Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret
At Interpret, we aim to be a completely values driven organisation. Here's the first 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.
Quality: Doing things right
We love what we do, and believe it’s important to do things right. It’s this that underpins our value of "Quality". We seek to make sure that all of the work we do is of the highest quality. It's a team effort, relying on commitment from everyone across the organisation to bring their "A" game. This might involve peer reviewing technical work, maintaining accurate and up-to-date documentation, or simply being open to discussing the projects we’re working on.
Part of this is about not being afraid to ask for help or clarification if we need it. It’s important that uncertainty is treated as a learning opportunity and is a chance to ensure quality work is the end result, rather than a problem or failing. We treat all projects – both those that went well, and the odd one that didn’t – as case studies for improving our work in the future.
As part of our commitment to delivering quality work, many of Interpret’s staff have achieved technical certifications. This includes Esri Desktop and Developer certifications, FME certified professional status and project management certifications. Of course, fancy certificates don’t necessarily translate into quality outcomes. But we believe that by inspiring our staff to achieve these certifications, we are developing the skills which underpin our commitment to quality and technical excellence.
The quality of our work is recognised in many ways, both large and small. We’re proud to see our clients and work recognised at events like the ACENZ (Association of Consulting Engineers NZ) awards, NZ Spatial Excellence Awards and IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers NZ) conferences. Our work is also frequently recognised outside of New Zealand, at conferences and industry events in Australia and the United States.
But perhaps the most satisfying element of our work is when we get feedback from our clients saying that we’ve helped them solve a problem, work smarter or faster or added value to their business. While we strive for technical excellence in all that we do, we can’t forget that the work needs to be applied in a real-world context, to solve real-world problems. Quality is key at all stages of the process.
Blog by Steve Ford
Last week I attended my first New Zealand Esri User Conference (NZEUC), one of the largest gatherings of spatial professionals in Australasia. It was a surreal feeing being surrounded by almost 600 spatial professionals, a large chunk of what I perceive to be a relatively small community in New Zealand. This year Interpret had a strong presence at the conference, with seven attendees, six presentations and mentions in many others.
Walking around the expo area, I was impressed with the number of young people in attendance, made up of both emerging professionals and students. I noticed that the excitement factor was much higher in these groups compared to others, possibly due to the level of innovation and new technology on display that they may not have seen on the same level before. In general, however, the expo area seemed like a bit of a lolly scramble of competitions and giveaways to attract the attention of a crowd more interested in networking and ‘talking business’ (I guess all that information is online these days anyway).
I found the plenary sessions really interesting, with a great selection of guest speakers. One of them, Martin O’Malley (previous Governor of Maryland, Mayor of Baltimore and candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 US presidential election), spoke of his experiences of using geospatial analysis in the realm of government, benefitting an area that had particular struggles in crime, segregation and poverty. His speech was immensely inspiring and created a buzz around the conference.
Simon McMillan of Kaikorai Valley College spoke of his experience in teaching GIS in his school. As a part of its science and technology program, students between the ages of 8 and 10 perform data collection and use ArcGIS Online to run analysis on their onsite urban. It was great to see that in a few short years, GIS as a subject has changed from being introduced to a select group of students in their university studies, to young kids in the early stages of their education. This is a great outcome of Esri and Eagle Technology’s drive to increase the profile of GIS and ‘the Science of Where’ to younger people.
One of the highlights of the conference was the industry renowned conference dress up dinner. Jeremy Corbett was the MC of the night and provided the laughs as we sipped on our special NZEUC branded beer from Tuatara Breweries. The costumes were absolutely fantastic, clearly many hours of planning, creating and beard growing were involved showing great commitment by some at the event.
Overall the conference was really enjoyable for me, it was a great opportunity to learn about where the industry is headed and to see some great examples of the day to day innovation that exists in our Geospatial community.
On Sunday 20 August, around thirty staff and their families enjoyed a fun day out together skiing and snowboarding at Mt Hutt.
Despite the average weather, our team braved the wintry conditions and were treated to 10cm of fresh snow, on top of an already impressive 3 metre base.
For many of our team and family members, this was their first opportunity to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time.
Thanks to the social club for organising yet another awesome event, bring on the next ski day!
Hi I’m Clover, Interpret/Abley’s latest recruit in the Auckland office.
I put my paw up to give you a dog’s eye view of what it's like to work here. I’m a very cute 7 year old Spoodle. My Dad (Colin MacArthur) brought me into the office about 3 months ago after the dog walker called in sick.
It was a great experience and I got to meet the rest of the team who are fortunately all dog lovers (I think Chris has a cat, but I’m not Felinist). I don’t want to wag my own tail, but I like to think I offered a bit of calmness to the office on that day, and the team must have agreed, as I was soon employed on a part-time basis as a "Stress Relief Consultant".
My basic responsibility is to go from desk to desk with my big brown eyes and look expectantly at each individual, raise my paw, turn my head slightly as if I have just heard a noise for the first time and can’t work out what it is, and if necessary give a little whine or woof. I encourage them to stroke me (I get my fur washed especially the night before so my fur is at its luxuriant best) as this has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. Things can get pretty busy in the office and the team can get a little hot under the collar, something I have a lot of experience with.
I think I am doing a good job because in my recent 630 day review (90 in human days) I got lots of positive comments from the team “Who’s a good girl Clover”, and “You are so cute Clover” and “Your coat is so soft Clover” and so on. I feel proud of the work I do because it has such positive results.
It’s not all dog treats however and occasionally I get asked to "sit", "lie down", or "roll over". Recently I was given the opportunity to go on a “Shake Hands” course at the local kennel which was great. I love learning new skills that I can apply at the office.
I also encourage the team to exercise and take them out on regular walkies which gets the heart rate up and gets them out of the office which is a good thing...you know what these IT people are like?! They barely move from their desk without encouragement which can be pretty ruff on the body.
The remuneration package is pretty good, I get doggy treats throughout the day with a Pedigree Chum saver scheme. I also get a monthly bone-us which is worth wagging your tail for.
If you don’t believe what a positive effect I have on the office then just read this article which proves my point.
Well I can’t sit here all day, I have humans to de-stress.
Blog by Steve Ford, Graduate Consultant at Interpret
Recently I was in a team competing in the GovHack Open Data Hackathon, joined by Andrew Douglas-Clifford (The Map Kiwi) and Hamish Kingsbury (Interpret). This was my first appearance at an event like this, which bought together developers, storytellers and other people with a diverse range of skills to work on projects that make use of open Government datasets.
There was a strong spatial element in the projects that were produced this year, with HERE Maps taking the principle sponsor role. This was an advantageous occurrence for us, with many other teams consisting of only software developers.
Our concept development was a web application that allowed users to find nearby rivers, lakes and beaches of a swimmable grade. This used Ecan water testing data from locations around Canterbury and the HERE Maps API for routing from user locations to their potential destinations using FME. A swim-ability index based on the grade and distance to water features was created and the top three water bodies returned to the user.
Daunting would be one word to describe the lead up to the weekend for me, I was headed for an intense weekend of planning, strategizing, learning, data manipulation, development (that at times would seem way over my head) and presenting. There was also the prospect of cramming 30 hours of development into only a couple of days and the subsequent lack of sleep.
It turned out to be hugely rewarding. The team overcame the challenges of time, tiredness and having endless development possibilities from open datasets to create a well-oiled, functional and visually attractive app (considering the time constraints).
The prizes weren’t half bad either, with UE Booms and Samsung galaxy smartphones seemingly being distributed around the room at the conclusion of the event (and they were only the spot prizes!).
Definitely worth penciling in the dates for next year!
Interpret is proud to be appointed an FME Solution Provider for Safe Software's Partner Programme.
Partner status is a significant endorsement of our capability and commitment to FME and the strengthening of the partnership between our two organisations. The partnership means we will be provided demonstration licences for proof of concepts, prototypes, evaluations, and internal learning. It also means FME training, technical and pre-sales software support, and access to exclusive partner resources such as webinars and bulletins, so our team are always up-to-date with the latest developments.
We are excited about our future in FME, and working with organisations to help them realise the value of their data. Interpret currently have two certified FME professionals (Todd Davis and Alex Oulton), while several other team members are gaining experience in FME on various projects and secondments.
Welcome back to Stacy Rendall, who has returned to work with our Abley and Interpret teams as a Principal Spatial Researcher.
We’ve had a relationship with Stacy since 2010, when he was completing his PhD at the University of Canterbury. His thesis combined Accessibility, Activity Modelling and Energy Systems to quantify the transport energy resilience of urban areas. Stacy worked for Abley after completion of his thesis until early 2015, when he left with his partner to travel overseas.
Stacy spent two years in Scotland working for a range of organisations including The Highland Council, Derek Halden Consultancy and Route Monkey. Clients he worked for included the UK Department for Transport, Shell, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Bristol City Council. While in Scotland his work combined transportation, web and API development, with specific projects focusing on safety, school travel, optimisation algorithms (electric vehicle charging, underground power line routing), and mobility surveys.
Stacy particularly enjoys the variety of interesting projects, great office vibe and social atmosphere at Abley/Interpret, and is loving the new office on Victoria Street!
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