The Emerging Spatial Professionals (ESP) group is made up of professionals, graduates, and students interested in GIS as a field or career. Nick Dragunow and I were fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Taupō during the first weekend in December.
On Friday afternoon, we closed ArcMap, waved goodbye to Clover (our office dog), and made our way south through the perilous Auckland traffic. The conference kicked off on Saturday morning with talks from Ian Smith (Auckland Transport), Sean Audain (Wellington City Council) and Duane Wilkins (Land Information New Zealand) – three experienced and insightful speakers. Ian spoke about his role at Auckland Transport as Enterprise Information Manager and his passion for integrating geography and GIS into mainstream IT. He believes that in the future, our greatest challenges and opportunities will result from digital disruption and the ways in which we integrate innovative technologies into the workplace.
Sean spoke about his role as Innovation Officer at Wellington City Council, describing the search for common truths and problems across the city’s administration and the steps he takes to solve them with GIS and data visualisation.
Duane shared his overseas experiences implementing GIS and mapping initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq. His presentation also included workplace bullying and the manners in which this might be resolved. A big thank you to the presenters, for taking the time to attend and sharing such interesting insights.
The weekend also included orienteering and other map-related activities, providing us with a opportunity to head outside and explore the local area. In addition, five minute lightning talks were delivered by ESP attendees. To hear about such a wide range of topics, technical capabilities, and interesting research from such a small pool of professionals was brilliant! Topics ranged from drones, data science, and robotics to volunteer mapping in Ghana. Nick and I both gave lightning talks (on the importance of personal projects and geoids, respectively), and appreciate the opportunity we were given to present to our peers. Congratulations to everyone who gave it a go, particularly Melanie van Enter, who won the prize for the best lightning talk, for her presentation on spatial analysis, Archey’s frogs, and climate change.
Saturday night wrapped up with a dinner and quiz night – a chance to catch up with everyone and reflect on the day's learnings. A big highlight for us was the announcement that Interpret was awarded NZESP's “Organisation of the Year” and our Group Manager, Chris Morris, won “Mentor of the Year”, both in recognition of our support and ongoing development of graduates.
Overall, it was an awesome conference. A big thanks to the committee and Nathan Heazlewood for their hard work and time taken to organise this event. If you were on the fence about coming, definitely check it out next year!