Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network
The Canadian Co - op GIS Database coming soon... Tim Petrou (York University) This summer at the 2015 CASC Conference, co-operators will have the unique opportunity to participate in an interactive workshop exploring how co-operative studies can make use of open data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The workshop takes its cues from a multi - year project that has endeavoured to map the co - operative difference . Nearly all of the provinces have reported in and a national interactive map of Canadian co - ops will soon be made available. By using open source platforms and public data sets, we are able to study co - operatives from a whole new perspective — quite literally a bird's eye perspective! But there is much more to GIS than simply mapping. Regional trends, time sequence analyses, and a completely new suite of statistical vantage points will empower future researchers to get a glimpse of Canadian co - ops in a whole new light. Underlying this novel technology is a database that has been built to collect and aggregate co - operative information. Since the activities of Canadian co-ops encompass a vast and diverse spectrum, it is infamously difficult to study Canadian co-ops as a single sector. Despite all of this diversity every Canadian c -op has at least one attribute in common — each has an address. A GIS has the potential to house all sorts of attribute information that might correspond to any given co-operative, co-operative sector, or territory. GIS are unique because these systems are built around the single common attribute, that being a geo-spatial co-ordinate. We can add further attributes such as the "kinds" of co-operatives, membership characteristics, financial data, or environmental data. The possibilities are limited only by what can be measured, empirically or otherwise. All or any of these data can be subjected to statistical and spatial analysis resulting in the production of infographics, charts, or other metrics that visualize complex and multi - faceted analytics in a way that makes them accessible to everyone. At this year's CASC Conference in Ottawa, we will be hosting a more detailed discussion and further demonstrating the possibilities that GIS opens up for co - operative studies. It will also mark the official launch of the first Canadian Co - op GIS database. Our database will be free to access and free to use as a repository for Canadian co - op data. The aim is to gain support for this initiative by providing ongoing and open access to co - operative data while building the depth and richness of this resource through facilitating future co - operative studies and encouraging researchers to contribute new attribute information for future reference. We hope to see you in Ottawa and are excited to be bringing GIS to Canadian co - operators.