I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.
But I also know this…
GIS IS EASY (if you let it… or don’t know any better)
I have worked in companies where “GIS” (I put it in quotes for a reason) is used only as “Make a map for that” group. Without analytics or science behind it… maps and GIS are easy.
I have also worked in companies where people doing GIS work have zero training and get by doing the basics. Clip a line? Yup. Add points? Yup. Make a polygon? Yup. Spatial analytics for proximity analysis? Nope.
In these cases, no one takes GIS to the next level because they don’t know how, or worse… they don’t need to… because GIS is easy.
I have said this before a few times, but it is a fact that we as GIS folks must accept. In fact, knowing this will help you win your future GIS battles.
This is where I really started to think… how do I get ahead in GIS?
The soltuion are two words that means so much…
The solution is build systems. The systems I am talking about are a set of principles or procedures to which you complete your GIS work.
What is a GIS system?
When I was a GIS analyst, I noticed I was doing the same things over and over again when projects started up. I would receive a location for analysis, create project foldes, build the database, create maps, create infographics, and send out a PowerPoint document.
So, I created a “Project Start Up” system with a set of principles and procedures that needed to be followed.
I further noticed that consistent procedures and principles happend at many stages during project. In many cases, when the projects where in different locations, all required similar actions, similar data, similar analysis… you get the picture..
So, I created stages of systems. “Start Up”, “Production” and “Completion”. I created steps for each, documents for each, and procedures for each.
I also learned to be flexible because not all projects were equal in scope or importance. Projects also were different due to location, data limitations, and time. But I still had a system to rely on.
I learned three very important lessons I learned while creating these GIS systems that I will share with you now.
Being Organized Matters
When you develop systems for your GIS, you become hyper-organized.
Being organized is very important for GIS folks. We need to know where our data is, what it is, and how we got the data. This will set you appart form the ramdon GIS users that get by with the basiscs.
Structured Thinking -> Creative Thinking
With a system in place, you can start thinking in steps and procedures and know how long and when projecst will be complete… and then break the system (or side step it)
Once you know how things work, your creativity can sky rocket because you know how to change things up and why to change them up.
Building a structure system to enhance creativity sound strange, but it works.
System creation is more important GIS skills
The biggest take away I realized while developing systems for my GIS, is that systems building is needed in EVERYTHING and well into the future..
While you think GIS is going to be your career, in many cases it wont be. 80% of people change their careers every 5 years (me included).
Understanding how to develop systems in what ever job or endeavor your do is massively important.
You may only be spatial selecting data for the next 5 years, but you will need to be able to simplify and create systems forever.
Start now to get ahead.
and Have fun!
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