GIS Analysis & Information Systems

ESSA has been building environmental information systems since our founding in 1979. The emergence of geographic information systems in the early 1990s allowed us to apply our experience with decision support tools to more spatially explicit problems, and we’ve been building on that expertise ever since.

Today at ESSA spatial technology extends beyond map making. We bring an interdisciplinary skillset of traditional GIS, geostatistics, modelling, spatially enabled database building and geospatial web programming, all in the service of helping people make better decisions in the face of complex environmental challenges. We gather data from many sources–workshops, real-time environmental sensors, legacy ecological datasets, remote sensing–and feed that data into GIS analyses, computational models, and real-time decision support tools tuned for natural resource managers.

Once the analytical work is done we can translate the results into clear, digestible information using specialized cartography, infographics or narrative scientific communication. Over the years we have produced a range of map-based communication products such as watershed habitat status report cards, salmon Conservation Unit snapshots, watershed-scale stream temperature models, and provincial-scale fish species distribution models.

We know that often the greatest challenges aren’t technical, but are in figuring out the right questions to ask, how to ask them, and how to interpret the answers. ESSA’s strength is having experts in multiple environmental domains working alongside experienced spatial technologists, accelerating the cycles of designing, implementing and interpreting.


Services that we provide in this space include: 

  • User requirements assessment 
  • System design, development, and implementation 
  • Spatial analysis 
  • Specialized cartography 
  • Spatial modelling 
  • Remote sensing and image analysis 
  • Spatial database development 
  • Geostatistical analyses 
  • Web-based decision support tools 
  • Technical documentation 
  • Training/technology transfer 


Technologies that we integrate include: 

  • Desktop and server-based geographic information systems (GIS) 
  • Computer simulation models 
  • Geostatistical software libraries 
  • Spatially-aware relational databases 
  • Real-time sensor networks 
  • Web application frameworks 

Key projects showcasing these services:

  • Coastal Adaptation State of Play for Natural Resources Canada (knowledge synthesis paired with infographic)
  • Assessing the International Market for Canadian Adaptation Goods and Services for Natural Resources Canada (infographics)
  • Invasive Species Policy Summary Graphic for the Marine Plan Partnership (original vector figure)
  • Skeena River Estuary Habitat Report Cards for the Pacific Salmon Foundation (data report cards)
  • Strategic Stock Restoration Initiative Public Program Overview Brochure for the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee (glossy public outreach brochure)