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Mapping and Charting Establishment celebrates “The Big 200”

By Captain Jill Lawrence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command – 

Thanks to the work of the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) at Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, the Canadian Armed Forces has the world at its fingertips.

The MCE has achieved Lead Nation status within the Multinational Geospatial Co-production Program (MGCP), allowing them virtually unlimited access to global foundation geospatial data collected by 31 participating nations – available with just a few clicks of the mouse.

“This is a most decisive milestone in MCE’s history, the result of 13 years of outstanding dedication and professionalism in our Foundation Production Squadron. I am impressed by their attention to detail, stamina and motivation. What’s most important here is they have truly enabled CAF operations since the start of the program, and will continue to do so for the future,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Claire Bramma, Commanding Officer, MCE.

The MGCP represents a coalition of countries who have been collecting high-resolution geospatial data since 2005 for contribution to a central database accessible by participating nations. Each country is responsible to produce a number of cells of data at standardized technical and quality specifications. Each cell represents 1° x 1° which is enough data to produce 16 x 1:50k maps sheets. The quality assurance (QA) of all data is conducted by accredited nations, and Canada acts as the custodian of the program’s QA documentation.

To reach Lead Nation status, MCE extracted the data from satellite imagery to produce 200 cells – “The Big 200” – which they just completed in March. Their cells included areas of interest for Canada, which included locations throughout the Middle East and Caribbean. Participating countries did not collect data over sovereign territories.

The data now accessible to MCE can be used by units across the CAF and is an invaluable tool in not only planning, but executing operations. For example, MCE conducted near real-time mapping of hard-hit areas in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. The data collected was used to create maps that were sent to deployed troops to aid in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

“The MGCP data has proven valuable beyond any dollar value that can be assigned. Our business is producing data and maps to support of CAF requirements and our allies for international operations. To do this the MGCP has afforded us with unlimited access to, and the ability to contribute to, a global high-resolution dataset in the production of digital map data and hard copy maps,” said Mr. John Healey, Head of Production, MCE.

It’s estimated this geospatial data is currently worth roughly $1 billion which will grow as additional data is produced. Despite this incredible milestone, the work doesn’t stop for MCE who will continue producing cells and contributing to the growth of this valuable project.

For more information on how to obtain MGCP data or any other geospatial information visit MCE on the DWAN at


Caption: (L to R): Mr. John Healey, Head of Production, Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE); Lieutenant-Colonel Claire Bramma, Commanding Officer, MCE; Rear-Admiral Scott Bishop, Commander, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command; and Mr. Sean Noll, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Liaison, celebrate the occasion of the Big 200. Photo: CANADIAN FORCES JOINT IMAGERY CENTRE/MCpl Francis Gingras.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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