City Planning, ArcGIS, and beyond!
My name is Leah Fulton, and I’m a third-year undergraduate planning student studying Community Design at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, NS. I am hoping to get into the honours program for my fourth year to graduate with a Bachelor of Community Design, Honours in Urban Studies with a Minor in Geography and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
This semester I was given the opportunity to work at Dalhousie University’s GIS Centre, where I was introduced to helping students, politicians, and the GIS Centre with a variety of projects. This allowed me to think outside of the box when it came to answering GIS-related questions. Being exposed to an environment assisting other students strengthened and broadened my knowledge of GI-Systems and Science. Recently, ArcGIS Pro has been my software of choice when it comes to working on projects, and I hope to learn more about its unique features to share with others. I am grateful to be selected as an Esri Associate and to represent Dalhousie University’s Esri Centre of Excellence.
Having read a lot of these blog posts, I’ve noticed there haven’t been many discussions concerning how city planners use ArcGIS. ArcGIS is a useful tool in spatially representing real-world problems, which can aid in finding solutions and inform decision making in the planning process. Throughout my education here at Dalhousie, I’ve been exposed to ArcGIS in a variety of my classes. In February 2018, after only a few months of using ArcGIS, I decided to take on the ECCE App Challenge to force myself into strengthening my skills with the ArcGIS Online environment. I have a passion for connecting human geography to spatial mapping and using it as a tool to better understand how our cities form and what we need to do to make them better. At the time of the ECCE App Challenge, Halifax Regional Municipality put in a bid for the $50,000,000 Smart Cities Initiative, in hopes to tackle the issue of food insecurity. In my opinion, as a student studying city planning, accessible healthy food should be one of the fundamental priorities when attempting to achieve and develop healthy communities. My team and I decided to create an app to connect people to their food resources and provide a better understanding of the food deserts located within the HRM. Although we did not win the app challenge, our team received an opportunity with Halifax Regional Municipality GIS technicians. With some modifications, HRM plans to launch our app in partnership with the Halifax Food Policy Alliance which includes representatives from Public Health, Ecology Action Centre, Feed Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to help reduce the issue of food insecurity within the Halifax Regional Municipality.
With that being said, I wanted to take the next step to see what other cities are doing along with the urban innovations that are making cities more resilient. After some thorough research, I sent off an application to do a university exchange through Dalhousie to Perth, Western Australia. Once I received a nomination, the countdown began. Now with one month away till my arrival in Perth, I believe that not only will the opportunity to study abroad in Perth help me develop as a person, but it will also challenge me to think creatively when it comes to urban planning, especially given the drastic difference between Halifax and Perth. Being exposed to an environment like Perth, Australia would provide me with a different perspective and allow me to experience the effects of a fast-growing city. I plan on refining my ArcGIS Pro skills while abroad and collect information from Perth that can be used to determine a topic for my thesis in honours of the Community Design program at Dalhousie University.
Thank you for reading! I am excited to be representing Esri Canada and Dalhousie University as an Esri Associate and also looking forward to sharing what I learn abroad!