to derive land use/land use cover maps of urban environments. More recently he has begun to examine the role the deep neural networks can play in the area of land use land cover mapping. Working under a research contract from GeoManitoba and in collaboration with Dr. Henry, Dr. Storie has overseen the development of the satellite and classified products that will be used to train the deep learning network development by Dr. Henry and his team. The result of this collaboration is a neural network with the capability of producing a land use land cover from Landsat imagery.




Indigenous Rights and Mapping in an Era of Reconciliation

Steven DeRoy, Firelight Group

Indigenous peoples have been excluded from the map for far too long. More recently, Indigenous rights and title have been solidified in the courts resulting in a duty to consult where Indigenous peoples will be affected by land and water decisions. One of the tools for effective communication of Indigenous rights is a map. In this presentation, Steve will explore the history of Indigenous peoples, their rights, and how processes such as Environmental Assessment can be used to articulate those rights and interests. Methods such as Direct-to-Digital (D2D) mapping will be examined and critiqued. Steve will provide examples of Indigenous mapping efforts from his work across the country, and show how Indigenous peoples are re-defining the landscape from an Indigenous perspective.



Steve is Anishinabe/Saulteaux and a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation from Manitoba. He is a director and past president of the Firelight Group.

Since 1998, Steve has worked as a researcher and professional cartographer / geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, primarily with Aboriginal groups in North America. Steve provides project management, senior advisory and technical support for traditional knowledge and use studies; social, economic and health studies; land use planning; treaty land entitlement; and natural resource management. The other aspect of his work is to promote the transfer of knowledge by facilitating hands-on technical training and mentorship with First Nation practitioners. He has facilitated workshops in communities and presented at numerous conferences.

Steve is a board member of the West Coast Environmental Law Association, a moderator of the Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies, a moderator of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Agriculture (UAV4AG), a co-moderator of the Aboriginal Mapping Network, and a trainer of the Google Earth Outreach Trainers Network.

Free and Open GIS

Jeremy Sewell, Government of Manitoba

Making a static map isn’t always the best way to provide geographical context; sometimes the best way is to experience it.  This desire is often met with a lack in technology/experience/funds. This presentation will demonstrate how a novice user can acquire spatial data from a variety of sources (open data, served data and delivered data) in a variety of formats for no cost on nothing more than a Raspberry Pi CPU, using Open Software and a basic browser.


Jeremy works with the Community and Regional Planning Branch of the Province of Manitoba, Department Municipal Relations, on inter and intra-departmental initiatives as a Geospatial Analyst.  His work focuses primarily on parcel drafting and regional cartography, as well as land use analysis, geomatics capacity building initiatives and data gathering.


The Layman’s Guide to Photogrammetry and Virtual Reality

Christopher Hall, The Portal Winnipeg

The result of a “wouldn’t it be cool if” discussion, The Layman’s Guide to Photogrammetry and Virtual Reality follows Chris’ bumbling explorations in to drone flying, remote sensing, photogrammetry, post processing and exploration within the virtual world.


Chris Hall is the founder and owner of The Portal Winnipeg, Manitoba’s first Virtual Reality (VR) Arcade. The Portal offers customers access to cutting edge VR hardware, games and experiences within a laidback and comfortable environment.

Chris is keen to expand his VR offerings outside of the Entertainment Industry, and is looking to collaborate. He is currently working on a project which imports UAV sourced photogrammetry models into VR, envisioning applications in numerous fields, including engineering, architecture, urban planning, tourism among others.

Chris holds a BA 1st Class (Hons) in Human Geography from University of Gloucestershire (UK) and a MSc with commendation.



UAV-based Remote Sensing: RTK, PPK, Training and Regulations

Matthew Johnson, M3Aerial

The sensitivity and precision of photogrammetry-based remote sensing has come a long way.  Commercial UAV platforms now allow for the gathering of elevation and plant-health index maps from an aerial perspective up to 400ft above ground level.  How does aerial surveying compare with ground-based options?  What are the mediums available to gather this data?  Should you choose RTK or PPK-based solutions?  What kind of training is required to operate UAV systems?



Matthew Johnson is the President and CEO of M3 Aerial Productions Inc., a Winnipeg-based UAV solutions company.  M3 Aerial has been in the UAV industry since 2015, and offers services across Canada, and is a pioneer in the education for UAV operation in Canada.  The M3 Aerial UAV Ground School course is the first of it’s kind to be offered for University credit this fall at Brandon University.

Matthew is a Captain in the Canadian Forces Primary Reserves, and has been a teacher in Manitoba high schools since 2012.

 Cassandra Clouston

Evaluating GIS Methods to Enhance a Park Visit

Cassandra Clouston, Synchena Consulting

Using the Assiniboine Park English Garden as a case study to provide an overview of ArcGIS’s suite of software for the creation of a location aware, interactive and informational experience for visitors to a park. This presentation will look at visitor survey results to determine technology acceptance and also the use of relationship classes to create garden data that can be easily managed. Sample prototypes will be demonstrated.


Cassandra is a GIS Consultant with Synchena Consulting where she supports rural municipalities with their GIS needs. Her GIS experience has been in a variety of fields such as environmental, geotechnical, civil infrastructure and water resources. She is currently pursuing her Masters in GIS Applications from Vancouver Island University.



A Journey of a Lifetime: My Experience Aboard the Canada C3 Expedition

Dana Kowalsky, Manitoba Museum

Canada C3 is a signature project for Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. Canadians from all backgrounds are participating in a 150-day expedition of Canada’s three coasts aboard an icebreaker ship called the Polar Prince. Dana Kowalsky was selected as a participant for Leg 3 of the C3 journey. She describes her experience aboard the ship, and specifically how C3’s four themes of Reconciliation, Diversity and Inclusion, Youth Engagement, and Environment were approached throughout Leg 3 of the expedition.


Dana Kowalsky is a Science Educator at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated with her honours bachelor of science in 2015 with a focus on Ecology and Environmental Biology. Dana is also a singer songwriter, accompanying her performances on piano and harp. She was selected as a participant on Leg 3 of this summer’s Canada C3 journey, where she performed music and assisted research scientists aboard an icebreaker ship along the east coast of Canada.


Manitoba Museum’s Collection Storage Vaults

Behind the Scenes Tour

 Register now for your backstage pass!

The heart of the Manitoba Museum is its extensive collection of over 2.8 million artifacts and specimens that are developed, documented and cared for by a team of curators, collections staff and conservators.  The Museum’s collections is a rich and diverse representation of the province’s human and natural history – its irreplaceable content is used in exhibitions, education and research not only by museum staff, but a variety of individuals and groups in our local, national and international communities.

Like most museums, we are only able to display a small fraction of our collections at any one time. Items not on display are carefully held in our dedicated climate-controlled facilities and require daily care. The collections and conservation staff safeguard the artifacts and specimens with the goal of preserving them now and for future generations.

Our behind-the-scenes tours provide you with an unparalleled experience. See for yourself where we keep artifacts and specimens, rarely seen by the public, and experience the working environment of our talented curators, collections and conservation staff.

 Human History Tour  (Morning Break) Curators acquire research and preserve significant artifacts that tell the story of this province and its people.  Artifacts collected are selected and used to reflect both the individual history of the object and to help to tell any number of stories of our collective past.

 Natural History Tour (Afternoon Break)


Curators conduct research in various disciplines to expand our knowledge  on plants and organisms in the province – both fossil and recent. The  natural  history collections are developed and maintained as a specimen  library of Manitoba’s plants, animals, fossils, rocks, and minerals and are  used for reference and research as well as display.


Limited spaces – maximum 10 participants per tour

30 minutes $25.00 per person per tour.


Registration now open!


Manitoba Museum
190 Rupert Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0N2 Canada
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