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October 3rd, 2012
Web Map Provides Clear Picture of Oil Sands Industry Performance in Alberta

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Alberta’s oil sands contain the third-largest crude oil reserve in the world, next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Managing this valuable resource requires responsible development. To support this, the ministry of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) created the Oil Sands Information Portal ( The portal uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to make data about oil sands industry performance easily understood and accessible to the public. Esri Canada today presented the Ministry with an Award of Excellence for this outstanding use of GIS to engage citizens in the development of oil sands within the province.

“We’re honoured to be recognized for the hard work and combined efforts of department staff to make the environmental performance of Alberta’s oil sands open and transparent,” said Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “Our goal is to drive excellence and innovation through good science and informed debate. Having a tool that brings the latest data and research information to our fingertips will help to achieve this.”

“Open and easy access to information enables people to ask informed questions and engage in rational discussion about the oil sands industry performance,” said Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada. “Alberta’s portal promotes an informed assessment of petroleum industry practices and allows the province to take a balanced, science-based approach to development.”

The portal uses Esri’s ArcGIS technology to bring data from numerous sources together in one easy-to-use platform. It consists of a Web map and data library with the most recent information available. The interactive map allows users to quickly select and view information such as details and locations of oil sands operations, regional monitoring stations, surface mining disturbance and reclamation. The searchable data library provides reports, images, links and tables that help users understand environmental trends. Through OSIP, researchers from government, industry and academia can access information on air, water, land and wildlife in downloadable spreadsheets or maps. They can also view pie graphs of greenhouse gas emissions and compare them by industry within the province, across Canada or globally.

“Using GIS was a good approach as our users were becoming more comfortable seeing information presented as maps,” said Heather Carmichael, Manager, Clean Energy, ESRD. “Without this technology, our organization would miss out on a powerful analytic tool. As well, the ministry collects oil sands-related information directly in geospatial format, making it possible to view and analyze the same data internally that’s presented to the public through OSIP.”

The Web map was created using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, which enables easy, self-serve access to secure geographic information. Users can navigate the portal using common Web browsers and through smartphones (Android, WinPhone) and tablets (iPad). Since its launch, public feedback on the portal has been overwhelmingly positive and more than 1,100 unique users visit OSIP every month. The Ministry continually updates data as it becomes available and makes improvements to the user experience. The portal will also be a key reporting tool for Alberta’s new enhanced monitoring system for air, land, water and biodiversity.

About Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development amalgamates the ministries of Environment & Water, and Sustainable Resource Development. As proud stewards of air, land, water and biodiversity, the ministry leads the achievement of desired environmental outcomes and sustainable development of natural resources for Albertans. For more information, visit  

About Esri Canada
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography.  The company distributes the world’s leading GIS software from Esri, Telvent, Cityworks – Azteca Systems, Inc. and other technology partners.  Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the Top 250 Canadian IT Companies and Top 25 IT Professional Services Providers in Canada by the Branham Group, as well as one of Computer Dealer News’ Top 100 IT Solution Providers in Canada.  Information about Esri Canada can be found at

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