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App: Understanding Petroleum & Health of Indigenous Life & Land (UPHILL)

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Mission statement

The United Nations (UN), as part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, has identified Good Health and Wellbeing (Goal 3) and Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6) as part of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve and promote sustainable healthy lives and communities. The above identified health-related SDGs aim at promoting good quality of health by reducing the number of deaths and illnesses caused by harmful substances being released into water-related ecosystems, and ensuring the availability of clean and affordable drinking water for all. However, human actions and activities such as oil pipeline activities, that is, construction, operation and expansion, may cause incidents which pose serious threats to these goals. Incidents could be in the form of leakages/spillages of oil into water bodies, which lead to crises such as pollution of these water bodies and clean water-shortage. This has serious implications for public health, including deaths, illnesses and the scarcity of clean water especially for vulnerable individuals and communities such as Indigenous communities.

The goal of the UPHILL web application is to use 3D visualization and Operations Dashboard analytics to provide accurate visualization and important statistics about the effects of oil pipelines on the health of Indigenous communities in Alberta. UPHILL is designed to provide information on Indigenous communities in Alberta, the proximity of oil pipelines to these communities and water-related ecosystems, and oil pipeline incidents that have been recorded. This puts in context areas that are susceptible to oil pipeline incidents and therefore have their communities’ health threatened. This web application can be used by government officials, Indigenous communities and oil companies to identify these susceptible areas and this information can be used to influence further action such as putting measures in place to prevent or mitigate health impacts of oil pipeline activities. Addressing the UN’s SDGs on Good Health and Wellbeing, as well as Clean Water Sanitation, this app can be adapted to multiple scenarios with the health of Indigenous communities in other provinces of Canada where oil pipeline activities take place.

Video Presentation


Team Members

Manpreet Chahal: (left) I was the Lead Data Scientist for the team. I am completing my Master’s in Geography, working with Public Participation GIS and Heritage Planning at the University of Waterloo. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Science with a minor in GIS at McMaster University. My background in using GIS technology in my undergraduate thesis and thus far in my Masters thesis has given me the experience to gather, clean, organize, and analyze the data for the app. In my spare time, I enjoy playing sports such as basketball and soccer and watching hockey.

Robert Arku: (middle) I was the Lead Researcher for the team. I am a 2nd year Urban Planning Master’s student at the University of Waterloo (UW). I earned my undergraduate degree, BSc. Land Economy, at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Currently at UW, I am involved in a planning project which focuses on using participatory mapping to inform urban intensification projects. Past academic and research experience has equipped me with research and analytical skills which were used in this project. My hobbies include watching and playing football, and playing musical instruments specifically the piano and guitar.

Misha Kusma: (right) I was the Lead Analyst and Data Visualizer for the team. I am completing my Bachelors in Environmental Studies in Geomatics with a Minor in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. I have had the pleasure in using GIS and data science technology in a variety of workplaces including at the University as a research assistant, at the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the business support team, and at Statistics Canada as part of the elections registrar. My hobbies are game development, art, and animation.