Latest Release of the Neptis Geoweb

The Neptis Foundation is pleased to announce a new release of the Neptis Geoweb.

The Geoweb is a powerful analytical tool that provides detailed regional planning information and map layers for the generalist and expert user, including researchers, students, policy makers, and professionals. It is designed to allow users to study a specific area in depth or see the bigger picture and the trends shaping the entire Toronto region.

The latest version of the Geoweb incorporates many additional data sets from the 2016 Census of Canada in two key areas:

  • In the Map section, users can create and share maps and generate insights by juxtaposing more than 150 map layers showing patterns of land use, transportation, agriculture, the environment, demographics, housing, labour, the economy, and commuter travel. A new tool also allows users to display the distribution of at least 200 languages spoken by residents across the region, including aboriginal languages.
  • The Profiles section, which provides information on individual municipalities and regional geographies, has been enhanced, and now contains more than 80 different thematic indicators for each municipality or region, including demographics, housing, income, languages spoken, jobs, and labour force data.

This, the third iteration of the Neptis Geoweb, marks its evolution from a simple mapping tool that focused on land use and the environment to a complex analytical tool that integrates data on transportation planning as well as the labour force and jobs that drive the regional economy.

First launched in March 2014, the Geoweb began as simple map display tool that featured 43 land use and environmental map layers. It was the by-product of a data collection exercise intended to answer the question, "How much land was set aside for urban development to 2031 as municipal official plans were brought into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe?" To assemble that data set, Neptis researchers drew on more than 100 municipal official plans from across the Toronto region.

Since its inaugural launch, the Geoweb has expanded and is now a powerful mapping and analytical tool that forms the basis for 125 geographical profiles from the municipal to the regional scale. Neptis staff have also added "Insights" to show how the data and map layers can be juxtaposed and synthesized to provide new information about the region.

The Geoweb has also evolved thematically. While data and information on land use and environmental planning are still part of the Geoweb, the themes of transportation planning and the regional economy are supported by new data sets.

For instance:

  • Key industry clusters that represent the region's 21st-century economic structure have been mapped.
  • The education levels of the region's work force have been mapped.
  • All major transit lines that exist, are under construction, are approved to be built by a certain date, and have been proposed but not yet approved are identified and mapped.

The Neptis Geoweb would not have been possible without the dedication of a team of professionals and the support of partners who contributed funds or data, or introduced the Geoweb to a new group of users.

The Greenbelt Foundation and Metcalf Foundation financially supported the Neptis Geoweb when its second version was launched in 2016. That version attracted many partners who were willing to share their data, including  the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  and ERA Architects.

A partnership with EcoSpark, made possible by a Places to Grow Implementation grant from the Ontario government, helped introduce the Geoweb to middle- and high-school students.

The latest release is the result of a partnership with Toronto Global, a not-for-profit investment attraction agency that supports the expansion of foreign-owned businesses to the Toronto Region and makes extensive use of the Geoweb. In 2017, Toronto Global approached the Neptis Foundation with a potential partnership that would allow us to improve the Geoweb and incorporate more data and information on the jobs and labour force trends in the region.

The partnership developed into a collaborative relationship with the Institute of Competitiveness and Prosperity at the University of Toronto and George Brown's Institute without Boundaries (IwB). Students from IwB's Class of 2018 were charged with designing prototypes that Toronto Global could use to spark a regional conversation and inspire international companies to set up shop in the Toronto region. The students were heavy users of the Geoweb and suggested some useful modifications for its latest release.

The wealth of information available on the Geoweb will help the public understand many of the forces that are shaping our fast-growing region.

So dive in, learn about the region, add your own stories, and inspire others with the Geoweb

The night of the presentation by the IwB Class of 2018. Left to right, Dorinda So, Institute of Competiveness and Prosperity; Bethany Moir, Toronto Global; and Marcy Burchfield, Neptis Foundation.