Prepared by: OCdt Rumbolt 26517;OCdt Clancey 26498;NCdt Ezekiel M1034

The Civil Engineering Class of 2015 visited the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) in Ottawa, Canada in order to learn about the different capabilities offered to members of the CAF in terms of mapping technology. The trip provided our class a chance to learn more about Geomatics and its usefulness in conducting missions anywhere in the world.

We departed RMC at 0630h and arrived on site at MCE at 0915h whereupon Capt. Fudge, 6 Troup Commander in Geospatial Information and Services, met us and was our tour guide for the day. The DCO, Maj. Hopkins, commenced the first briefing outlining the general organizational structure of the establishment. We were split into 2 groups to begin the guided tours.

Firstly, we visited the Geospatial Information & Services Squadron (GIS SQN) which captures, stores, and manipulates all the geographical data for map making. This Troop is essential for providing hardcopies and digital maps for any exercises or operations around the globe. James Blanchette was a civilian employee who showed the groups how to order geospatial data such as maps from the MCE website.

We then visited the Digital Production Squadron (DP SQN) which is responsible for providing 3D imagery which gives a detailed “boots on the ground” analysis of the terrain. This work is mainly done by civilians but is essential to establishing the correct elevations onto satellite images. Following this, we were shown the map making procedure of topographical maps in the CAF. The procedure includes using different color inks printed on thin aluminum sheets and then spraying them with water. The water is attracted to the sheet but not on specified areas where the ink is required. The maps are printed using tiny dots to ensure red light reflection on the map (tactical maps).

Figure 1. OCdt. Clancey and NCdt. Ezekiel view Topographical Maps of various Canadian Forces Bases and Training Areas.

Next we were shown the Geo Support Squadron by Lt. Sarsons. Its purpose is to maintain high readiness and to create a detailed map in a short amount of time (2-7 days). A detailed topographical map of Haiti was provided as an example. This map included satellite images of the dockyard and the airport for exercise purposes. This demonstrates some of the capabilities of the squadron which could be useful when conducting future ops.

Figure 2. Detailed Map of Haiti for Military Exercise

Lastly, Mr. Pierre Simard, the Engineering Officer at MCE, showed us different engineering projects that are ongoing at MCE. One specialist was working on a global elevation model whereby sea level and land elevations were integrated into one program to be analysed together on one world image. MCE has a large capability of storing data on site without having to back up the server. We also learned about Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) capabilities and the necessary equipment used in MCE. The DGPS shown in Figure 3 has an accuracy of up to 5mm in the horizontal and 8mm in the vertical. The handheld device has Bluetooth capabilities, which is state of the art and gives the user the ability to operate the system while being mobile with the prism rod.

The tour to the Mapping and Charting Establishment in Ottawa was a great eye opener to the capabilities of data collection and ultimate map making in the CAF. The trip gave an understanding of the importance of surveying and the collection of geospatial data which is used in all aspects of military operations. Without this information, it would be extremely difficult for any level of operations to be conducted from small section training exercises to large scale military operations. This experience also enabled us to prepare for the engineering trip to Comox whereby we will be using some of the databases and resources that we learned about while on the tour. This will be crucial to conducting our mission but also in learning about the resources available to members and officers in the CAF provided to us by the MCE of Canada.

 Figure 3. A member of the Troop 2 section explains the DGPS Equipment