The Collaborative-geomatics Informatics Tool

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Worldwide, the use of mapping technologies in Aboriginal communities continues to grow as these communities need to collect, collate, store, analyze and present data in response to resource development and to plan proactively. The relatively inexpensive, web-based, collaborative-geomatics informatics tool incorporates high-resolution satellite imagery and is unique as the tool utilizes the Web Informatics Development Environment (WIDE) toolkit developed at the University of Waterloo. The toolkit utilizes a forms-based approach to system construction; thus, allowing for relatively rapid development and modification of the system after community input. The WIDE toolkit also supports collaboration within as well as between communities using its social networking feature. It allows communities to take control of the collection, collation, processing, and management of their own information. As with all mapping technologies, the target users have been adults; however, for continuity purposes, there is a need to engage the Aboriginal youth. In a pilot study, we examined if place-based education could be used to engage Aboriginal youth living in Fort Albany First Nation, sub-arctic Canada, with respect to the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool. Introduction to and familiarization with the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool was facilitated through two environmental outreach camps. Qualitative methods were utilized to gauge if place-based education successfully engaged First Nation youth with respect to use of the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool. Results from a themed analysis revealed that place-based education successfully engaged the youth. Student’s responses were quite positive and most showed a great level of interest for learning about their environment and utilizing the collaborative-geomatics informatics tool, and other technology. Continuation of the outreach initiative to further engage the youth is recommended.