In 2014 and 2015, the town of Hudson, Quebec reached out to McGill University’s School of Environment for help digitizing and archiving its network of trails. Hudson has a legacy of environmental stewardship that sets it apart from other towns in the Montreal metropolitan region; in 2001, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the town's decision to ban both public and private pesticide use – no small feat considering the town's three golf courses and the large presence of industrialized agriculture in southern Quebec. In the wake of recent development, much of the published information on the town’s trails was no longer accurate and difficult to access.
I worked closely with professors and Hudson residents Jeff Cardille and Martin Lechowicz to develop a digital framework to visualize and archive trail information. By combining user-created GPS data, Google Earth, and a wiki site, a portal was created for the viewing of both static and dynamic content. Designed to be directly editable by residents of Hudson, the portal could be used to display any geo-referenced information about the town: trails, geocaches, pictures, historical photographs, even text and sound.
By leveraging the potential of freely-available digital tools, a living archive of Hudson’s natural spaces was created. In the face of continued development pressure, this framework provides a proof of concept for both Hudson and other small towns to easily establish a resident-led record of any shared resources. The package KMZ is available here.