Daniel recently joined Abley as a GIS Consultant. He obtained his Masters in GIS at the University of Canterbury and made a significant contribution to the health geography field with his research on the influence natural environments have on mental health within an urban context. Shortly after graduating, Daniel moved to London and spent two years working in the Insurance Sector as a GIS analyst. Here he worked on developing a ‘global risk index’, highlighting risk exposure to a number of Perils such as earthquakes, tropical storms and wildfires. Most recently, he spent 6 months at Auckland Transport as a GIS contractor and worked on numerous transport projects throughout the Auckland region.
What made you decide to become a GIS Consultant?
I really enjoyed geography and environmental sciences at University and find GIS a great way to use those fields in a practical way alongside modern technology. GIS is also an incredibly diverse specialty and I knew that it wouldn’t limit me to work in any one field.
What did you do before joining Abley?
After completing my Masters in GIS at the University of Canterbury, I moved to London for two years where I worked at Willis Towers Watson, an insurance brokerage and advisory company. In the spatial analytics team, a big part of our job was to predict, analyse and map potential risk, such as natural disasters, terrorism and cybercrime.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part about GIS is that it can be used in so many disciplines. In the last 5 years I have worked in conservation, health geography, academic research, renewable energies, insurance and transport. Each field has its unique set of challenges and no two days are the same.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Spatial data can come from nearly anywhere in any one of hundreds of data formats. A big challenge is making sense of all that data in a coherent way. To do this, we as GIS analysts need to understand our data, how it can be used and (often more importantly) how it shouldn’t be used.
It can also be pretty challenging explaining what GIS is to muggles. Luckily Stu from what we do in the shadows does a pretty good job. “It’s like google maps but with more layers.”
What’s been your career highlight so far?
I was invited to present my post-graduate research at the International Medical Geography Symposium in Michigan, USA. Using spatial analysis and statistical modelling I found that people living in Auckland with increased access to green space (such as parks and forests) had improved mental wellbeing. It was a great experience getting to meet other specialists in the field and the snapshot of life on-campus in the states was an eye-opener. This experience ultimately led to me publishing a number of academic journal articles in the health geography field.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m keen on the outdoors and try to get out and enjoy it as much as I can by tramping, cycling and skiing. I have also recently started importing and selling e-bikes with a friend and am enjoying the challenges that come with it.