Hello Small Town GIS

fpparker

gO Member
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May 23, 2018
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34
Hello Everyone,

My name is Frank and I'm a recent graduate from South Dakota State. I studied both architecture and G.I.S. minor in Geography. I've been out of college one year, and have been put in charge of managing all GIS for an engineering firm of about 60. We have multiple offices across the state. Currently I'm in development of creating and marketing GIS strategies for small communities for infrastructure mangement, and local government collaboration between departments. Many times we go through and set up small to medium towns/cities on a basic GIS system so they can better manage infrastructure and collaborate easier between departments. Such as the Street Department sharing information with Planning to map a bike trail proposal. As I continue to grow, I'm hoping to learn from others in this forum.

Beyond being a spatial nerd, I love the outdoors and traveling! I hope to get to know more about you guys and this forum grows more and more. Oddly enough, I found this website testing out Sedimentary Data filtering through twitter with the #GIS.

Best of luck to everyone,

Frank
 

Philip

geospatial Online
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gO Business
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Jan 26, 2018
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308
Hello, Frank! Thanks for joining gO and posting information about yourself.

It sounds like you have quite a job. When you first started in that position, was it a huge learning curve? Or did past experiences prepare you for it?

What software do you typically setup for town/city clients?

Thanks
 
OP
fpparker

fpparker

gO Member
Founding Member
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
34
Hey Phillip,

I leverage all ArcGIS online and offer to host their data, unless of course in bigger communities. Just depends on the level of integration they're trying to achieve. Small towns of 300-5,000 we can host that data. Now for large communities somebody probably already has the license and set-up.

My experience... there was none. I came on as an intern, and after 3 months was offered to go fulltime. The engineer behind the idea gave me what the goal was, and I had to make his dream become a vision. Since, the engineer quit, and has become my job to continue to feed ideas to the company on how to market the GIS so they can sustain me internally. I have other operations like making sure engineers have access to update aerials, drone technologies, etc... But my full-time work is more involved with municipality work. So yes huge learning curve. I didn't even know what a curb-stop was and now I'm enabling commnunities to better manage systems like this. Even rural water distribution, I've worked with managers to enable their field guys to locate pipes on their phones out in the field. It's quite extensive what I've been working on in just a year. Published over 200 maps in the last year and half working. There was basically no real DYNAMIC USE of information happening until I came along. All previous "GIS" technicians were second hand... Self-starter in a lot of ways, but I love the company I work for too much to go out on my own...

Ultimately my goal is to save the communities time, money, and energy with the technology by eliminating the process of "from scratch" maps where field workers are out there drawing hand maps and providing them to the engineers and spend anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 dollars every 4 to 5 years. They know what's out there better than anyone else, we just need to provide them the tools to better communicate. I'm in South Dakota where this all still new to people. I go to conferences and present on this all the time, and as we continue to grow these communities we'll be able to create smarter cities and in-return better self maintained and managed communities.
 

Philip

geospatial Online
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gO Business
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Talk about experience gained! Nice! It sounds like you really have served your company well. From what I've seen, you have definitely utilized the resources at your disposal to help the company and your clients out. I'm sure you have had many challenges to overcome (and you're probably still fighting them)... especially with fellow employees that don't "embrace" new technology. Future upgrades to this website will allow a place to upload conference slides, if you are interested (and allowed) to post them (in a special section).

What do you find most enjoyable since you started working there?
 
OP
fpparker

fpparker

gO Member
Founding Member
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
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I don't like to think it as though I'm serving the company, but I'm serving the communities I help out. That's what I enjoy the most. When I was a kid I worked to raise money for a skatepark. Fundraising, some of my own money, and donations, but the park was never built, couldn't get the funding. That really stuck with me. So what I enjoy about the work I do is that I can really help these communities. I tend to educate them on their rights to information, and sometimes suggest quit signing contracts that don't allow you to keep information. You pay tons of money for these PER's and are left with none of the information when you're done. So when another big upgrade needs to happen, you're looking to re-expend those costs to get a proper map, and often by a different engineer. I've never been to a community where the drawings that are left are even accurate. Precise? yes, but accurate? no. I would love to share my power point, on here...

And you're right, there are huge hurdles with this. For example, ONE or TWO guys run the entire operation, pool, utilities, signs, lawn mowing, snow removal, and much more. They're also typically from the age of 45-70. I have to make the project so simple, that there's no question. Intuition plays a key role in setting up these communities. I know I completed a solid project when they start asking questions that I want them to ask, such as "when I make change requests, do I call the engineer?" and not "how do I place a dot on the map?" That's probably one of the biggest challenges of this line of work, for now.
 

Philip

geospatial Online
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Jan 26, 2018
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I believe that every company has these employees that have been there... forever. Ones that don't want to learn and are not open for change. Those are the "fun" coworkers. (Sarcasm)

I think I'm like you, if they pay for the data, I believe they should own it. With the education that you are giving them, they will be better off making valuable decisions in the future. Education plays a role that governments, municipalities, and businesses can actually use GIS to save money in the long run by making informed decisions, saving them money (and potentially tax payers').

What you have said above is great! I could go on and on agreeing and giving examples of what I have seen, but I'm trying not to preach... I would only be preaching to the choir (and I'm not as articulate as I'd like to be).
 

Shimonti Paul

gO Newbie
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
2
Hi Mike,
I must say you are doing awesome work! Share some stories on your work to read on...
 
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