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App: HikeSMART Hamilton

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Mission Statement

The anthropogenic impacts facing our planet today are compounding at an exponential rate, threatening the biodiversity of our ecosystems and the survival of our green spaces. With this in mind, it is essential that we consider the environmental state of natural spaces around us and remain aware of the habitats within our communities.

While throughout human history most people lived in smaller communities, there has been a significant shift towards urbanization in recent years. As of 2007, more people live in urban areas than rural areas, and this trend is projected to increase, with 68% of people estimated to live in urban areas by 2050. As the world continues to urbanize, a larger focus must be placed on urban ecology in order to preserve the natural beauty around us and enrich our well-being. Ecology is vital to human health and urban green spaces provide many benefits such as improving air quality, reducing noise, and enhancing biodiversity. Therefore, it is essential for humans and wildlife to find a way to coexist as our world rapidly expands.

Hamilton, Ontario, one of the most highly industrialized areas in Canada, is also known as the waterfall capital of the world. It is home to over one hundred waterfalls, more than most urban areas its size. However, as urbanization sprawls and industries continue developing, the ecology of these natural landmarks is becoming damaged or disappearing altogether. Maintaining urban ecology requires dedication, effort, and the willingness to remain knowledgeable of threats to local wildlife. 

The purpose of HikeSMART Hamilton is to increase awareness of the city’s nature as well as to promote the sustainable use and conservation of nearby trails. With this app, users will be able to view details about nature trails in Hamilton, Ontario, in correlation to nearby Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA). ESAs are areas that include natural features or have a significant number of ecological functions. Not only will this app provide users with a localized database of hiking trails in Hamilton, but also allow them to gain insight into the city’s ecological essentials so that users can be more aware and appreciative of the space they are in while also being further educated on important trail etiquette.

Video Presentation


Team Members

Leah Smith: I am a third year student in the Honours Integrated Science program and a new ECCE student associate. I’m concentrating in earth and environmental science while pursuing a concurrent certificate in GIS. My academic interests are related to the applications of GIS in geological and historical analyses. I am currently working on an independent project where I am using historical aerial imagery to conduct a change detection analysis of the main McMaster University campus in Hamilton, Ontario, displaying how the campus and its buildings have evolved over time. Beyond academia, I love immersing myself in all things music, from playing ukulele in my bedroom to performing in the MacSci Musical.

Kaitlyn Ng: I am a fourth year Honours Earth and Environmental Science student pursuing a certificate in GIS. I took an interest in GIS in second year as a way to take a break from chemistry, and gained a passion for the multitude of analyzes that GIS is capable of. I hope to be able to apply my knowledge towards using GIS to visualize water contamination and pollutants. In my spare time, I like playing piano, squishing my dog, and reading sci-fi novels.

Elysia Feaver: I am a fourth-year Honours Earth and Environmental Sciences student and ECCE Student Associate pursuing a Concurrent Certificate in GIS. My passion lies in applying GIS to geology, and I am always interested in learning how spatial analysis can enhance our understanding of the earth. Outside of academia, I am an active member and treasurer of McMaster’s cheerleading team. In my free time, I love to get outside and explore nature, whether it be through hiking, kayaking, or just staying active.