Monday, February 20, 2012

Time and Space – Taylor Family Digital Library

Photo credit, D'Arcy Norman, Flickr
I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Peller, Head of the Spatial and Numeric Data Services unit at the Taylor Family Digital Library about the unique services provided by that unit to the university community.  Spatial and Numeric Data Services is the new name for MADGIC, a service that started about 12 years ago to provide assistance with academic data as well as the air photo and map collection. Services have developed organically over the years as researchers’ needs have changed and as they adapted to newer technologies such as GIS.  Spatial and Numeric Data Services is home to several collections including air photos, maps, microdata files, geospatial files and specialized GIS and statistical software

Unit staff have assisted health science researchers with their epidemiological research tracking disease occurrences and computer engineering students who had developed an algorithm to help the City of Calgary create more efficient garbage pickup routes or “beats”.  Other projects that they have assisted with include a civil engineer who wanted to create a predictive model for tornadoes for the Canadian prairies and a researcher trying to determine locations where oil spills are more prevalent in order to reduce them.  All of these researchers benefited from the data provided by Spatial and Numeric Data Services staff as well as their assistance in processing their data into meaningful results.

The majority of users of this service are from the University of Calgary community and  in particular the Masters of GIS students, the Geomatics Engineering students, and Environmental Design students and faculty. Community members and students from other institutions can access the air photo and map collection and Spatial and Numeric Services staff can provide assistance with academic data research using free and open source resources like GeoGratis and E-STAT.

Spatial and Numeric Data Services website:

by Laura Koltutsky

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