Elaine Dawson Given The Roger F. Tomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award

Visionary civil servant led the way on how provinces share, protect and leverage geospatial data

VICTORIA, Esri Canada User Conference – April 17, 2018 – Elaine Dawson, a  public servant and a trailblazer in her promotion of enterprise data sharing and spatial data infrastructure development, was honoured today with the Roger F. Tomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award at the Esri Canada User Conference in Victoria.


The award was created as a tribute to Dr. Roger F. Tomlinson O.C., a visionary geographer who conceived and developed the first geographic information system (GIS) and became known as the ‘father of GIS’. This accolade recognizes individuals for their outstanding achievement and contribution to the GIS community during their career.


“Like Roger Tomlinson, Elaine Dawson is a trailblazer. The data access services and policies she crafted on how governments should safely handle data have become the standard-bearer for provincial governments across the country,” said Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada. “She had the vision to push for provincial dataset standards supported by strong data governance and standard approaches to spatial data interchange.”


“Elaine has also worked tirelessly to advance data sharing between many levels of government and with the public and remains a strong advocate for incorporating location in decision-making.” Mr. Miller went on to applaud Ms. Dawson’s generosity in volunteering across the country to be on innumerable committees looking to learn from her work in appropriately storing and sharing spatial data and advancing open data.   


"I'm lucky to have been part of a long-range vision, which has shown that access to authoritative integrated geographic data saves costs and helps government make informed decisions. Our development work has also supported private sector innovation and commercialization, which have contributed to BC's overall economic development," said Ms. Dawson.


Ms. Dawson led the development of BC’s Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) supporting data discovery, distribution, connection and visualization as well as location services. The BC Geographic Warehouse, at the centre of the Provincial SDI, has been emulated by other provinces. She has been a key force in the success of BC’s Open Data Initiative.


She recognized the importance of sharing data among the provincial government, local governments and the utilities, ultimately saving BC taxpayers money. This contributed to the creation of the Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICI Society), of which she is now president. ICI Society is a non-profit partnership between local and provincial governments and major utility companies to share geospatial information.


Ms. Dawson has a BSc from the University of Victoria, an IT Leadership Development Certificate from Ryerson University and an extensive public service career as a data management professional. She chairs the BC Data Council and actively works with the Federal Government on the advancement of Open Data, Canadian geospatial platform services and more broadly, geomatics in Canada.


About the Roger F. Tomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award

The Roger F. Tomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted in 2014 and is awarded periodically by Esri Canada to an individual for outstanding contributions to the GIS community over the course of their career.  The award is named after GIS pioneer Dr. Roger F. Tomlinson O.C. (1939 – 2014), who conceived and developed the first geographic information system (GIS) for the Canadian federal government in the 1960s.  He initiated, planned and directed the development of the Canada Geographic Information System to create the Canada Land Inventory, a geographic database still used today by municipalities for land planning. His innovation has enabled the development of modern mapping technology and techniques, and established a multibillion-dollar industry employing thousands of people worldwide.


About Esri Canada  
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower people in business, government and education to make informed and timely decisions by leveraging the power of mapping and spatial analytics. These solutions enable organizations to better manage their resources, plan their future and collaborate within and beyond their organization. Esri Canada’s products and services help advance successful digital transformation. The company serves 12,000 organizations from 16 offices across Canada and is based in Toronto. In 2015, Esri Canada became a Gold Standard winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and in 2016 was named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures. More information can be found at esri.ca. Follow Esri Canada on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.



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