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Thread: How much GIS work do you do on a daily basis?

  1. #1
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    How much GIS work do you do on a daily basis?

    I'm a current double undergraduate major in Urban Planning and Informatics (basically Information Systems / IT). I have immensely enjoyed undergrad so far and the knowledge and skills I have gained from both fields.

    Nearing the end of my degree, ready to pursue a Masters, I am wondering which field to 'specialize' in, or whether to try and combine them where they pretty much intersect - GIS. I have found that I love working with GIS, and am considering doing a Spatial Science degree with a specialization in urban planning applications, or an Urban Planning degree in which I will hopefully get to use a good amount GIS experience.

    I was wondering how much GIS work you do on a daily basis in your work, and possible opinions about different fields or sectors of planning which require more GIS than others. Do you have many planners who use GIS in your office, or is there a 'GIS guy' with a different qualification altogether?

    Thanks for your help and any helpful advice in advance.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'm the "GIS guy" in this department when our GIS department decides not to cooperate (which is most of the time). I coordinate the activities of the planning techs doing basic GIS work while I do the more complicated things such as analysis. So I'd say most of my job involves GIS but I don't do anything such as addressing or drawing in parcels, that's the GIS department's job. The planners in this department are all proficient with GIS but they're not familiar with many of the cool things you can do with extensions such as spatial analyst. The techs on the other hand use GIS everyday but are still not comfortable with it beyond working off an .mxd created for them.

    The thing with GIS in planning departments is that many people who have been in the field a while have no formal training with GIS. They know all the basics but are often unfamiliar with stuff beyond that. If you can demonstrate you know a lot of that stuff, it may be enough to carve yourself out a GIS niche in a planning department.

    As for what sectors of planning use GIS the most, that really depends. I'd lean toward saying site location (real estate) and environmental planning.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    My first gig was almost 100% GIS. After about a year there, I was taking on more planning stuff, and now, four jobs later, I do no GIS at all.
    What do you mean I can't plan? My SimCity has 200,000 people with a 99% happiness rating!

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    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    My planning work at the local government level has only required using GIS sparingly, but it definitely has been useful knowing the basic applications. When I was an intern at an MPO, I used GIS everyday for more advanced analysis. I still say despite the fact that I don't use it all the time now it has been a great skill to include in my Resume.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mizukage View post

    I was wondering how much GIS work you do on a daily basis in your work, and possible opinions about different fields or sectors of planning which require more GIS than others. .
    Echoing the 14 other threads on this subject, if you want to do mainly GIS work, you must hire yourself out to a MPO, University, or a firm that does some sort of detailed analysis, such as on the environment or air quality monitoring/mitigation. There is some work in scenario analysis, but again with firms that specialize in that sort of thing. Like the others, my skills have deteriorated though lack of use, and I learned on a low release of v 3.x. My experience with GIS Departments is much the same as Blide's.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I work for local government and I get to do GIS maybe once a month. We have a consolidated services agreement with the County so they now do the vast majority of our GIS work. If it is something quick or simple then I sometimes do it just so I don't get too rusty.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    I work for a very large municipality, and I do very little GIS work. Mostly zoning verification and aerial views.

    We have a GIS department that handles database entry and maintenance, large projects, and all the assorted GIS stuff. They do not get to do anything else, because they are not planners by training or education. They are all techies.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    I'm not a GIS techy, but I use GIS (mostly on the interwebs) routinely in researching information for EIRs.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Basically none. I just use it for informational purposes.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    During my internship we used very little GIS daily, besides our master update of the zoning map (which was one of the reasons I was there). GIS was also used for rezoning letters but more often the county GIS website was used for that.

    One thing Ive noticed in my job searching is if you're looking for GIS related jobs, concentrate heavily on Python and Database management. My school severely lacked with this, and I feel like I'm very far behind because of it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    One thing Ive noticed in my job searching is if you're looking for GIS related jobs, concentrate heavily on Python and Database management. My school severely lacked with this, and I feel like I'm very far behind because of it.
    This is some good advice. GIS education can be extremely lacking in some areas. Some programs focus on analysis, some focus on the nuts and bolts of data creation, and others focus on the programing and database side of things. If you want to work heavily in GIS, I'd get familiar with all three areas.

    Personally I feel pretty uncomfortable with programing and database management, so I kind of regret not taking classes on them in school. I don't really need those skills now but it'd be nice if I ever decide to pursue more GIS related positions in the future.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I'm in a small office of two planners (myself and the director) and I do GIS all the time. I'm sort of the GIS point man for the community these days. I did have a GIS course in grad school, but I learned on MapInfo, rather than ArcGIS. This taught me the basics of GIS, but it was still a crash course to learn all of ArcGIS's intricacies once on the job. It's a cumbersome program, but a highly effective one once you've figured it out. In fact, I'm using it right now to create a route map for a community walking tour. Bear in mind that I don't do any of the really complex stuff like spatial analysis or GPS integration.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I currently do GIS full time at my job (in both ArcGIS and MapInfo). I currently juggle between both GIS platforms, and somewhat regular work with queries in Microsoft Access and spreadsheet work. I work in an industry distantly related to some parts of land planning, and I maintain AICP even though I no longer practice actual planning. I had 6 internships in college and two after college, of which five of them involved GIS to some level (some of the gis-related internships had a land element but not necessarily related to planning). At my first full time job I did all of the mapping in AutoCAD and in my second full time planning job I did mapping in ArcEditor.
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