Position Profile

Job Title:  Data Services Specialist

Work Unit:  Corporate Services Division, Informatics Branch, Information and Data Provisioning Services

Ministry:   Alberta Environment and Parks

Competition Number:  1041219

Date:  March 2017



The Data Services Specialist is responsible for providing technical and programming expertise to enable the provisioning of Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) spatial data both internally to the Government of Alberta (GoA) and externally to the public, industry, academia and other governmental and non-governmental agencies. This position provides Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technical and programming and is expected to work closely with the Spatial Database Support Unit in the development and maintenance of scripts to facilitate the distribution of digital spatial raster and vector data and metadata in a variety of formats. The Data Services Specialist is expected to develop customized scripts for specific types of data extraction, facilitate the communication process, provide technical advice for new and updated data, streamline the archival process when distributable data are updated, automate processes where possible and ensure functionality when infrastructure and software upgrades are installed. The Data Services Specialist will facilitate the conversion of hardcopy products into an appropriate digital format and enable packaging of all digital products as well as supporting distribution through web mapping. This position is responsible for maintaining the master distribution data packages and will work closely with other units within Information and Data Provisioning Services (IDPS) to enable the flow of data from acquisition to distribution and will provide training to other staff members where required.

Responsibilities and Activities


The Data Services Specialist is responsible for AEP corporate digital spatial data distribution technical support. This position provides technical leadership and direction in support of developing dissemination capabilities for delivering geospatial data to meet stakeholder needs. This includes:

  • Participating in the development of automated processes for bundling of data packages.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the existing master suite of data distribution data, metadata and packaging documentation as well as any associated software
  • Participating in the development of software to enable the participation of AEP and GoA in open data initiatives for geospatial data when required (i.e. Open Data, GeoDiscover Alberta, Alberta Data Partnerships Ltd.)
  • Providing metadata capture and management tools support for Federal Geospatial Data Committee formatted metadata and providing updated distribution metadata content (Distribution Information, Use and Access Constraints, Security Classification) for distributable data
  • Developing and documenting (SharePoint site to be established) best practices and creating and updating process models and data models to support the extraction of clean standardized consistent data
  • Collaborating with other IDPS staff to develop processes to acquire, load, convert, process, store and deliver data products to internal and external government users

The position is responsible for facilitating raster and vector data (e.g. Base Features data, digital elevation model, imagery and LiDAR) distribution to internal and external clients.

  • Understanding and providing technical support in the loading, viewing and processing of various raster and vector formats within ArcGIS and other GIS platforms
  • Providing support for the distribution of raster and vector data, including software support for image cataloguing and inventory
  • Providing a contact point for client queries about distributed raster and vector data sets and engaging the appropriate business area(s) responsible for the data to assist in responding to clients’ queries
  • Planning to ensure the appropriate packaging of raster data sets for distribution with consideration for the increasing size of raster data stores

The Data Services Specialist will be responsible for providing support and backup for web mapping. This will involve:

  • Participating in client consultations for the creation of web map services and web mapping applications development
  • Updating existing web map services and providing maintenance for existing web mapping applications
  • Maintaining any associated documentation for web map services and web mapping applications
  • Assisting in the management of web application software upgrades and migrations

The Data Services Specialist manages the external and internal data distribution website development, maintenance and updates for content. This includes:

  • Developing new content for the external and internal websites that is consistent with GoA and AEP standards and that meets client needs
  • Working with the data authorities and custodians and IDPS staff to monitor and update the websites to accommodate changes in the data being distributed by IDPS
  • Co-ordinating website updates with AEP Web Services regarding new data and updated data releases and metadata loading into GeoDiscover Alberta

The position is responsible for GIS technical training and support to internal and external clients. This includes:

  • Providing training and support to resolve technical issues with data downloading and use (File Transfer Protocol and compression software, database formats and structure, GIS loading and use and browser and mobile device compatibility)
  • Extracting for distribution in co-ordination with GeoDiscover updates, announcements and website updates
  • Facilitating input into distribution process models, standards, specifications, best practices and guidelines development with emphasis on data downloading and website maintenance
  • Participating in the upgrade of existing software (relational database, GIS and web mapping) and the implementation of new database technology and performing testing and training where required
  • Collaborating with the Data Administration Unit and consulting with data authorities and custodians in the development, documentation, support and update of standards for data and metadata
  • Collaborating with other IDPS staff to develop processes to acquire, load, process, store and deliver data products to internal and external government users accompanied by appropriate metadata and communications

As a member of the Spatial Database Support Unit, the Data Services Specialist is responsible for providing oversight and direction to geomatics and contracted staff where applicable. This includes:

  • Providing training and support of the geomatics technologists responsible for data provisioning in the performance of their tasks
  • Providing quality assurance for database and applications development initiatives to ensure a consistent high standard of work
  • Assisting in the prioritization of projects and assignment of staff and budget
  • Coaching and mentoring geomatics staff where required
  • Consulting and co-operating with the other IDPS staff to ensure that the acquisition, storage, management and dissemination of departmental data follow an efficient path



The Data Services Specialist is an advanced technologist who provides technical advice, programming support and problem resolution to facilitate the dissemination of geospatial data to stakeholders within the Ministry, the GoA, other government and non-government agencies, industry, academia and the general public. This position provides technical expertise in the distribution and use of digital geospatial data in order to support Ministry and GoA initiatives. The Data Services Specialist will interact with government and non-government staff to ensure that distributed geospatial datasets conform to current ministry standards with respect to formats, supporting documentation, licensing agreements and any other distribution protocols. This position is expected to facilitate the Services of data to key external sources such as the Alberta Data Partnerships / AltaLIS as well as the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). This position will interact with internal and external stakeholders within the government, non-government organizations, industry, academia and the general public.

Digital spatial data has unique requirements and architecture including multi-layered software that is often accompanied by compatibility issues. There are multiple formats and a diversity of processing tools that the Data Services Specialist will be expected to understand and provide support for. This position is expected to provide solutions when technical issues arise and engage in testing to prevent technical issues that may accompany new installations and upgrades. The Data Services Specialist will frequently be required to work closely with the Spatial Database Support Lead and may be required to provide backup for that position if needed.

The work of the position impacts the availability, currency, and accuracy of the data utilized in Ministry and GoA initiatives. The data from the AEP repositories is utilized in planning, regulation and emergency management by all ministries within the GoA. It is also used by other governments at all levels including Municipal, the US federal and state governments, non-government organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, industry such as Forest companies and oil and gas companies and their consultants and academia.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities


This position requires a diploma in a related field plus 4 years of directly related experience or equivalent with emphasis on GIS, geomatics, remote sensing, survey science and natural resource information. This position requires demonstrated proficiency in programming, database design and applications development.

This position requires knowledge and understanding in the following areas:

  • Expert knowledge of GIS and associated software, particularly ArcGIS and ArcSDE
  • Expert knowledge of ESRI GIS products including the ArcGIS suite of tools (ArcMap, ArcInfo Workstation, ArcCatalog and Arc Toolbox) to create, edit, process and analyze digital spatial data
  • Expert understanding of geomatics and cartography
  • Expert knowledge of file transfer and compression formats and techniques
  • Expert knowledge of relational database management including development, implementation and maintenance
  • Expert knowledge of metadata standards and construction, particularly ArcGIS ArcCatalog and the metadata compilation principles and standards, such as FGDC and ISO 19115
  • Good knowledge of AEP data and business areas
  • Good understanding of survey science
  • Good knowledge of digital elevation model, image and LiDAR data structure and processing
  • Good knowledge of the Windows operating environment, office software and project management software
  • Good understanding of emerging trends in spatial data acquisition, management and distribution
  • Good understanding of AEP Information and Data Services data licensing procedures and third party data intellectual property rights protection requirements
  • Good understanding of policies regarding the management of government corporate records
  • Good understanding of the use of geospatial information on mobile devices
  • Good understanding of risk management where government datasets are concerned
  • General knowledge of spatial data processing and analysis as applied to environmental and natural resource information
  • General knowledge of programming languages
  • General knowledge of web mapping services and applications
  • General knowledge of GoA data and business areas

This position requires the following skills and abilities:

  • Python and Visual Basic programming skills for developing applications within ArcGIS
  • SQL programming within a relational database management system environment
  • Good contract management skills
  • Strong project management skills
  • Strong motivational skills
  • Good organizational skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Excellent problem solving abilities where there is no accepted standard to follow
  • Ability to think creatively in the design of hardcopy and electronic materials
  • Supervisory, leadership and mediation skills
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team-oriented in a collaborative environment
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Creative thinking, analysis and problem solving skills


  • Supervisor, Unit and Branch Staff: To assist in the development of plans, strategies and initiatives to meet program objectives and provide technical support to ensure the Services of spatial data.
  • Ministry staff, agencies and partners: To ensure the timely and appropriate Services of spatial data and to facilitate ministry business.
  • GoA Ministries: To ensure the timely and appropriate Services of spatial data and to discuss data requests and data sharing opportunities.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), academic and public agencies: To ensure the timely and appropriate Services of spatial data and to discuss data requests and data sharing opportunities.

Supervision Exercised

  • This position does not supervise any permanent staff but may supervise wage staff and external consultants under contract to Information and Data Provisioning Services.


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