URISA Ontario - A Short History


The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1966. From webinars and workshops to multi-day conferences, URISA presents an abundance of educational programs, offers volunteer GIS expertise through its GISCorps program, and assists government agencies with benchmarking GIS maturity through its GIS Management Institute. URISA fosters excellence in GIS through its programs, guiding and supporting GIS professionals throughout their careers.

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, members are from diverse backgrounds in both the public, private and educational sectors and is recognized by other organizations as Ontario's GIS organization.

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!) Today, URISA Ontario plays a significant role by providing timely and informative educational sessions on various geospatial topics.

URISA Ontario partnered with the Tri-Committee, MISA, and AM/FM to host 3 very successful municipal conferences (1991-93) and also developed workshops such as the Disaster Strikes and the Basics of GIS. 
Quarterly program events and the annual GIS focused BeSpatial 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 in Toronto in 1997 and again in 2016.

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 diverse membership. A strong base to serve our members well into the future.



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