Let me start by extending my thanks to those of you who have called, emailed, or met with me over the past few weeks as I get settled into my role as State Cartographer. I am excited to be here and look forward to meeting more of you in the Wisconsin geospatial community.
My background in the geospatial sciences goes back to the early 1980s when, as a graduate student, I was first introduced to computer mapping software. I used SYMAP, SAS/GRAPH, and other early software packages running on large mainframe computers. In 1991, I completed a PhD at the University of California Santa Barbara under the tutelage of some of the pioneers of GIS, including Waldo Tobler, David Simonett, and Michael Goodchild. At Santa Barbara I got involved with the newly created NCGIA (National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis) and worked on their first research initiative on spatial data quality.
As an academic geographer, first at Kent State University and later at the University of Minnesota, I carried out research on spatial data quality and error propagation modeling, which tries to explain how error in input data is transformed by GIS-based analysis procedures. My objectives were to help users find simple ways to estimate the quality of final output products and minimize the introduction of error.
I have always been interested in practical applications of geospatial technology and in helping users find ways to more effectively harness the technology. As an academic I actively sought out experiences that would help me ground my research in practical, real-world issues. For example, I spent a summer at Microsoft in 1997 working on mapping software proofing tools for early address matching and routing software products. My interests in the applied aspects of GIS in part explain my decision in 2000 to leave academia to pursue an opportunity in the private sector at Rand McNally.
By the time of my departure from Rand earlier this year I was Director of GIS Operations with a diverse staff of geographic researchers, GIS analysts, and production cartographers. My team was responsible for research and production of Rand’s national and international products, including the Road Atlas, the Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas, the Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide, and custom and educational products. In addition I served as editor of Goode’s World Atlas for the 21st and 22nd editions. The latter is the first all-digital edition of the atlas and was produced primarily with ESRI software.
I am looking forward to the many challenges associated with my new role as State Cartographer. What appeals to me most about the position is the opportunity to work closely with a diverse array of geospatial professionals who are working to enhance the role of geospatial data and technology in all walks of life. The State Cartographer’s Office is known and respected throughout the state due to the commitment, knowledge, and dedication of its staff, both past and present. SCO staff combines deep knowledge of the technology with an understanding of the real needs of the Wisconsin geospatial community. As such SCO is able to engage in activities that significantly advance geospatial practices and applications.
I am beginning my outreach efforts to learn more about who you are, what you do, and how SCO can help. In the coming months I will be meeting many of you on site visits, at conferences, and through the activities of professional organizations. In the meantime I would love to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to call or email me, even if it is just to introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about you and your organization. I would particularly enjoy hearing your views and thoughts on the changing landscape of geospatial technology and the implications of these changes for your business practices.
I am looking forward to a long and productive relationship with you and all geospatial professionals in Wisconsin.