The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association was founded in the United States in 1963 as a non-profit organization focusing on information technology education and issues. Today there are over 7,000 members internationally, including 26 regional chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada and sister organizations in Asia, Australia, and Europe.
URISA – Ontario was established in 1987 with less than 50 members and incorporated in Ontario on March 31, 1992. In the beginning, the Association focused on education, which is now being complemented by new initiatives. Today, there are more than 1,100 members from diverse backgrounds in both the public, private and educational sectors and is recognized by other organizations as Ontario's GIS organization.
Our Association in Review
by Sandra Crutcher, URISA - Ontario Executive Director
In 1988, organizers accepted the challenge to give shape and substance to the idea of an Ontario association of URISA. Concepts, terms such as interdisciplinary, integration, GIS, public/private partnerships, reengineering were leading edge ideas. Networking once referred to breakfast meetings and the exchange of business cards. (It still does!) Communications today,URISA - Ontario has played a significant role by providing timely and informative educational sessions on such topics as data sources/sharing, accuracy, data modeling, and FOI to name a few.
URISA-Ontario has partnered with the Tri-Committee, MISA, and AM/FM to host 3 very successful municipal conferences (1991-93.), developed workshops such as the Disaster Strikes and the Basics of GIS.
Our members share experiences through annual municipal updates, discuss the impact of technology in the workplace, explored the "RE's" of re-inventing government, re-engineering the corporation, and revisiting GIS as headlined in our quarterly newsletters.
In 1994, an internet task force was established to set direction in this important area. Since that time, URISA-Ontario has incorporated a fully integrated content management website for its membership database management, event scheduling and tracking. In the member's area, a knowledgebase consisting of the current edition and past newsletters in .pdf format are available for members to read online and/or print off as required.
Quarterly program events and the annual GIS focused Be Spatial EXPO has provided forum for member vendors and users to visually explore applications and new technology.
URISA - Ontario has been an active participant in a number of initiatives including the Municipal Reference Model project, Land Information Ontario (LIO) and ONLIS, submitted a position paper to the Sewell commission on planning reform and in 1997, it was instrumental in attracting and subsequently hosting the URISA International conference held in Toronto.
What Is The Role For URISA - Ontario Today?
Among other things, the interdisciplinary focus of the organization provides a valuable forum for those public and private sector professionals involved in the intensely important application of information technology and integration of land-related data. IT, GIS, planning, conservation, surveying, engineering, teaching, vendor and consulting fields are well represented in our over 500 members. A strong base to serve our members well into the future.
Presented to members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership to URISA, creativity, innovation, and dedicated support of URISA programs. The recipient should be a member of URISA for enough years to show a pattern of leadership. Typically the recipient will have been responsible for new programs or activities, or significantly enhanced an existing activity or program, so that it takes URISA in a new direction and/or enhances our standing in the professional community.
Past Recipients from URISA-Ontario:
1995 Sandra Crutcher
For a full listing, please visit: www.urisa.org/awards