Saturday, December 17, 2011

What careers for a geographer today?

From Your Tricities News source: County planning director: We need full-time GIS person
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. -- Sullivan County needs to “bite the bullet” and hire a full-time GIS, geographical information system, person, the county’s planning director said Wednesday.

The county is in the middle of the redistricting process, which requires large amounts of technical and mapping data. A GIS professional uses satellite and geographical maps along with computer software. The person can adjust boundary lines, prints maps of certain areas of the county or locate an address after a 911 call.

“GIS is a powerful tool that can help all departments in the county,” Sullivan County Planning Director Ambre Torbett said.

The county uses a part-time private contractor, Russ Davis at Landmark GIS. Sullivan County has $30,000 in the annual GIS budget and uses Davis six or eight hours a week. The extensive mapping work for the redistricting has used a large portion of the budget and Torbett said the county might not be able to use Davis for a couple months after the work is completed.

At Wednesday’s Sullivan County Commissioners Redistricting Committee meeting, some commissioners were concerned about not being provided information in a prompt fashion.

A full-time GIS person could improve the process, Torbett said.

“There is so much work that we could be doing to make everyone’s life easier,” she said, adding, “This committee isn’t the only one that could benefit from a highly skilled GIS person.”

Commissioner Mark Bowery said he supports the idea and wants to work with Torbett to see if it is possible to hire someone. Torbett said she would draft a resolution for review.

She said she has been trying to get a full-time GIS person at the county for a couple of years.

“I ask the mayor [Steve Godsey] and he says these are hard economic times, and we don’t have the money,” Torbett said.

Davis said the GIS system is an important tool for counties and other governments and added that it is “limitless” how much a full-time GIS person could help the county.

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