Although he originally studied education in college, Aaron Chisholm found his love for geography and ended up getting his degrees in both—in fact, he’s even licensed to teach secondary education in the state of Pennsylvania—quite the departure from the work he did after graduation as a GIS coordinator in the oil fields of North Dakota. Now at ISG, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Manager enjoys teaching others about the latest and greatest GIS technologies, and going on “field trips” to ensure team alignment and gather updated data for clients. In today’s class, Mr. Chisholm will tell us more about both his unique work history, his literary and television fame, and the future of GIS.
When I was in North Dakota, I had a unique and challenging job as the GIS Coordinator for McKenzie County and Watford City. As a result, I was able to meet and interact with some amazing people and discuss real-world problems that needed real-world solutions. These people included President of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Neel Kashkari, as well as U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Cindy McCain, and more.
I was on the PBS show Almanac, and I’m also in a book! It was all kind of a whirlwind, but when I was doing GIS work for local governments in western North Dakota author Maya Rao interviewed me several times about my experiences and my job out there. I was working in the oil fields at the time, and she found what I was doing very fascinating, which culminated in her writing a whole chapter about my experiences in her book Great American Outpost entitled “Nobody Lives Here.” The book was released after I had already moved to the Twin Cities, so when she had an interview set up with Almanac in St. Paul, she asked if I would participate.
Watch Aaron’s PBS interview:
The collaboration, variety, and ingenuity that ISG brings to the table is truly inspiring to see. Coming from a career strictly in the public/government sector, it’s fascinating to witness how a private firm operates and how we bring so much diverse talent into a room to accomplish a common goal. Especially at ISG, I can see the common theme of utilizing the talent that surrounds you to develop solutions, rather than stumbling through something by yourself. Also, it’s exciting to work for a firm that’s committed to stay ahead of the curve in the GIS field. We want to set ourselves apart from others, and by exploring the latest and greatest technologies, we know we can accomplish that.
In general, technology has been advancing at an insane pace. The iPhone is not even 12 years old, but it’s now standard for Americans to have a smartphone. I’ve been in GIS less than 12 years, but still in that time the technology has advanced faster than most firms can keep up with. I see Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and 3D technologies as the future of not only GIS, but also the way all people interact with information.
GIS a growing field with constantly evolving and advancing technology. At ISG we are expanding our uses of GIS to help integrate some of these new technologies, including:
- Incorporating 3D technologies into our GIS products
- Utilizing mobile GIS applications such as Collector and Survey 123 for high accuracy data collection and workflows in the field
- Combining GIS and Adobe products to create higher quality maps
- Tapping into the Business Analyst software that ESRI has to offer that allows us to access thousands of demographic and consumer variables to understand our clients and communities better
- Using ESRI’s Story Maps as a presentation application to tell stories and present information to our clients
- Visioning crossover opportunities with our AR/VR services to better access and visualize GIS data
Because a GIS software as robust as ESRI can be an inaccessible investment for some, at ISG we’re able to leverage the software and our expertise to create interactive GIS web applications, allowing them to gain access to the functionality of GIS without their investment in the software or professionals. Additionally, utilizing our GIS infrastructure, we can house communities’ and clients’ GIS data and provide them a tool to access, edit, and maintain their own data without the need to purchase or maintain a full-fledged GIS system.
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