GIS in 100 years? What will it be like? What will we be like? (Silver Suits for EVERYONE!)

I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine about the future of GIS. We got talking about artificial intelligence (AI), (which I like called “Matrix optimization” at this point), brain implants, extremely high-resolution live satellite coverage, miniature bug drones, brain implants, and even Aliens?!

AI and ML, the NOW of GIS
AI and ML, the NOW of GIS

I pointed out that AI and machine learning (ML) is not the future, it is the now. Same with drones (maybe not minuter bug-sized ones), and the same with live satellite coverage. 

I wanted to think about the FUTURE, future.

We tried to think about what the “FUTURE” really meant. 10 years? 20? 50? How about 100 years into the future? What would GIS (and the world for that matter) look like in 100 years?

There have always been predictions about what the future was going to hold. In the early 1900’s there were movies about space travel or fantastical technologies like “A Trip to the Moon” and “Metropolis”. More fanciful than reality, sometimes dystopian, but very imaginative.

Science Fiction can sometimes predict the future... and sometimes not.
Science Fiction can sometimes predict the future… and sometimes not.

Star Trek from the 1960’s made massive predictions about the future including portable communication devices, such as the communicator which mirrors the mobile phones of today. There are even movies made from the late twentieth century, like the classic “Blade Runner” set in 2019 with off-world space travel, replicants (artificial humans), and flying cars.

The strangest one that blows my mind is the near-universal NON-prediction of the internet. No major sci writer, prior to the actual rise of the internet, predicted the internet. Azimov had “electronic libraries”, but not a massive communication network.

Antibiotics, the miracle medicine that combats bacteria infections, was not fully realized until 1928… which is not quite 100 years ago at this point. Think about this, people died back then from infected cuts. Yes, that can still happen today, but nowhere near as bad as it was.

This brings me to GIS 100 years from now. I am not concerned about the technology… but how GIS is going to be used. My friend and I came up with the following:

Population Decline

This is inevitable in a world that is getting richer, or at least more people are being lifted out of poverty. This means more education, more money… and fewer children. The richer and more educated women are, the fewer children they have. This means that, with a richer world population, the overall population will reach a peak in 2050 and most likely decline in 2100.

Realestate is perfect for GIS
Realestate is perfect for GIS

How does this affect GIS? Areas once allocated to food production will return wild. Suburbs of houses will be unfilled, and vast expanses of commercial zones left empty. GIS will have to address unnatural open spaces, access environmental risks in these spaces, and help understand what to do with them.

Autonomous transportation and supply train.

I would bet this happens sooner than 100 years. Massive systems will be in place to coordinate thousands of autonomous vehicles on roads, in the air, on rail and by the sea… and space?! GIS and machine learning will be absolutely essential for coordinating the flow of products, and people.

GIS and ML will control ALL transportation
GIS and ML will control ALL transportation

Human drivers will simply be too dangerous and slow. The statistics will be obvious, humans are the dangerous weak link when it comes to driving and navigation. In fact, driving is the most dangerous thing you do every day.

There will be a time when your few great-grandchildren (if you have any at all… see point 1), will look wide-eyed in amazement at how you tell tales of actually driving a car and just how dangerous it was.

GIS will ensure maximum safety, and maximum efficiency, and aid in maximum job loss… which brings us to the next and last prediction for GIS.

Cave Men With Robots… Art, Craft, Emotion

100 years from now, automation will have eliminated most low-skill, low-cognitive, and high-risk jobs. Driving will be the first to go as ML and GIS makes roads safer. Followed by low-skill jobs like fast food workers, cashiers, office workers, and manufacturing whose jobs are already disappearing.

Be human, be social, be emotional, be a caveman
Be human, be social, be emotional, be a caveman

The more technology takes over, the more human we have to become. The more we have to return to who we are as humans. We must harness our bodies by engaging in physical activity, we must embrace our emotions, and search for meaning in the labour of our hands.

How does GIS fit in this? 

GIS will remain a powerful art and craft. Imagination and emotion can be put in maps. Perhaps it will be on a smaller scale, say individual gardens. It could also revert to hand-drawn maps as a craft valued by other humans.

GIS in 100 years will be vastly different than it is today. Technology will change, but humans will stay the same. Emotion is what we will need to harness in 100 years and beyond.

Note I didn’t include “climate change” here. Why? In the early 1900’s cities had a massive problem that threatened the health of millions of people. 

It wasn’t climate change, it was a “Horse Poo and carcass” problem. Horses were the main form of transportation, pooed constantly, died often and were left on the roads to rot.

Horse poop was once a massive city hazard
Horse poop was once a massive city hazard

Streets ran brown with horse poo attracting flies and other pests. Dead horses were left to rot until they could be moved.  When the poo dried, it created horrible clouds of dust.

In fact, in 1898, it was predicted that big cities would be buried in horse poo within 50 years.

Did this happen? No. A technology called the “Automobile” came along and changed everything.

Any predictions about the horse poo and carcase problem were gone, and no one could predict the problems automobiles would bring.

In my humble opinion, “climate change” is one of those eventually to be a non-issue with the advance of technology.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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Can online courses make you more hirable? Probably… but will you remember what you learned? Probably not… try these.

Online courses are great… but do they work?

Continual learning is essential to advance your career in every field. There are so many free learning opportunities and resources online it is a wonder we are not experts in everything by now.

Dude… there is so much online… why are you not an expert in everything?

Online courses are also great to fill in the gaps while you are between jobs. (PS… I should know!)

On LinkedIn people have been posting their online course certificates showing off their efforts. The “certificates” are digital pieces of paper you receive upon completion of courses which can be as short as a single hour to weeks of time commitment.

Over the years I have completed many of these online courses. These courses range from learning geophysics concepts, understanding machine learning, programming, marketing, and copyrighting to software usage and resume writing.

No, I do not get any kick back from these logos…

You can get these courses from Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and hundreds of other sites on the interwebs. Whether you want to write better, learn how to make a paper airplane, start a blog, do a hobby, or do #GIS, there are courses out there.

But do these courses help? The short answer is maybe… and but probably not.

You might just be wasting your time (but you can change this).

Here is why.

According to research people will have forgotten 50% of what they learned within 24 hours, and forget 90% within a month.

Memorization has it’s place, but in reality, it will be gone soon after you

As you power through your machine learning course, introduction to Python, and “Cooking on the Go”, in a month you will have a nice digital certificate… and (most likely) barely remember what ‘print “Hello World”’ does (Hint: It prints “Hello World”)

This memory retention is not just about online courses. This also applies to school, college, university, and corporate training. This is a big reason why I dislike rote memorization.

Having been in academics for many years, I could talk endlessly about the problem with rote memorization. This cycle of “learning” is not ideal, but does have its place. For most people, it is a setup to “win” in the short term, while losing in the long.

Just “Doing”/”Memorization” does have its place. If you need to retain definitions, names, dates, or terminology… memorize them away. At least with memorization, you are practicing which can lead to long-term retention.

But online courses, with short videos, hand-holding exercises, and (if you are lucky) an actual exam… will be gone from your memory banks in a few days or months.

Here is the good news. This is ok as I like to remind people, knowing what is happening means you can game the system.

If you are rationally aware of what is happening, you can make better choices.

If you know you are going to forget, you can plan to focus. If you know you are going to forgot 90% of what is coming at you, focus on the 10% that matters most.

This works. I went from an average student, to straight A’s with this method.

I have 5 tips you can ensure that those online courses are more effective for a longer period of time.

Use what you just learned… RIGHT AWAY.

Did you take a course on Python? Don’t wait for a project to come up at work, find something to solve right away.

Use what you learn… RIGHT AWAY.

Did you take a project management course? Again.. don’t wait for a project to come up at work, use the work in your own life.

This may not be possible with high-level courses, so do the following.

Repeat the course… again… and again… and again.

Repetition is the key to retention. For students and people between jobs, this HAS to be your first go to make your learning stick.

Repetition is a great way to make sure you learn.

Repeating the course is most likely free, you can use different data (maybe) or tools or ingredients. This is important especially if you are unemployed and do not have access to projects.

When I took GIS at college, I made a point of redoing all my assignments from the start, twice. Doing the assignment once wasn’t enough to understand. Doing an assignment once could be randomly correct. Don’t do the assignment twice… better… three times… BEST.

Go to the next level.

There is always more to be done. There is no “last course”, there is always something to solve.

There is always a bigger fish.

This is a mistake that most beginners have… thinking there is an end.

There is no end. Keep going.

Keep going.

Teach what you just learned.

Something happens in our minds when we are required to teach others things we know. I experienced this often as a grad student.

Teach what you know, you will learn it way better.

I don’t know what it is, but our brains force us to understand something more deeply to not look like idiots to others.

As a grad student, I was often asked to teach laps or tutorials for lower-level geoscience classes. I literally had one to two days to “learn” a topic and teach it. I probably learned more in a day teaching those classes than I did in weeks in normal classes.

Not a grad student? That’s ok… be the go-to student to help people out with assignments or advice. Make a YouTube video. Help your kids.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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No one is going to promote you… so promote yourself to advance your GIS or Geoscience career. PS: Your first attempts will suck… get over it.

I was recently on twitter and I saw a quote that I am twisting to fit this blog post.

Self-promotion is hard. Being unknown is hard. Choose your hard.

No, this is not a black and white issue. You can be known without ever using social media. You could probably even go your entire GIS and geoscience career without ever using social media.

But social media is free, powerful, a little bit of a minefield and people use it everywhere, all the time.

You use it all the time… so you might as well be on social media to promote yourself.

In this post, I am going to talk about how you can automatically start harnessing social media to make yourself 10 times more hirable in the job market.

You will not only make yourself more hirable, but you will also learn to communicate better, learn to market yourself, and learn to public speak (if you go the video route).

Chances are you already spend (far too much) time on social media already.

According to studies, people spend 2 hours 23 minutes a day on social media sites.

This means people (YOU) are online a lot… and will be online A LOT MORE into the future.

We do love our social media… in some cases it’s “Anti-social” media.

Social media use varies between apps and platforms, but the numbers are telling.

Turns out by statistics, you are already poised to harness social media.

Social media has been good for me (so far).

I started my YouTube channel, Twitter account, and Instagram in 2015. Signing up was all a strategy to prove that YouTube could be used for Geoscience education.

When I create educational videos, it takes 5 h ours per minute to develop the video.

8 years, 11000 subscribers, 100+ videos, 550,000+ views, and hundreds of posts later, social media has worked out for me.

While I am no PewdiePie or whoever else is on top of YouTube, my social media story is a success story (to a reasonable degree) and you can have success too.

You don’t have to jump in like I did and start creating videos. Videos are great, but they are also hard.

There are a few steps you can off with to get your online self-promotion started.

Sort out your crappy LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with professional people and allow companies to see who you are.

Serious people… one good image is all you really need to start.

You are probably making serious mistakes on your LinkedIn that you need to fix TODAY.

First and foremost, you need a good profile picture. I ignore connection request if people do not have a picture.

Make sure your headline is interesting and relevant.

Here is a secret… you can use the picture for your Twitter / Facebook / Instagram… and you will have “brand recognition” doing this. Your face and headline are consistent across apps.

Check our more way to make a better LinkedIn account here.

Start a YouTube channel.

If you have research or work results you can share, create a video to show it off. Perhaps you have a topic you love to teach… make a video.

Several great things about YouTube… it’s free… it’s easy…. AND IT’S FREE… Start today.

Perhaps you have a capstone project for school, or thesis, or a term projects… create a video of the results. Almost anything you have to give a presentation on… create a video for it.

Comment / Share / Like… just engage.

Engaging with people on your social media apps is the easiest way to start self-promoting.

The more you engage, the more you get a feel for what you will need to do for better self-promotion.

Become social media savvy.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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You’ve got the Geographic Information Skills to get hired… but what else you got? Answer: You better be this…

I love geographic information systems. The endless possibilities in coding, the variety of visual designs, and the unlimited application in multiple industries are perfect for a creative person like me.

But it occurred to me…

Is GIS enough to get hired? Is having great GIS skills enough?

Answer: No… GIS is not enough... but it is a start!
Are you GIS skills enough? Probably not... but it is a great start!
Are your GIS skills enough? Probably not… but it is a great start!

This is not just because GIS is usually an “add-on” skill, but because things change.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we will change jobs every 4 to 4.3 years.

That means whatever you are training in or doing now is not going to be what you are doing in 5 years, let alone 10.

This is only going to increase with the rise of the gig economy.

…not to mention the continual advancement of technology.

This includes anything you are trained in. GIS, Geoscience, Engineering.

It is important to understand this because as the old G.I.Joe public services announcement says.

Knowing ahead of time that things are going to be different allows you the ability to change faster.

Knowing that things change gives you the ability to plan to change faster.

Remember though… the following still applies!!!

Skill sets and “Click-here-do-that” are very important.
Being able to speak GIS and hold a professional conversation is important.

No matter how you look at it, you need the skills to be effective. You need the skills to get GIS done.

But here is something you need to know…

Skills are common and GIS is easy.

Like it or not, GIS could be considered the “Word Processing” or “Spread Sheeting” of your company. Need a map? Call Bob. Need a graph? Call Jane.

Everyone knows how to type in Word, and everyone knows how to use Excel. They may not do either well, BUT they may do it well enough to get the job done.

What this means is that if you are not careful, you can easily be replaced, or they might not need you at all.

This comes back to what a GIS instructor once told me:

The “Shallow” is an aspect of the problem, more to do with how we represent GIS.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure you stay competitive in GIS.

Be Obsessed with GIS, or be average

This idea comes from the marketing world of Grant Cardone. He talks about becoming obsessed at a skill to be the best in the world at it. He talks about sales… but it is applicable to GIS.

Eat, Think, Drink, BE GIS

Being obsessed is figuring out how to be better.

Being obsessed is learning how to learn.

Being obsessed means that you will know the ideas inside out.

Being obsessed means you will keep up with trends to know what is coming next and know what to abandon quickly.

Being obsessed means doing the work that other people are not willing or able to do.

If you are going to learn something, go all in.

How can you be obsessed?

Listen to podcasts:

https://cng.fireside.fm/

https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/podcast/

https://mapscaping.com/blogs/the-mapscaping-podcast

Attend online seminars.

Read Blogs.

https://www.gislounge.com

https://geographicinformationsuccess.com/blog

Watch Videos

https://www.youtube.com/drchrisgeoscience

https://www.youtube.com/RiccardoKlinger

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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I love geographic information systems. The endless possibilities in coding, the variety of visual designs, and the unlimited application in multiple industries are perfect for a creative person like me.

But it occurred to me…

Is GIS enough to get hired? Is having great GIS skills enough?

Answer: No… GIS is not enough... but it is a start!
Are you GIS skills enough? Probably not... but it is a great start!
Are your GIS skills enough? Probably not… but it is a great start!

This is not just because GIS is usually an “add-on” skill, but because things change.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we will change jobs every 4 to 4.3 years.

That means whatever you are training in or doing now is not going to be what you are doing in 5 years, let alone 10.

This is only going to increase with the rise of the gig economy.

…not to mention the continual advancement of technology.

This includes anything you are trained in. GIS, Geoscience, Engineering.

It is important to understand this because as the old G.I.Joe public services announcement says.

Knowing ahead of time that things are going to be different allow you the ability to change faster.

Knowing that things change gives you the ability to plan to change faster.

Remember though… the following still applies!!!

Skill sets and “Click-here-do-that” are very important.
Being able to speak GIS and hold a professional conversation is important.

No matter how you look at it, you need the skills to be effective. You need the skills to get GIS done.

But here is something you need to know…

Skills are common and GIS is easy.

Like it or not, GIS could be considered the “Word Processing” or “Spread Sheeting” of your company. Need a map? Call Bob. Need a graph? Call Jane.

Everyone knows how to type in Word, everyone knows how to use Excel. They may not do either well, BUT they may do it well enough to get the job done.

What this means is that if you are not careful, you can easily be replaced, or they might not need you at all.

This comes back to what a GIS instructor once told me:

The “Shallow” is an aspect of the problem, more to do with how we represent GIS.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure you stay competitive in GIS.

Be Obsessed with GIS, or be average

This idea comes from the marketing world of Grant Cardone. He talks about becoming obsessed at a skill to be the best in the world at it. He talks about sales… but it is applicable to GIS.

Eat, Think, Drink, BE GIS

Being obsessed is figuring out how to be better.

Being obsessed is learning how to learn.

Being obsessed means that you will know the ideas inside out.

Being obsessed means you will keep up with trends to know what is coming next and know what to abandon quickly.

Being obsessed means doing the work that other people are not willing or able to do.

If you are going to learn something, go all in.

How can you be obsessed?

Listen to podcasts:

https://cng.fireside.fm/

https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/podcast/

https://mapscaping.com/blogs/the-mapscaping-podcast

Attend online seminars.

Read Blogs.

https://www.gislounge.com

https://geographicinformationsuccess.com/blog

Watch Videos

https://www.youtube.com/drchrisgeoscience

https://www.youtube.com/RiccardoKlinger

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

Get hired faster in GIS

Double your GIS Job Interviews now

GIS and Geoscience content

Great video content for GIS and Geoscience

GIS and Geoscience Merch

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How to use GIS, Python and Geoscience to get hired! Hint: it’s about multiple cross-industry skills because… cross-industry.

Hey Everyone! 

I have written about geographic information systems and geosciences being a perfect match. GIS deals with the 2D world we live in, and geosciences deals with the 3D we explore.

In that blog, I talked about making sure you use GIS right away in your geoscience workflow for a complete view of your data.

In another blog post I talk about what people value in GIS. People want solutions to their problems, not your GIS.

This is slightly different in the geosciences as entire industries are set up around geoscience problems and their solutions.

But what happens when a whole industry no longer needs solutions?

The skills and solutions graph for geoscience looks like this.

A “One Skill” industry and it’s solutions are always going to be nerve wracking problem.

If you are in oil and gas you know this cycle well. This cycle occurs in many resources industries.

You may even be currently feeling the pain of this cycle.

This is not your fault. You cannot control global energy markets. You may not have even been able to control your university education.

University education is one of the problems.

I spoke with a university professor at a geoscience conference last year. I asked her if her universities geoscience program was including programming skills as essential for a geoscience degree.

Her answer was no, no specific programming course for geoscience… not good.

A traditional geoscience university education looks like this.

This is a university education, but not what really happens in life.

People on average change their job every 4.0-4.3 years.

This means your skillset needs to rapidly change, or be cross-discipline over your lifetime.

Your lopsided university education is outmoded in a matter of years.

Here is something important, you can take your education into your own hands. You can learn skills to keep you viable.

It is not too late, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be good.

Your skillset should look like this.

University skills are good, but cross disciplinary and personal skills are way better.

So how are you going to go about getting these skills?

Online Training (and purpose)

Python courses are all over the internet. Have a look yourself. You can get the skills, but that is only step one of 400.

Learn the skills you need to get ahead on line. It is pretty easy, but it does that purpose.

You can do this will almost any other skill. I am currently doing this with business intelligence and blogging.

The purpose is in there because you can take the courses and still fail.

I failed the only programming course I ever took at university and three years later I was programming geophysical software.

When I failed the programming course it was because I did not have purpose. When I excelled at programming it was because I had a purpose.

School Training (and purpose)

In the case of GIS, there are courses offered at college levels that are short and comprehensive. You will get all the “click-here-do-that” you need… and still not get job, unless you have a purpose.

You can get short real world training at Colleges… just like online, but with a real person!

Here are some more statistics, many people are happier after a career change.

There is a reason for this. People’s first choices of career are almost always not choices but random events, or events picked for them by other people. Most people lack purpose in their lives.

Purpose is a massive way forward.

Purpose behind the choices of your cross-disciplinary skills or your career will drive you to be successful.

How do you find a purpose? I have no easy answers to this. I can offer only snippets of advice from my life.

Programming – Purpose: Turn all the complicated calculations and actions into simple lazy clicks.

GIS – Purpose: Have a cross industry, visually creative skill set that is super fun!

Geoscience – Purpose: Science. I love science. I hate the job cycle… but love science.

Finally….

Become a Caveman.

You need to take care of your health. You need to eat right. You need to exercise and lift weights. Education and industry training does not matter if you are sick and unhealthy.

Get your health, your emotions, you life in order as well.

Most people miss this one completely. Don’t miss this one.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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3 Easy Steps to Sell Your GIS idea to Sceptics… number 4 will blow your mind! (see what I did there!)

I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

I have had my fair share of great GIS ideas that I thought were sure bets. I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that GIS was the way to solve a lot of their business problems. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to convince sceptics that GIS is the way. However, there were a few things that took me a long time to learn.

GIS is like not always the solution… but GIS!

First, you can’t convince everyone all the time. No matter how good you think your GIS for lawn maintenance crews will make people’s lives easier, many just won’t care and stick with the old way of doing things. This is normal and fine.

I spent months showing off a set of really cool maps, and features that were connected online with dashboards showing project progress. I showed how our office and field teams could work better together, I showed how clients could be engaged.

I got a hard no… again… and again… and again. There was simply no way I could convince my employer that GIS was the solution to their problem. 

On one hand, I was disappointed, on the other… I realized a second valuable lesson.

If you can’t convince people your GIS is a great solution to a business problem… take as much out of the situation as possible. What do I mean?

I mean experience, skills, learning experiences, emotional highs and lows… take as much out as you can. 

Knowing that you can’t convince everyone and still maximise your own results, is massive. Knowing that you can get more out of every situation is half the battle…

Knowing is half the battle.
Knowing is half the battle.

Here are the three things I learned about persuading GIS sceptics whether they accept my results or not.

Show Don’t Tell

This means building the GIS you know will work, and showing the results to the sceptic. Don’t talk about it, don’t even just show slides… build it.

Show, Dont' Tell
Do the work and show what you are capable of doing. Talking only gets you so far. Only results matter.

A hint on this one, the GIS you build… doesn’t have to be complete, it just has to be complete enough. A great set of symbology, a (mostly) working model, and a great sales pitch go a long way.

It takes a bit of work on your end, but showing is 100 times more powerful than simply talking about the GIS solution you can build.

And… you keep the learning, and if the data is yours…  YOU KEEP THE RESULTS.

(more on this below)

Talk to the GIS Sceptic… A LOT

You may have a great GIS idea to solve your sceptic’s problem, but the problem is THEIRS, not yours. Yes, you can take on the issue to help them, but they want to be understood. They want to be heard.

The more you talk to your GIS sceptic, the more you will understand them.

Humans are emotional creatures. No matter how much you want to believe we make decisions on data and logic, we always make decisions on emotions.

The more you talk to sceptics about your GIS idea, the more they will feel understood, and the more they will accept your idea. Be human and talk to your GIS sceptic.

You learn to listen, and you learn to be better at GIS.

Learn for YOU, not for them (you keep the EVERYTHING)

This one is counterintuitive. When you build the system, you “sort of” get to keep the results. If you work for the company you show your GIS idea to, they technically own your work. But! What they can’t own is your experience, they can’t own your future ideas, and they can’t own your future!.

Learn as much as you can
The more you learn, the more experience you build, and the more people will take you seriously.

How does this convince the sceptics to go with your GIS idea? If they are smart, they know you now have the ability to build something… for the competition! You are now more valuable than the results… you can make more results.

A few years ago I was let go from a job I loved. None of the code I wrote, none of the maps I made, none of the analysis I built, was mine. It all belonged to my now former company.

But I kept something better. I kept my experience, I kept my new ideas, and I kept my future. I could build everything again different AND better. I could write code again but better. 

While you show the sceptic your GIS idea, learn as much as you possibly can… You get to keep what you learn.

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Geographic Information Systems gets in the way of solutions. Here is how you fix it and get hired…

I love the creativity of geographic information systems. I love the ability to combine programming, visual detail, and science into one cool discipline. GIS can be used in so many places… and here lies the problem.

GIS is not a career by itself.

Now all you knee jerk naysayers out there, hear me out.

GIS is best tacked onto another discipline. GIS is best as a compliment to a larger more complex career. Focusing on GIS as a career by itself is probably not a great idea unless you are developing GIS software… which again, means GIS is tacked onto another discipline… software development.

Now say this with me… This is a good thing.

This comes back to what a GIS instructor once told me:

The “Shallow” is an aspect of the problem. Sometimes digging deeper into GIS is not possible. Sometimes digging deeper is getting away form the solution.

GIS is not always the solution.

If all you need are directions from point A to point B, your GIS ends there.

If all you need are points on a map showing size differences for population, your GIS ends there.

If all you need is an Excel spreadsheet to track you metrics, your GIS ends there.

Sometimes the easiest solution is the right solution in GIS. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Of course, GIS can do some really cool stuff. Time motion analysis, mobile applications, statistical dashboards, image analysis, and the list goes on.

I listened to a Mapscaping podcast interviewing Adam Carnow, of ESRI where they talk about communicating GIS value and re-branding. Go listen to the podcast because it got me thinking.

I have written about “Value in GIS” and I know that communicating value is important. However, for most people communicating GIS values looks like this.

“If the higher-ups just saw the awesome GIS stuff we can do, it would all be better”.

Or

“If I just had a better GIS pitch, everything would work out perfectly”

These are wrong. Your GIS solution gets in the way of what people really care about. This is especially true if people in your organization can’t spell GIS.

People want to tune into ” WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me”).

People don’t care about your GIS. They have some issue they want solved and that could be GIS, or baking for all they care.

People are not interested in technology, they are not interested in GIS.

People are interested in solutions to the problems they think about the most… not GIS.

If a spreadsheet has done the job for years, your GIS solution gets in the way.

If bringing in mobile apps means more training and more money spent, your GIS solution gets in the way.

If multispectral imagery costs X+$100 with GIS, your GIS solution is getting in the way.

GIS IS GETTING IN THE WAY.

The truth is YOU are getting in the way. You have to change the way you think about GIS. You have to change the way you approach the situation.

If you want to be hireable or get ahead you need to think differently.

Here are a few steps you to take to ensure that your GIS solution doesn’t get in the way.

Learn to understand what other people want.

If you are like me, you love technology. So do other people. But they don’t care how it works, as long as it works.

People just want their problem solved, not your brainy GIS “stuff”

Learning the technology is excellent, but take some time to learn marketing, sales, and psychology. You can sell feelings far easier and faster than technology.

Start thinking of your GIS as emotional, as currency, as food that people want.

This requires talking to people. This requires going out and being interested in the people using your GIS. This requires understanding their needs and desires and how you can help them.

If they want to save money, talk about saving money with GIS. If they want to make money, talk about making money with GIS. Leave the technical talk to your close team.

Learn clear communication.

You can communicate multiple ways to people. You can communicate in ways that turns people off, or turns people on. Try to communicate to everyone, or communicate to the ones who matter.

Communicating clearly takes time and effort. The good thing is, you can start now.

Your choice of words matter, your choice of visuals matter, your choice of medium matters.

Give presentations. Create videos. Use infographics. Create a podcast. Write a help document. Make mistakes. Fix mistakes. Get better.

Communication is a skill you can actively learn.

Learn business skills and business intelligence

The biggest driver behind what is going to keep you employed and get you hired is money. Yes there are exceptions, but your ability to affect the bottom line in a positive way can make or break you.

Business skills are a long-term approach. I am going to tell you a secret… I have poor business skills. Here is another secret… I am learning business skills now!

These skills include; strategic planning, leadership, team building, sales, marketing (see above), negotiation, delegation, and financial management.

If you are reasonably ambitious, you will end up in a managerial role in your future. It is the natural progression of a job that requires you to understand business more than technology.

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Build a Bulletproof GIS… but before you begin, you have have this: Purpose

I love Geographic Information Systems, but this was not always the case. In this post, I am going to talk about the first step in building a great found foundation for GIS, and my future blog posts about how to build a bulletproof GIS.

You can start here if you haven’t even clicked your first buffer, if you just finished your last GIS course if you are struggling to get your GIS career off the ground or find yourself in a GIS rut.

I am going to teach you how to be 10 more effective in GIS, double your value in GIS, and massively increase your impact (and make more money) in GIS.

So what is a bulletproof GIS anyway?

Over the past few years, I have been putting together geographic information systems that allow me to maximise creativity, maximise my time, maximize safety, and maximize cash. I have made some huge gains along the way, but I have also made some huge mistakes.

What I am going to teach you is how to avoid mistakes and create a better GIS so you can have an amazing career.

Here is something not many people know about me, I few short years ago, I would not have been able to tell you what GIS stood for.

Yes, I used maps all the time, I even made maps in Photoshop and Illustrator for presentations, figures for scientific papers, technical talk slides, my thesis, and teaching. “Maps” had their purpose, but GIS was just not on my radar.

Then I found GIS, and I never worked harder, I never learned more, and I never loved a topic as much as GIS in my life. Yes, this includes my PhD in Geophysics (probably a blog or two on that one day).

Why did I work so hard and why did I have so much success in GIS?

It turns out that we humans are purpose-driven creatures. We do way better in life if we have a target that we are aiming at or a goal we are working towards.

The saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” should actually be “Where there’s a purpose, there’s a way”.

For me, my purpose in GIS was straightforward. I needed a job.

Little did I know when I started GIS just how awesome it is.

My purpose for needing a job drove me to figure out what I needed to accomplish.

My purpose in GIS changed rapidly as I progressed through my courses and shifted from “I need a Job” to “I need a job I love” to “How can I build a job I love?” and it didn’t stop.

The world of GIS has massive opportunities spanning multiple industries, using some very cool technology. Your purpose in GIS will shift rapidly as you progress, and that’s a good thing.

Finding your ultimate purpose in the world is a very large task and beyond this little blog post. It is well worth finding of course, and I encourage you to do your searching if you have not already discovered your purpose.

I have created a worksheet to help you figure out how to best deal with your purpose as it is related to GIS. You can download the sheets below.

TLDR:

Identify your purpose with respect to GIS. Do what it takes to get it done with respect to GIS.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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GIS is Awesome! So… now what? This is a little awkward…

Geographic Information Systems is AMAZING! It’s technologies and software are everywhere and used to generate not only an impact in the world, but also money! I fell in love with GIS (not literal love… geeez) after seeing it work first hand in field operations for resource exploration.

But I also noticed not everyone I knew who took GIS was getting a great job. Some had low level “click here, do that” GIS jobs, and some couldn’t find any employment at all. After getting asked over and over again on my LinkedIn account about GIS jobs, I realized something.

Skills are common, Mindsets are NOT.

Any keen person could teach themselves the GIS software through trial and error. I taught myself the Adobe suite of products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Aftereffects, Premiere Pro) over a number of years via YouTube (and Pre YouTube… yes I am little oldish). I am no Adobe expert, but I have skills. Skills are common, Mindsets are not.

A lady who trained in GIS at the same time as me was so mad about not finding a GIS job, she said “I could have learned all I needed to from YouTube videos!” For her, I would say this was true. She could easily have learned “Click Here Do That” from a video and she probably learned this why which is why she ended up with no job at all.

So let me reiterate, Skills are common, Mindsets are NOT.

We had the same practical training in GIS which essentially consisted of “Click Here Do That, Repeat”. I exaggerate of course, there is TONS to learn in GIS and the program I took can be found here which was AMAZING. Also, skills may be common, but they are very VERY important.

If you don’t know how to create a buffer from a subset of objects selected based on their proximity to an attribute within a subset of line features selected by attributed polygons in your Geodatabase, you are missing some very important fundamentals.

The difference between my GIS experience and others is that GIS is not just about the skills or the software, which are VERY important of course. What is essential for success and to make an impact on the world (and money), are mindsets.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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