From 10-12 October 2017, four of our Abley/Interpret team members attended the Australasian Road Safety Conference in Perth. Over 650 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and further afield attended this three day event to learn about the latest advances and research across a breadth of road safety topics.
Our team (from left to right): Dale Harris, Haris Zia, Subodh Dhakal, Carl O'Neil
The conference kicked off with an Early Career Professionals event that Carl, Subodh and Dale attended. The afternoon event included three speakers describing their career paths and career tips, including how to build networks, find mentors and maintain your passion for the industry. In between speakers there was a speed networking event and a ‘design a crash barrier’ challenge using only straws and tapes. Unfortunately, the questionable design of our barrier failed to save our egg-car from crashing and resulting in catastrophic eggshell damage!
The theme for the conference was “Expanding our Horizons” and this was apparent in the push for fresh proactive approaches to road safety across all the plenary sessions. Technology applications appeared throughout the presentations.
One example of this was Mhoria Donache’s demonstration of the NZ Police’s “On Duty” application that enables officers to check drivers and vehicles, issue infringements and report crashes in the field. The crash reporting application included an interactive mapping interface which allows officers to record crash scenes, including the locations of vehicles, road signs, debris and other evidence to support the crash report. Automated syncing of data reduces the need for data input and speeds up the process for issuing fines and reporting crashes.
Augmented reality and virtual reality applications are also increasingly being used to support driver training and road safety education. In the exhibition area, you could trial a virtual reality driving simulator using an Oculus Rift. Another presenter demonstrated a scenario-based augmented reality application that is being used to teach primary school children safe travel behaviours, including road and rail crossings, school zones, bus stop and rail platform safety.
It’s always interesting to stumble into sessions outside my realm of knowledge. In one session I learned that drivers travel much closer to cyclists where there is a marked cycle lane, compared to no cycle lane. In another session I learned that driving when “angry, sad or in a heightened emotional state” is riskier than driving while tired or using a mobile phone.
Being in Perth, many delegates took the opportunity to travel around the city and check out the local sights. For me , this involved a trip out the historic Fremantle Town Centre and hiring a bike to explore the city’s extensive cycleway network.
Blog written by Chris Morris, Group Manager at Interpret Geospatial Solutions
So you have taken my tips for creating a quality graduate CV and you now have an interview (of course!), what should you do next?
Here are my top tips for a successful interview:
1. Do your research
You did some research for your CV, well do some more! What kind of clients does the company have, what project examples are there? Demonstrating to your prospective employer that you have done some research will get you some serious brownie points. See what else you can find out about the people interviewing you, for smaller companies you should be able to find the people who are interviewing you. Check them out on LinkedIn. If it’s a larger company and you are going through the HR department, then ask who will be interviewing you.
2. Dress code
In New Zealand, we are pretty casual but this is an interview so make an effort to look smart - employers want to see that you are taking the interview seriously and that you look professional. Not every graduate has a suit, don’t feel as though you need to go out and buy one, but dress as smart as budget allows.
3. Two-way conversation
One of the mistakes I think a lot of graduates make is the assumption that an interview is a one-way conversation. You are being interviewed so it’s all about the employer getting to know the potential employee right? Wrong! An interview should be a two-way conversation, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. A good interviewer will recognise this and should talk about the company as much as they talk about you. This may be your first proper job, so you should ensure it’s the right one for you.
4. Prepare some questions
You will usually be asked if you have any questions, so make the effort to think about some questions that will be applicable. This can be quite hard because during an interview many of your standard questions will get answered. So think of questions a little outside the box. Perhaps ask what a typical day might look like for you, whether there is a graduate program, or what the company culture is like - ask the questions that your research didn’t cover off during the interview. Don’t go overboard but try to demonstrate your interest and investment in the organisation. Unless there is a specific discussion around salary, wait until you get a job offer to discuss that.
Nervousness at an interview can come from a couple of places. Firstly, you may be worried about what you will be asked and whether you can answer their questions. Secondly, nerves can come from confidence or lack of it. A good interviewer should explain the interview process, but if they don’t, then more often than not the interviewer will simply get you to run through your CV, so make sure you know it pretty well and can answer questions about it. Confidence is a little harder to manage and it comes down to your personality type. Always remember that you have been offered an interview and therefore the employer has seen something in you that they like. Try and enjoy it!
6. Team fit
Why are you being interviewed? Well at the very basic level it’s to check that you don’t have two heads. At Interpret, team fit is as important, if not more important than technical capability, which can be learnt. Your employer wants to know what you are like in real life rather than on paper, so do let a bit of your personality show.
7. Sell yourself
I remember sitting in an interview asking the candidate about what they did in a particular role. They had been doing some GIS work, nothing particularly complicated, but it was relevant experience. The candidate said that all they had done was make ‘maps and stuff’. This may have been the result of nerves or it may more likely have been because they were underselling what they had done, a tendency that lots of New Zealanders have. The interviewee may have only been making a map but that involves understanding from the client what it was the map needed to show, it demonstrated cartographic capability, it demonstrated communication skills and also a technical understanding of software. It may have only felt like making a map, but the skills required to do so are what I’m interested to know about. So, sell yourself, talk it up, and be proud of what you have achieved.
8. You didn’t get the job
Unfortunately, you didn’t get a job offer, what should you do now? Well firstly don’t take it too badly, you got an interview and at the end of the day someone else may have had more experience or be a better fit for the team. Take heart that if they got that job then they won’t be applying for the next one, and in any case you may fit better at a different organisation. However, do try to learn from the experience. A good interviewer will phone to let you know you didn’t get the role, so do ask for feedback. Find out how you could improve for your next interview.
9. You got the job!
Congratulations, now the hard work starts. But before it does, make sure you celebrate - you’ve done well.
Tale of Two Cities
As part of the Masters in Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program, Interpret have been involved by offering 100-hour internships, which provides excellent industry experience for students. The MGIS program is jointly taught across three campuses - Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, Victoria University in Wellington, and the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. During the internships, students have had the opportunity to put theory into practice in a wide variety of projects. Joshua Bilkey is studying at AUT and has been working in our Auckland office, while Malcolm Gollan is studying at the University of Canterbury and has been based in our Christchurch office.
Collaboration between the two offices is a key focus at Interpret. Both interns have been able to meet the other cities’ staff members through web communications and in person, as the Interpret team frequently travel between offices. Interns have worked on a wide variety of projects during their time at Interpret, here's what they have to say about their time at Interpret:
Intern life at the Interpret Auckland office - Josh Bilkey
On my first interview with Chris Morris and Natalie Scott, one of things they said was “You’re here to learn, not to make coffee.” This point of view has been reinforced throughout my time at Interpret. I have had the opportunity to participate in FME software training, explored the entire Esri software suite, created multiple web maps and applications as well as work on programming-related tasks. This varied day-to-day and has greatly improved my knowledge of the industry. I look forward to applying these new skills in my future geospatial career.
My internship in the Interpret Christchurch office - Malcolm’s Gollan
I come from a different perspective to Josh, having worked as a geologist for approximately 9 years, where I used GIS and mining CAD almost on a daily basis. Having made a decision to return to New Zealand from Australia, I decided to change career paths and focus on GIS. Working in a consultancy specialising in GIS has been quite a different perspective, with most work being heavily focused on web-based solutions, where previously I worked almost solely with desktop GIS for cartography.
In my opinion, advantages of my experience with Interpret is exposure to a more varied range of jobs and solutions that you may not be exposed to in other workplaces. The larger team mean there is a wide range of experience to draw upon. Although I did not have a chance to experience the wide variety of technology demos personally, it shows how the sharing of experience and skills within the organisation is important and I would recommend making it to these if you have a chance to work here. I’d like to thank the Interpret team for the opportunity to gain some experience there and in particular to Stacy Rendall for mentoring and sharing his experience with me.
Whilst the two of us interns may not see each other in person during a work day, Interpret has made a big effort to ensure both offices work collaboratively. The internship program has been an invaluable learning tool and we look forward to applying the knowledge we have acquired in future roles within the GIS community. We would encourage anyone thinking of starting a career within the geospatial industry to consider applying for an intern role. For students looking into starting the MGIS in the upcoming years, we can both attest Interpret has provided a workplace which not only accommodates students but aims to increase their skills and knowledge of the industry.
Blog written by Chris Morris, Group Manager at Interpret Geospatial Solutions
In my role as Interpret Group Manager, I see alot of Curriculum Vitae’s (CV's) from a wide range of applicants. CV’s play an important role for any application but are particularly important for graduates because many have limited work experience so it can be harder to produce a well-rounded CV.
Here are my top 10 tips for creating a quality graduate CV:
1. Do your research
Before you submit your CV and covering letter, do your research on the company you are applying to. Websites are a great source of information so check their website for the company’s values and mission statement. Think about those values and their mission and consider what you have done that may reflect those values, and try to reflect them in your CV and covering letter.
2. Tailor your CV
You shouldn’t have a CV, rather you should have a document with base content that forms the basis of a tailored CV for each application. Whilst this might sound like a lot of hassle, tailoring your CV makes a huge difference to your application and increases your chances of getting an interview. What does tailoring mean? Simply consider how you present yourself and your skills in a way that is applicable to that job, changing the wording slightly to reflect the employer’s values. If your research identifies certain things about a company e.g. a cool culture, active staff etc, try and reflect something along these lines about yourself in your cover letter. Don’t go overboard though – it needs to be pitched just right.
3. Make the most of what you’ve got
As a graduate you can’t be expected to have an extensive work history. You may not even have worked in the GIS industry before, so what should you do? Well make the most of what you have. Maybe you have a job at a supermarket or home store or fast food outlet. Think about how could that job illustrate a capability that your prospective employer might be interested in. Perhaps it demonstrates your ability to communicate with customers. Maybe it shows a dedication to quality or professionalism. Whatever your job, you should be able to tailor it to the requirements or values of the employer.
4. Personal profile
Create yourself a personal profile, four or five lines of text that sum you up and quickly tells the employer about you. You might be applying for a job with 30 or 40 other applicants so you want to give the person reading your CV a reason to look at your CV in more detail. Capture their interest and make them want to read on.
Make your CV easy to read and use headings that are easy to understand and find. Employers will be interested in your education and work experience so make these sections obvious. You may also include a section on your personal contact details and skill set or awards. When it comes to work experience, make sure you include a couple of lines which explain what a particular company does. We all know about supermarkets, but if you have work experience with a smaller company let your employer know what they do as additional context.
The look and feel of your CV is also important. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes and the grammar and punctuation is correct. An employer will judge you poorly if you can’t even get your CV right, it suggests you have poor attention to detail. Keep it simple and easy to read, no fancy fonts and keep font size changes to a minimum. If you can, let it reflect a bit of your personality, or perhaps tailor it to reflect the style of the employer’s website, matching colours and look and feel. Don’t go overboard, just enough for the employer to notice that you have made an effort. Don’t include a photo – what you look like has no relevance to your application and you only run the risk of including an inappropriate photo.
Let an employer judge what kind of person you are. Telling them that you have a good sense of humour or you are honest and reliable without examples of these traits mean very little. They are traits after all that we might all say about ourselves or wish we have. Instead concentrate on how you might display or talk about these attributes in an interview. Equally think about how you describe your hobbies and extracurricular activities. Socialising with friends is not a hobby, reading is a past-time, and whilst playing video games is fun it’s not going to increase your employment prospects so keep those things to yourself. Instead focus on things that the employer will find interesting - maybe you are a member of a group, the Emerging Spatial Professionals or maybe some other voluntary organisation, fill your CV up with those details.
You may not have had any GIS experience other than your university modules so have a look at some online training and demonstrate that you are more than simply your Degree. Employees are looking for something that sets you apart from others so demonstrate you are a go-getter. If you are applying for a role with an Esri-based employer then have a go with ArcGIS Online at the very least. We are moving more and more towards a web-based environment so experience in this technology or others like it is important.
If you are a graduate, an employer is interested in your degree and NCEA results. We don’t need to know which primary school you attended so you can leave that off your CV. Indeed, leave anything off your CV that isn’t really that relevant. If you won awards at school or university or were a member of a group or team then include that information as it shows you have a well-rounded personality. If you have undertaken voluntary work then definitely include that on your CV as your employer will be interested in what you have done.
10. Social Media
You supply an employer your CV, but we live in a social media world so don’t be surprised if your employer checks out your social media profile - it could be Facebook but it’s more likely to be LinkedIn. You may therefore like to consider the privacy of your Facebook profile. With LinkedIn, start to build up your profile. Make connections within the industry, but don’t just blitz everyone. Be a little targeted and don’t just use the standard invite, add a little note saying why you are making contact.
Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret Geospatial Solutions
Every year, staff from Abley and Interpret have the opportunity to head away for a fun-filled weekend together. This varies in location from Tekapo to Hanmer Springs to Boyle River, but the aim is always the same – to have some memorable adventures with great people, and to build relationships between the staff. This has become even more important as the company has grown, with staff spread across two brands and two offices. It’s critical to take the chance to strengthen connections between the different parts of the company.
This year, the weekend away took us to Castle Hill in Canterbury. Despite a rainstorm on the Friday night, Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and everyone made the most of the awesome weather. Some chose to hit the slopes at Porter Heights skifield, enjoying blue skies and perfect skiing conditions. Others went for a long hike in the nearby Craigieburn forest park, enjoying the panoramic views from the top of Helicopter Hill.
As an Auckland-based Interpretonian, it was a fantastic chance to catch up with my Christchurch colleagues, as well as exploring the beautiful countryside near Castle Hill. It also reinforced the importance of our ‘Connected’ value in building relationships between our staff, brands and offices.
Blog written by Ella Mroczek, Graduate GIS Consultant at Interpret
This year I was fortunate enough to attend the Canterbury Tech Summit, which was held at the Wigram Air Force Museum on Thursday 14 September. The summit is an annual event held in Christchurch, where the people from the tech industry meets for a day to share ideas, network, and engage with each other. I want to share five thoughts that I had from the day:
In my opinion, the most popular booth at the summit was Cryptopia. With a tagline stating that they had ‘$20,000 worth of digital currency to give away’, punters were lining up all day. I am now the proud owner of 0.001 bitcoins (about $5 NZD, so I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon!).
Andy Cunningham, founder of Cunningham Collective, marketing consulting firm based in Silicon Valley (USA), was a key note speaker at the Summit. You could say her job is to discover ‘The Next Big Thing’. In my bloginion, if you want to be the next Steve Jobs or tech guru, Machine Learning is not a bad place to start. Kick off with tensorFlow or by taking a Machine Learning course.
Blockchain; This. Is. The. Future. Imagine a ledger containing medical records for every New Zealander, one that is not only complete but verifiable, secure and that does not rely on a centralised system for transactions. In other words, there's no “middleman”. As Stephen Macaskill (CEO of Dasset) touched upon in his presentation, the rise of virtual currencies that are underpinned by blockchain technology could feasibly supersede services provided by companies, such as Uber, that make money by facilitating a currency exchange.
A major theme at this Summit was Artificial Intelligence. So, what is AI? As Erich Prem (CEO, eutema) noted during a panel discussion, as soon as AI solves a problem, it stops being AI. For example, the first time a computer beat a human at Chess was in 1996, now Chess programs are ubiquitous and the programming responsible for winning against a human is not perceived as comparative to actual human thought, but is seen for what it is, purely a set of algorithms. Phew! I say skip the brain gym and focus on not how something is done but instead what it achieves. In my books, any computer that beats a human at their own game is doing well.
Lastly, as a GIS professional it was encouraging to see GIS popping up all over the conference. GIS and tech are one and the same, just think Google Maps, Augmented Reality and 3D. I can only foresee a continued presence of GIS at tech conferences like the Canterbury Summit and, coupled with this, a growing recognition that GIS is part of the tech world.
The theme for the summit this year was “Grow” and my overwhelming impression of the day was that the tech industry is not only growing, but thriving. The calibre of speakers, with those from abroad sharing their ideas alongside equally talented local techprenuers, was high. Thumbs-up and thank you to the organisers, you did a great job bringing so many smart techies together.
Blog written by Robert Poynter, Graduate GIS Consultant at Interpret
Augmented reality is the next big step for location intelligence. Just as basemaps helped define and communicate spatial data on a 2D plane, augmented reality does the same with the world around you. We’re no longer limited to looking down - we can look forward, under, above and through. This is a fast-moving and competitive industry on the edge of a major boom, and we’re excited to be a part of it!
I’ve been trialing a new app called Argis®Lens from a small Colorado start-up, Argis Solutions LLC, to explore and visualise Christchurch’s storm water system. While polygons and lines don’t always look too exciting on a screen, the experience of being inside the layer is more entertaining. Using a feature service on a dev server, I’m able to add layers to my scenes on an iPad and then walk around in them. The interface is simple and intuitive, offering the user a variety of options and inputs – camera height, visibility distance, a grid for referencing, and the ability to navigate across the entire map from an office chair if the weather’s rough.
While augmented reality has previously been associated with expensive car dashboards and geeky glasses, it’s about to become far more common. It might be in your pocket soon. Apple released iOS 11 on September 19th, and with it ARKit, an API which lets you architect your own augmented reality apps, using the camera and motion sensors. Tim Cook recently said that AR has “broad mainstream applicability across education, entertainment interactive gaming, enterprise, and categories we probably haven’t even thought of.” Google too is jumping on the AR train, with its very own ARCore, built for Android devices. Microsoft is bringing out the HoloLens suite, featuring mixed reality ‘smartglasses’, targeted at the developer market. The competition is on!
However, despite the hype and hoolah surrounding these new upcoming apps, the software I’m trialing at Interpret offers more practical solutions to the geospatial industry. Firstly, it reveals what is hidden behind a surface, rather than just projecting onto it. Secondly, the surface doesn’t have to be flat. Roads (particularly in Christchurch), building sites, paddocks, and parks rarely are. That’s where Argis® Lens has the edge. Apple’s apps are design-driven, ArGIS’s Lens is data-driven. They are occupying very different places in the market at the moment, but imagine the potential when the design and choice of ARKit is coupled with the practical grunt of GIS.
I’ve had a heap of fun trialing this software. The best days at work are when imagination and practicality meet. And it’s always nice to have some time away from the desk and get out into the field! As I’ve played with augmented reality over the past few weeks, I can see that the opportunities are boundless. School trips to the museum may involve walking through historic reconstructions. Teenagers might fight zombies down their street rather than staying inside getting subterranean levels of vitamin D. There are already examples of AR apps that help you choose which bench top or curtains suit your living room best. One day I imagine shops will advertise in AR space, revealing their best deals to you as you walk down the street.
This is the next big thing in the world of technology, it’s bound to end up in places no one can yet foresee. Where can you see augmented reality going in the future? What ideas or reservations do you have regarding AR? I’d love to hear your thoughts, flick me an email: email@example.com
To find out more information about Argis Solutions and the software I’m trialing, visit their website: http://www.argissolutions.com/
Image above: A Wellpad viewed through the Argis® Lens, courtesy of Argis Solutions
Images below: The view from our Christchurch office, through the Argis®Lens
Blog written by Godfrey Huang, Developer at Interpret
As a developer, I am always on the hunt for technology that can add value to what we do and ensure quality outcomes for our clients.
Selenium testing (automated testing) is a technology that enables developers to test web applications automatically. It allows different types of developers to write tests in popular programming languages, including C#, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby and so on. The tests can then run for most modern web browsers.
There are a variety of benefits to using selenium testing:
Automated testing makes it possible for developers to write test code first, such as TDD (Test-Driven Development). The tester can write code based on requirements, which enables developers to understand requirements easily and always be implemented correctly.
Automated testing can increase the depth and scope of tests to help improve software quality. Indeed, automated testing can look inside applications and see databases, file contents, and internal program states to determine if the product is performing as expected.
Automated testing improves accuracy. Even the most conscientious tester can make mistakes during monotonous manual testing. Automated tests perform the same steps precisely each time they are executed and never forget to record detailed results.
Automated test can be reused and upgraded, if any products are added or upgraded with new features.
I usually implement Selenium testing with NUnit framework. The combination enables testers to sort order of running tests, generate reports easily, run tests in random input value, skip tests and so on. It is very convenient to control testing and improve the quality of products.
If you have any questions or are keen to find out more about Selenium testing, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret
At Interpret, we aim to be a completely values driven organisation. Here's the fifth in a series of five blogs, which explores what our company values mean to me, and how we as a team seek to embody those values in everything we do.
Professional: Doing the right things
We highly value professional behaviour. We think it's important to hold ourselves, our clients and peers to a high standard of professionalism, to ensure everyone gets a good outcome when working together.
So, what does Professionalism mean to us? It means that we engage with our industries, and invest our time and effort into making them better. This may involve serving on professional committees, helping with paper selection for conferences, or volunteering time with schools and universities to share our love of all things GIS. It means that we commit to upholding professional standards of ethics, doing what we say we will do and being held accountable for the results of our actions. It also means we are engaged with the industry and our peers, to stay abreast of change and to understand what that might mean for us.
Being professional also means an ongoing commitment to professional development, which we undertake in a variety of ways. The team at Interpret are strongly encouraged to attend conferences and industry events. We also do our best to share the work we do both internally and externally, by presenting at conferences and in-house "brown bottle" events, writing articles for industry publications and being willing to help others with similar problems.
Aligning with our value of Professionalism sometimes brings challenges. In an industry that moves fast, it’s important to know where our own bounds of competence are. By understanding what being professional means, we always strive to do the right things, and can recognise and fix problems as they arise. This ties in closely to our value of delivering "Quality", where we commit to doing things the right way.
Our commitment to professionalism also means that we are members of a number of different professional organisations. Several Interpret staff are members of SSSI and are working towards attaining GISP-AP status. We are an affiliate member of SIBA, the Spatial Industries Business Association, and all staff belong to the New Zealand Esri Users Group. Our commitment to doing the right thing has helped us achieve our Silver-tier Esri Partner status, and we have recently been certified as New Zealand’s first FME Solution Providers with Safe Software.
Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret
At Interpret, we aim to be a completely values driven organisation. Here's the fourth in a series of five blogs, which explores what our company values mean to me, and how we as a team seek to embody those values in everything we do.
Connected: Doing things together
Business, like life, is all about relationships. It matters who we are and how we treat people. Our 'Connected' value is an important part of Interpret life both internally and externally.
Internally, I am very fortunate to work with so many incredible colleagues. I consider myself privileged to be part of organisation where people and relationships are so highly valued - it makes turning up to work a pleasure rather than a chore.
One of the ways we build a connected team is by organising regular social activities. Our social club is responsible for planning a range of social events throughout the year, such as movie nights, rock climbing, pottery, cooking classes, fun family events, and our annual Christmas and Midwinter company dinners. These events frequently come about as a result of shared interests, providing an opportunity to get to know each other beyond the workplace. As the number of employees has grown, it is events like these that mean that everyone knows everyone else in the company, irrespective of whether they regularly work together. It has also helped us to remember to laugh, relax and truly value our colleagues.
Externally, being connected is a crucial part of our role in the wider industry. They say it's not what you know, but who you know. Don't get me wrong - we certainly know our stuff, but a huge amount of the value that we bring is around the people that we know as well. A critical part of our ongoing professional development is being involved in the professional community. This might involve serving on committees, presenting at conferences and undertaking outreach programs through schools. All of this is centered around building strong networks and maintaining relationships - in a nutshell, being connected.
The final very important element of our "Connected" value is about the relationships we build with our clients. For me, this is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I love getting to know so many interesting people from diverse industries, and having the opportunity to build long-term relationships, based on trust and respect. It's incredibly fulfilling getting to know our clients and their organisations, understanding their challenges then being able to use my GIS know-how to find solutions.
Being connected is incredibly important to us on so many different levels. It underpins what we do and how we behave, internally and externally. If you'd like to connect with us, our door is always open!
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