Leadership Summit Record of Discussion

Jun 11, 2015

After a warm welcome and a big thank-you for the years of hard work that so many people across Canada have contributed to conceptualizing and growing the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT), the Leadership Summit was officially opened!

The CGCRT has been an incredible community that has made an impressive contribution: our Strategy, Action and Implementation Plan, member contributions, hours and hours of volunteer work, all focused on achieving our collective vision: Team Canada.  Although the mandate of the CGCRT Steering Committee officially ended in January 2015, our next step is before us: the launch of GeoAlliance Canada. This proposed national umbrella organization was the top priority coming out of the June 2014 CGCRT workshop in Ottawa.

Leadership Summit attendees and Natural Resource Canada employees were invited to participate in choosing the top Canadian entries for the International Cartographic Association’s “Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition”.  The Canadian finalist’s pieces were to be selected at the end of the day and will be sent on to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the international competition. 


In order to encourage free and open dialogue, the Chatham House Rule was invoked for the day. The decisions made at the Leadership Summit are described below.



GeoAlliance Canada should be registered as a not-for-profit as soon as possible to maintain the momentum of CGCRT. The package is ready for formally incorporating a not-for-profit organization: draft bylaws, LinkedIn and Twitter to be initiated.

Achieving our Team Canada vision requires that we work together, to identify and address gaps, in order to move forward as a strong and unified community.  We have made great progress together. We need to continue expanding our reach, include other vertical sectors and partners both nationally and internationally, in order to build on our Strategy and make collective progress.

One of the questions we are continually faced with is how to grow and motivate the next generation?  How do we attract students and bring them to the table? We need economic activities and we need job opportunities. This will need to be the focus of GeoAlliance Canada. “Geo” may not save the world but without “Geo”, there are no answers.



The GeoAlliance.ca website is up and should be further developed. Content from CGCRT.ca will be migrated to this new platform shortly. The CGCRT.ca should be kept online and redirect users to GeoAlliance.ca. Finally, the GeoAlliannce.ca website should include the logos of members to see the entities so you can see our collective strength.



Top priorities for GeoAlliance Canada should be recruitment, raise its profile, and bringing in non-traditional partners (there is also a strong need to look outside traditional CGCRT community to find out what other partners want/need). The future GeoAlliance Canada Board of Directors will make the final decisions on specific projects going forward.

It was also recognized that GeoAlliance Canada is about to enter a transition period. There will be challenges in this first year and it will require trust. It was recognized that Year 1 membership with GA will be a faith-based decision to solidify membership growth in Year 2. Once GeoAlliance Canada is formally registered, memberships can start to be acquired. 

Key needs and actions for GeoAlliance Canada include:

  • Branding of GeoAlliance Canada
  • Keep a CGCRT pointer to GeoAlliance Canada website
  • Line up actions with the existing Strategy and Action Plan
  • Identity (i.e. multiple logos)
  • To support, not compete with existing local, regional and national partners.
  • Terms (value, celebrate « Founders/Core »)
  • Learning Resources (easy 24/7 access)
  • Governance of data - protected and available to those who want to use it
LESSON LEARNED FROM AUSTRALIA: In the early 2000s Australia had a number of national and state level organizations/associations, and the community decided that model was not sustainable. They decided to merge into one organization. Wasn’t easy, not everyone joined at the beginning, but they eventually did and later did because there were lots of benefits - strength in numbers! In time, it may become more attractive for smaller companies/organization to become members.



Prime functions to be addressed in the near term include forum coordinators, secretariat support, a leader/president as well as communications.

An Interim Board needs to be established. The interim board structure should try to mimic the board structure outlined in leadership proposal, but not be bound by it. The term length should be 6-12 months to ensure future board turnover (i.e. mix of 6 month/one year terms). Finally, Board membership requires membership to GeoAlliance Canada.

NOTE:  Organizations present at the Leadership Summit meet approx. 6-12/times a year. Therefore requesting a definitive decision re: board membership in the next two months may not be possible for all (i.e.: government seats may take longer to fill, etc.). Also, to address funding challenges related to organizations unable to pay memberships, the future Board of GeoAlliance Canada may be able to come up with creative solutions (i.e. sponsorship, scholarship etc.)



All Leadership Summit attendees participated in a 60-minute interactive session that focused on the four main questions listed below. The responses of the break out groups are outlined below.


  • Which group (K-12, post-secondary, decision-makers, and general population) should be targeted first?
  • How can we best reach this group?
  • What is the best way to capitalize on the outreach opportunities presented by the International Map Year (IMY) and the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada?
  • Working with your colleagues at your table, determine how you would allocate $100,000 on Year 1 on outreach/branding/profile-building activities.


Which group (K-12, post-secondary, decision-makers, and general population) should be targeted first?


How can we best reach this group?


What is the best way to capitalize on the outreach opportunities presented by the International Map Year (IMY) and the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada?


Working with your colleagues at your table, determine how you would allocate $100,000 on Year 1 on outreach, branding, and profile-building activities.


A concerted, comprehensive plan or initiative to target all 4 groups but in the following order.  Main actions: listen, engage, show and do/practice.

  1. General population
  2. Decision-makers
  3. Post-secondary
  4. K-12


- Concerted, comprehensive engagement. 

- Listen (surveys), engage, show and do

- 150th anniversary “MApp”

- Slider/time

- Story (history 150 years ago present)


A $100K GEO-thon.  To include:

-         a geo-literacy program

-         a CODE/App competition

-         Media campaign

-         NRCan/crowd-sourcing (tiered, paid participation for added value vs free membership to broaden audience)




Target junior high school students – they are our future.


Targeted communications to each group.

“THE” annual event (stories, panels, media releases, social, etc.)


A standard multi-media education/curriculum package for K-12



Target repurposed employees in other vertical sectors (i.e. electric power engineers assigned to the GIS department)


Through professional organizations, trade associations, trade conferences


- Transit Advertising Campaign – showing careers using GIS/Map/’location technologies’ and professions,

- Target: K-12 and post-secondary.


Using good evidence of GEO value, develop a full communications strategy and implementation plan.


Target faculties of Education


Create a standard multi-media presentation delivered by passionate GeoAlliance members

Corporate Champion(s)


Big “THE” kickoff event. To include:

-          outreach (facilitated sessions)

-          emphasis of decision-makers’ experiences (success stories and sharing)

-          coordinated sub-events (e.g. a hack-a-thon with Open Data)



Target decision makers, at any level with $.


“THE” annual event (to celebrate our successes

 Map of economic impact


Identify high potential/low current utilization sectors and target selected trade and professional associations; have face-to-face contact, business cases and benefits



Target groups in this order: decision-makers,  K-12, then the general public


Through outreach, media events, action plan, partnerships, consensus by analysis


Something relevant (geomatics versus geospatial), mashups/ hack-a-thons, and recruiting video for

Youtube and mobile phones.


Planning $5K, hack-a-thon $15K, video script $15K, video production $20K, video distribution $10K, video promotion $15K, website $20K



Target K-12 and decision-makers


Through gamefication, curriculum, career fairs


Our History” spot, Heritage Minutes (e.g. Canada – birthplace of GEO, Roger Tomlinson,

Canada Lands Inventory)


Geomatics apps contest



Target the general population, people understand GEO.


Through a PR campaign, Chris Hatfield, the young generation



#NO GEO campaign





A series of questions were posed, discussed and answered in plenary. A summary of the collective contributions is provided below.

1. What are the existing resources GeoAlliance Canada can draw from? What can your organization bring to the table?

  • Leverage corporate roles (i.e. act as interim administrator of funds)
  • Many organizations, big and small, represent networks of potential contributors and interested participants (for the forums?) to work on complementary projects; and,
  • Membership dollars (note: not all Summit attendees can afford proposed membership costs).

2. What are GeoAlliance Canada’s three major challenges? How can they be addressed?

  • A challenge for GeoAlliance Canada will be inclusion:
    • We should be proud that the geomatics community built this, and open it up to the broader “GEO” community;
    • Reach in (refer to Value Study when it is published); Reach out (other domains/fields);
    • There is a real opportunity to recruit other industries involved (i.e. agriculture) and users to encourage them to participate in GeoAlliance Canada, a real opportunity for growth of Canada’s geospatial community;
    • Crafting an identity that can engage the whole community (i.e. get the whole community behind), have good reasons to draw on, a plan, a study, info we can build from;  timing is right but it’s a BIG challenge; and,
    • Our contribution is about enabling economic benefits, environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation and beyond. What we have is something that can start to help answer the questions. We need all of us to tell our story and help others tell theirs!
    • Funding is a big challenge:
      • NSERC science promotion (3yr, $100k)?
      • Other sources are being actively considered.
    • Raising the profile and identity of Canada’s “GEO” community are key priority challenges:
      • Want to make sure GeoAlliance Canada is not defined by our specific specializations/disciplines, as that would put at risk the inclusivity aspect (ie. the “GEO” that binds us, which is important)
      • Communications is key, and,
      • Survey needs.
    • It’s critical to be able to answer “What’s in it for me over the next year in order to meet expectations?” as the worst case would be under performing and having to rally for memberships in Year 2.
    • Need to ensure GeoAlliance Canada does not compete with existing organizations and initiatives; need to be complementary and facilitate growth of all groups; trust will be important, we are here because we want to make it better for the community. 
    • Geomatics at its core, has a high learning curve, hard for beginners to become experts (takes time); the use of geospatial data by Canadians is becoming increasingly ubiquitous 

3. Are the Pan-Canadian Geomatics Strategy and associated Action and Implementation Plan still the most important documents to guide the activities of GeoAlliance Canada? If so, what are the three highest priority initiatives?

  • The Pan-Canadian Geomatics Strategy and associated Action and Implementation Plan are a good start, but may need to be prioritized and updated given limited resources.
  • Good, broad partnerships, keeping these partnerships strong and engaged are going to be important to get things done together.
    • Some partners have very broad reach that can be leveraged.
    • All partners, particularly those at the Summit (and those represented on the Board) can promote GeoAlliance Canada, show who is supporting it and work together to establish and evolve its presence across Canada.
    • Focus on work with existing associations (e.g.:  a scholarship - delivered by local organization with support from GeoAlliance Canada).
    • Highlight our collective contribution to economy, environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation. What we have is something that can start to help answer the questions. We need all of us to tell our story and help others tell theirs!
    • Identity and branding at the national level, tailor to local level, economies of scale if we come together.
    • GeoAlliance is not a project, it’s a community. A network of networks that can promote value and community of a project. It will need to clarify the actual deliverables (events? AGM? Is there an event we want to be known for?) Need to know “Person of the Year” equivalent for GeoAlliance Canada.
    • Organizations may fit into multiple forums (i.e.: Royal Canadian Geographical Society: non-profit and education) may participate in multiple forums but only able to hold a maximum of one board seat (therefore would need to choose representation category).
    • Small organizations can provide major leverage opportunities to new networks (Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives - ACMLA - their membership is disseminating data, could act as a bridge to GeoAlliance Canada members).
    • As a community, we need to better articulate our strengths (i.e.: our history is strong but many don’t know that a Canadian invented GIS). We have critical assets, momentum, bench strength … we need to not let it depreciate!
      •  “Geo” holds that defining thread that unites our broad community: The “Where?”
    • “Heritage Moments” on TV have had a profound impact on Canadians. Should we consider “Geo Moments”?
    • In the future, is it possible that GeoAlliance Canada could be the national organization with others becoming subdivisions?
      • Answer: want to provide forums for existing groups to become a part of instead of compete with them. Builds trust as the intention is to help each other.

Add Pingback

Please add a comment

You must be logged in to leave a reply. Login »