Celebrating GIS Day 2020!

Aspectum Nov 18, 2020
Celebrating GIS Day 2020!
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Since 1999, November 18th  has been celebrated as the international Geographic Information System day. It’s main purpose is to popularize the GIS industry, to encourage people to learn about geography and spatial technologies, and to give people in the GISindustry their own professional holiday. Each year, this date serves as a good occasion to gather GIS-related events and exhibitions. 

But this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events are being held online. And we at Aspectum, as a part of the GIS community, would like to participate in the movement by interviewing industry professionals. We have talked with six GIS specialists, asking them simple questions to get to know them a little better –  not only as professionals, but as people. It is their day after all!

Peggy March

Peggy is a GEOConnector, Geographer, GIS Pioneer, Fellow Royal Canadian Geographical Society   

– Peggy, can you tell us how you managed to get into mapping and GIS?

– I have been labeled a ‘geoevangelist’. Geography and GIS are my passion. I got my first geographic education in K12. School has taught me critical thinking and gave me skills like problem-solving and decision-making. I recognized the value of GIS applications through contact with advocates from attending conferences in the 1990s. I completed a GIS course and with help from ESRI and others who were pioneering GIS in schools back then. I have worked as a consultant, curriculum developer, and have written articles/given presentations across Canada. I was extensively involved in Canadian Geographic Education, a division of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which enabled me to make contact with GIS professionals in education, industry, and organizations worldwide. Now, I informally research trends in the geospatial world and connect through my network, sharing contacts and information. I remain involved in Canada as a committee member of GeoIgnite.

– What keeps you motivated in the work you do every day?

– I am motivated by the enormous opportunities that GIS and Earth observation bring to humanity as we move forward facing enormous challenges. Building a sustainable world requires an interconnected digital ecosystem. I am inspired every day by the dedication and vision of the work by countless individuals and organizations to make this happen.

Olga Voitiuk

Olga is a GIS Specialist at Aspectum.

– Olga, please tell us about how you started with GIS.

– When I was studying in 11th grade, we had a meeting with our school’s graduates to talk about their university studies. One of them caught my attention – he was a cartography student. His story sounded unusual and original. It was fascinating to hear about how they make interesting maps, depict terrains, conduct calculations or measurements, what objectives they set, etc. That same day I decided on my career. I was always good with numbers, databases, logical thinking, and visualization, so this decision eventually brought me to cartography and GIS.

– What keeps you motivated to pursue goals in GIS?

– The best motivation you can have is to set a challenge for a day and observe the results once it is done. From one side of the coin, you are proud to solve a task relying on experience, and from the other – there are always new solutions and workarounds to be found. It’s fascinating to know that in GIS I have a lot of room for improvement, room for using my own creativity or someone else’s developments. 

– How do you see the future of the geospatial industry?

– The GIS industry has grown hugely over the last couple of decades. Some ten years ago not everyone had or could read a map and now we use them on our phones daily. Programmatic data processing is not the only thing that has changed. The number of data sources have grown too – from various spatial data sources on the internet to LIDARs, and UAVs with high-resolution sensors. It takes a lot of work before this raw data can be transformed into ready-to-use information, that’s why we use machine learning and neural networks. I think the industry will utilize these ‘AI’ trends more in the near future, and the tasks that took us hours to complete will only take minutes. This will also help with using GIS more in other fields, like agriculture or urban planning. 

Laura Mugeha   

Laura is a Regional ambassador for @YouthMappers

– Can you tell us how you managed to get into mapping and/or GIS? 

When I was in high school, a group of university students in Kenya came to our school to share with us about careers in STEM with a mission to improve the diversity in STEM locally. One of the students was pursuing a degree in Geomatic Engineering and GIS, and from her presentation, I became interested in space science and technology. A year later, I enrolled for an undergraduate degree in Geomatic Engineering and GIS at a local university, completed my studies in 2018, and graduated last year. While the course covered a wide of different geospatial fields, I was more excited about and loved classes that had a focus on cartography, geospatial analysis, and development.

While in university, through our YouthMappers chapter, I got a chance to learn more about open data and open source technology, concepts that I talk about and strongly advocate for. As a combination of the above, I have been able to kick-start an exciting career in digital development: using geodata to create impact within communities locally and regionally, and open technology advocacy: creating and supporting communities for users & contributors of open technology and advocating for the use of open tech within different institutions.

– What keeps you motivated in the work you do every day? 

Currently, I work full-time with a social enterprise in Kenya, Sanergy, where I support operations. First, being part of an organization that provides sustainable and impactful solutions keeps me going every day. Additionally, being able to implement data strategies that make teams to work more efficiently, and to not only provide insights but also see data-informed decisions being made reminds me of why what I do is essential. I also work as a regional ambassador for YouthMappers, where I get to interact with very passionate young leaders interested in using data for good: receiving feedback on training conducted, or other forms of support provided, motivates me as well.

– How do you see the future of geoscience? 

I envision the geoscience field being more open: increased usage and contribution to open data initiatives, free and open-source software, making geospatial technology accessible to all. I also hope to see more open and inclusive geospatial communities. Lastly, I believe that there will be more uses and applications of geospatial technology within different sectors in Kenya and Africa at large.

Maksim Malyuk

Maksim is a GIS Specialist at Aspectum.

– Can you tell us how you got into geospatial science?

– I loved geography and computer science at school and GIS is a combination of these two fields. Right after high school, I entered university to study cartography and GIS specifically.

– What keeps you motivated in the work you do?

– GIS is practically worthless on its own. The value comes from our cooperation with businesses like agriculture, retail marketing, and transportation. When you work on a specific project, you get a lot of interesting insights into how these industries work. This is the motivation that keeps me in. 

– How do you see the future of the geospatial industry?

I expect to see a bigger impact of machine learning technologies and computer vision techniques on the geospatial analysis processes.

Oliver Burdekin

Oliver is a Founder of burdGIS, providing GIS consultancy and training, database solutions, and ecological monitoring.

– How did you get into GIS?

I was lucky enough to take an intensive course on the coast of Mexico. Sun, sea, and maps.

– What keeps you motivated?

I really enjoy the training and teaching aspect of what I do. 

– How do you see the future of geoscience?

Many workflows are becoming automated and the rise of analysis ready and open data is very exciting.

Oleg Seliverstov

Oleg is head of the GIS department at Aspectum.

– Can you tell us how you ended up working with GIS? 

– My path was pretty straightforward. In school, it was geography lessons, some tourist and naturalist clubs. And as a result, we spent time drawing tourist maps for tracking, and making field observations. In university, I took special geography classes in addition to my main course. And after graduation, I worked in GIS-outsourcing and GIS-product type of projects. 

– What keeps you motivated?

– I can clearly see the potential that cartography has – in both consumer and business dimensions. It’s only beginning to unfold, since we are now just at the doorstep of a digital revolution, and geospatial data technologies are a significant part of that. This is what changes the world. And changes it rapidly. 

– How do you see the future of the geospatial industry?

– I can see the exponential growth of geospatial data volumes from both mobile and stationary sensors and satellites; more precise change detection and monitoring with integration of the “Digital Twin Earth”; unmanned transport and aerial traffic increases; integration of movement monitoring into common navigation and warning systems; increased geodata monetization; more predictions and solutions based on geospatial data, and finally – geodata privacy reinterpretation.

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