1. What is your innovation story?
In the 1990s Trevor Wiens, the company founder, worked on the Traditional Knowledge component of the Northern River Basins Study and biophysical and cultural inventory projects for two northern Alberta First Nations. These projects impressed upon Trevor the need for effective tools to convert complex textual information into formats for spatial planning and environmental impact assessment. Trevor’s experience supporting citizen science projects and his teaching experience with GIS and spatial planning highlighted the need for user-friendly and purpose-built solutions to record and communicate the knowledge of non-technical land users. Indigenous communities in Canada have limited time, staff and resources but are required to communicate complex information to government departments and resource companies. It was to this end that Trevor founded Apropos Information Systems Inc. in 2010 and started development of the LOUIS Toolkit.
Our first module was LOUIS Heritage, which provides the means for in-person, map-based interviews to retain context by being stored as closely as possible to their original format with text, media, and spatial data stored and used together. In 2014, the Apropos team released LOUIS Referrals which is a consultation tool that is spatially aware and process oriented. The innovative Referrals design provides unprecedented control and flexibility while remaining easy to learn and use. In 2016 and 2017 we added the Layers module which is a general web GIS module. LOUIS Layers offers an operational and data management model that is simple and intuitive for non-technical users but meets modern data management standards. In 2017 and 2018 we are continuing to develop our spatially aware asset management module and updating our mobile tools to allow not only off-line data capture but off-line data editing. Our company focus continues to be on innovation and designs that match the needs of small organizations and remote communities.
All of the LOUIS modules allow for data to be securely shared so that disparate sources of information can be used together for community planning and operations.
2. Do you follow a sustainable development agenda (for people, planet and prosperity) in your company/business?
We believe that our internal operations should match our public goals and vision. As a company we believe that data driven decision making is essential to sustainable economic, environmental and social development. We provide tools for Indigenous communities to use and communicate their information effectively so that these local voices can be better heard on decisions that will affect their people and lands.
Internally we carefully consider feedback from clients and with this lens we encourage each team member to contribute to our product vision. We also carefully consider the professional development of our staff and provide flexibility in work hours so that they can maintain a good work / life balance.
With our clients we actively promote youth / elder collaborations for data gathering because it not only allows for effective digital capture of field data but also strengthens communities and provides support to the fastest growing population within Canada; Indigenous youth. We believe that successful Indigenous communities within Canada are integral to Canada’s future success.
3. If your enterprise could have a global application, what is your vision for transforming the planet?
We believe that the voices and concerns of local communities are a source of good ideas and a resource that needs to be used in large scale land use and project planning. Our work is currently with Indigenous communities in Canada but we see global application for these ideas and our technology as a way of promoting the inclusion of local concerns in large scale planning. We see the empowerment of local and diverse voices as essential for a healthy future both socially and ecologically.