What Is GeoIgnite?

GeoIgnite 2021 is back April 21-23rd, and Canada’s National Geospatial Conference is bigger and better than ever.

Breaking new ground, the conference is free and the first three days are presented bilingually in French and English for the first time.

With the theme “Leadership and Geospatial Intelligence,” the conference continues to be the platform for conversations and discussion on the future of Canada’s location and technology sector. However, given the huge interest it has been able to generate within the community, the conference is spread over several days now. It starts with a Career Fair and Diversity Leadership Panel on April 14, followed by the three-day main conference starting April 21 that will have four major keynotes, three panels, and one fireside chat. There is one full week of workshops from April 26-30th that will focus on trainings, meetings, summits, and forums.

The event is free for all Canadian geo enthusiasts. Grab your tickets now!

In a nutshell

  • The conference is online and free
  • Canadian Perspectives: The Power of Geospatial Literacy for Space, Earth Observation and Education Summit
  • Geospatial Diversity Leadership Panel
  • GeoIgnite Career Fair April 14th
  • Canadian Underground Infrastructure Mapping Forum
  • Advancing Space Based Observation in Canada: The Federal Government of Canada Geospatial Directors General Panel
  • Bilingual with live translation

Top Speakers

  • Dr Minda Suchan, Vice President, Geointelligence, MDA
  • Luc Brule, Vice -President, Canadian Space Agency
  • Barbara Ryan, Executive Director, The World Geospatial Industry Council
  • Walter Scott, Founder of Digital Globe and CTO, Maxar
  • Dr Nadine Alameh, CEO, Open Geospatial Consortium
  • Will Cadell, President, SparkGeo
  • Dr. Steve Liang, Founder, SensorUp

GeoIgnite – bringing the community together

“In Canada we have many great Regional Conferences, however the geomatics sector doesn’t really have a venue that brings people from coast to coast together. GeoIgnite has demonstrated that it can bring people together from across Canada,” says Ted MacKinnon, President, Canadian Cartographic Association.

The main conference: April 21 to April 23

Spread over three days, the main conference brings an exciting speaker lineup—from keynotes to panel discussions. Some important ones to highlights are:


It kicks off with a keynote from Dr. Minda Suchan, MDA’s Vice President of Geointelligence, on importance of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Canada is the world leader in wide area space-based radar Earth observation through the highly successful RADARSAT program, supporting numerous operational and scientific uses for SAR data. MDA, in conjunction with the Canadian government, has created an internationally recognized brand and reputation for excellence in near-real time, broad area SAR data for mission critical applications. MDA intends to build upon this success by investing in our own commercial synthetic aperture radar satellite constellation that will reinforce Canada’s reputation and relevance in this area on the world stage.

If you are a spacetech enthusiast, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the address by CSA Vice-President Luc Brulé on Day 2 as he presents the agency’s oversight for program sectors, including in Space Utilization, Space Exploration, and Space Science and Technology.

And all space buffs, stay tuned for the next one on Why it Takes a Legion on Day 2 again. Here Maxar’s Executive Vice President & CTO Dr. Walter Scott will share some key insights on the next generation of Earth Intelligence arriving in 2021 with the launch of WorldView Legion, and what impact that will have for the Canadian geospatial market in the months and years ahead.

He will compare the satellite imaging constellations of Maxar and other commercial companies to show how they stack up in three key metrics: product-market fit, adaptability, and capital efficiency.

A long-time advocate of open geo data, Barbara Ryan, Executive Director of the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), will present on Day 3 on the need for greater collaboration between and among public, private, and not-for-profit organizations at a time when geospatial data has become foundational to all decision making in a post-pandemic world.


If you are a geospatial industry insider and interested in learning about the direction Canada’s Federal government geospatial leadership is taking, you must sign up for this unique Director General panel on Day 1. Senior federal government executives such as Éric Loubier of Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Eric Laliberté of the Canadian Space Agency, and David Harper of the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will discuss: Advancing Space Based Observation in Canada.

Advancing Space Based Observation in Canada

Canada’s Provincial & Territorial Geospatial Leadership Panel will take up issues surrounding the main priorities and challenges across jurisdictions, types of geospatial tools used to monitor and respond to key challenges like emergency response, data sources to address the priorities, gaps and opportunities, data infrastructure needs, and jurisdictions leveraging collaborations to achieve their objectives. Moderated by OGC’s Trevor Taylor, the panel will see participation from senior executives from Canadian geomatics organizations such as Melanie Desjardins, Chair, Canadian Council on Geomatics and Director, NWT Centre for Geomatics; James Britton, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; and Colin Macdonald, Director, Geographic Information Services, Internal Services, Province of Nova Scotia.

Spatial Finance, New Markets for Earth Observation will take up the hot topic of spatial finance. Spatial finance offers socio-economic and environmental insights that have the potential to enhance data transparency in the financial system. With an unprecedented level of investment and innovation in the space sector in the last decade, the sector will require new regulations and international norms and will create novel opportunities for industry and innovation. Moderated by Will Cadell, CEO of Sparkgeo, the panel has a range of speakers including June McAlarey, President & CEO of PCI Geomatics; Bill Greer, Product Manager at Maxar; Florian Thaler, CEO and Co-Founder of Olix; and Joe Morrison, Head of Product Success and Impact at UmbraLab.


Don’t miss out on this exciting Fireside Chat on Day 2 with Steve Liang, Founder and CTO of SensorUp and Dr Nadine Alameh, OGC’s Chief Executive, as they discuss the future of geospatial data in a IoT-driven world, applications ranging from homeland security, building energy management to environmental monitoring, and the need for open and interoperable standards and products.

Geospatial data empowers research bodies, government agencies, and the private sector to visualize and analyze complex problems in new and innovative ways. But location data is only valuable if it is accurate—something many GIS and data analysts know all too well. Armed with accurate, precisely geocoded POI data that includes key attribution related to brands and business types, analysts can gain a deeper understanding of a community’s commercial landscape for a variety of geospatial use cases. Join GIS and POI data experts Juliana McMillan-Wilhoit, Principal at Tabulae Spatial; and Briana Brown, Content Manager at SafeGraph as they explain Analyzing Canadian Communities with POI Data.

Technology overview

And then there are insightful talks and presentations on the technology and its applications. For instance, Optimizing and Accelerating the Globe in 3D, which will feature Ryan Hamilton, Maxar’s Senior Manager, 3D Products, on how the company is building the highest resolution and most accurate 3D map of the planet.

Want to know more about Making Corporate Decisions using Geospatial Data and the Power of Location Intelligence? You can explore how Agri-food Canada created a strategic road map to systematically diagnose strengths and weaknesses to drive the use of location intelligence in everyday program and policy decisions of a federal department in this talk by James Ashton of Agri-food Canada.

Have you ever wondered what is the Geospatial Product Trap? Attend this talk by Will Cadell, CEO of Sparkgeo, as he explains how the common assumption that geospatial is somehow an independent industry is a bait for the geospatial trap and outlines some pathways to escape.

Building Software Solutions for Climate Change is a talk from Nick Kellet, CEO of Deploy Solutions, in which he will explain how to close the communication gap between citizens and trusted authorities while preparing for or responding to natural disasters.

Learn Why is an AI company designing Canada’s hydro database from Jake McGregor, COO, Minerva Intelligence. McGregor will explain more about what ‘knowledge engineering’ is and why it makes Minerva uniquely qualified to design complex geospatial schemas for national-scale datasets.

Curious about Locating the Blockchain? Bilyana Anicic CEO, Aurora Consulting, will talk about the need for bringing together the power of location intelligence and blockchain technology for an increased speed and accuracy of transactions and improved decision-making. We will be exploring some of the use cases including supply chains, healthcare, insurance, transportation, data generation, voting, contract management, and more.

In this talk on Advances in Earth Observation & Analytics Technologies + Deployment in Forest & Climate Solutions, we will hear from Tara O’Shea, Planet’s Director of Forest Programs, on how these Earth observation and analytic technologies are driving new sustainability solutions, particularly as it relates to forests and climate globally.

For nearly 50 years, geomatics representatives from Canadian provinces and territories have collaborated together and with the federal government on geomatics initiatives. In this presentation, Canadian Council on Geomatics – Fostering collaboration across jurisdictions, Council Chair Melanie Desjardins will explore why such a council came to be and why its work matters to the Canadian geomatics sector and citizens alike.

The Canadian Geodetic Survey (CGS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is responsible for defining, maintaining, and providing access to the Canadian Spatial Reference System (CSRS). The CSRS provides a consistent reference for surveying, mapping, and other applications which require accurate positioning. In this presentation, Supporting Accurate Geospatial Positioning in Canada, Brian Donahue, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Team Leader, Canadian Geodetic Survey, will describe the CGS products, tools and services which are currently available and provide access to the Canadian Spatial Reference System (CSRS).

Canadian Underground Infrastructure Mapping Forum: April 29-30

Canada’s Underground Infrastructure Mapping Forum, or CUF as it is popularly coming to be known as, will demonstrate why knowing the location of underground energy infrastructure is critical for national security, for disaster planning and management, for public safety, and for economic efficiency.

Statistics show that in Canada, the annual number of incidents of underground damage during construction is flat or slowly increasing. In the last few years, public and private organizations around the world are beginning to implement policies, procedures, and technologies to reduce underground utility damage during excavation. Recent ground-breaking innovations in detection and mapping are now making it possible to detect, capture, and share survey-grade location information about underground infrastructure among construction stakeholders.

Known 3D and underground expert Geoff Zeiss brings together a community of fellow professionals on innovations in underground detection and mobile and cloud solutions for reality capture and data sharing, and updates on policies and regulations that are dramatically changing how location information about underground infrastructure is captured and shared.

Special Workshop Week: April 26-30

That’s right, you have a whole week of workshops at GeoIgnite. And the highlight of the workshop week is a singular event: Canadian Perspectives: The Power of Geospatial Literacy for Space, Earth Observation, and Education.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, in conjunction with Canadian Geographic Education, is organizing the event to showcase and raise awareness of what is currently taking place on a number of different levels by sharing the work of remarkable individuals who are instructing and inspiring others to further the common goals. The other highlights from the workshop week include:

  • GIS Project Management Practices
  • Open geo-spatial data and tools: Linking urban and rural analysis with localized SDGs – Statistics Canada Workshop
  • MAXAR Workshop: Delivering geospatial intelligence to entire organizations with SecureWatch
  • GoGeomatics Canada Workshop: Create Interactive Maps with Leaflet (JavaScript library)
  • BeSpatial Workshop: “Let’s Talk Automation”
  • ISO/TC 211 – Q&A and membership opportunities in the Canadian national Mirror Committee
  • Introduction to SAR/EO Products Workshop, Hosted by MDA
  • Re-Imaging Remote Sensing with ERDAS IMAGINE – workshops for AI, Spatial Modeling, Python Integration
  • Using software to prepare for Climate Change impacts and natural disaster
  • Drone-derived data and geomatics quality and accuracy standards Summit
  • From Imagery Purchasing to Final Product Workshop
  • Canadian Cartographers Workshop
  • Avenza Maps: A mobile solution for offline mapping, data collection and navigation in the field

The Career Fair: April 14

The one-day career fair is combination of presentations, panels and hiring sessions. It is completely free for all participants.

The event begins with a keynote by MDA’s Daniel Schulten (Director, LaunchPad) on the Past, Present and Future of Talent Needs in the Geointelligence Domain. The discussion will look at MDA’s past 20 years of success in Geointelligence and Earth Observation domain, in addition specifically addressing Canada’s unique requirements, the impact it will have on the domestic industry and how it might shape future career trajectories within this domain.

The event also features Going Solo: How to go from Employee to Contractor and run your own Business, in which GeoIgnite’s Jonathan Murphy, serial entrepreneur and career coach, explains what it means to go from employee to an independent contractor providing goods, labor, or services in Canada.

There are other exclusive hiring sessions from Sparkgeo, Maxar, and MDA.

The Career Fair event concludes with the GeoIgnite Diversity Leadership Panel: Taking Action for the Next Generation. This panel is a forum for professionals of all ages and stages in their careers to gain valuable insights into how to advance their careers. And this diversity encompasses kinds of data, individuals, technologies, or experiences. This year the panel is moving the conversation forward by focusing on ideas to develop and encourage the next generation of tech leaders within our sector.

Moderated by Tanya Tejassvi, Manager – Accessibility Initiatives at SPARC BC and GoGeomatics, the panel will feature Bilyana Anicic, President of Aurora Consulting; Keith Masback Principal of Plum Run LLC; David Gachuche, CEO of RiverCross Technologies; David Mann, MDA’s Director of Talent Acquisition; and Parshati Patel, PhD astrophysicist, science communicator and STEM education researcher. The panel provides a platform for leaders, allies, and the next generation of leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities surrounding diversity in leadership and technology, be inspired by influential and successful role models, explore new paths to leadership, and network with like-minded professionals.

GeoIgnite’s idea of diversity isn’t just about individuals but also about technologies and approaches and being open to different ways of doing things.

As Will Cadell says, there is a lot of good talent in Canadian geospatial sector. “And while we have done some incredible things as an industry, we do a terrible job of telling people about the advancements. “
It is important to tell Canada’s Geomatics stories. It’s important to have a national forum like GeoIgnite, which brings the Canadian geospatial community together, and provide a level of thought leadership to highlight the successes of the past. It provides a platform to ask the questions, voice our challenges, and make new partnerships.

So what are you waiting for? Ignite the fire in you.