Viewing entries posted in September 2017

Abley/Interpret Weekend Away

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Posted by on 26 September 2017

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.  

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My experience at the Canterbury Tech Summit

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Posted by on 21 September 2017

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:

  1.  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!).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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The new reality – AR you ready?

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Posted by on 20 September 2017

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. 

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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:

To find out more information about Argis Solutions and the software I’m trialing, visit their website:  

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 

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Tech demo: Let's explore Selenium Testing


Posted by on 19 September 2017

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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:

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Posted by on 18 September 2017

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. 

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Posted by on 13 September 2017

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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Living our Company Values: Passion

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Posted by on 7 September 2017

Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret

At Interpret, we aim to be a completely values driven organisation. Here's the third 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.

Passion: Doing things we love

A few years ago, we had four values, not five. Passion was added to our core values because we all agreed that something had been missing – conversations focused on our commitment to quality, relationships, innovation and professionalism didn’t encompass the enthusiasm that the team brings to work each day.

Passion is my personal favourite out of our five company values. For me, it's our point of difference and it's what makes Interpret such a great place to work. Everyone at Interpret is madly passionate about the work that we do - writing code, churning data, making maps, or sharing their GIS knowledge with the team through training sessions. Even our admin support staff are incredibly passionate about Excel, Word templates, PowerBI and generally doing stuff smarter. Everywhere you look, people truly care about what they are doing.

This attitude has led to a team that is incredibly driven. Staff engage with their geospatial interests both at work and at home. During weekends and evenings, you'll often find our people building Raspberry Pi, flying drones, hosting a GIS podcast or undertaking spatial analysis of bee populations. This passion for all things spatial is part of the team’s underlying engagement in the world of geospatial technologies, and is something that carries through into our work with clients.

But beyond all of this, it’s really fun to work in a team that is passionate about what they do. When people care about their work, and are invested in the results, an energy and synergy builds that is more than the sum of its parts.

Our passion for our work ties in to all of our other values. It's passion that drives a desire to innovate and do things better, and it's passion that ensures quality as we commit to doing things right. Being passionate about what we do makes it easy to build relationships and connect with other geospatial professionals around New Zealand and globally.

It’s common saying to ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’. While I think that this is an oversimplification, it’s certainly true that working with a passionate team, in an industry we truly care about, makes work a lot more enjoyable.

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Fake it til you make it!

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Posted by on 5 September 2017

Blog written by Ella Mroczek, Graduate GIS Consultant at Interpret

You’ve hired a geospatial graduate, now what?

As an emerging geospatial professional, the buzz talk in my world currently surrounds the in's and out's of beginning a career in the geospatial industry. There is alot of emphasis on getting "a foot in the door", but what about senior leaders within an organisation who are responsible for developing emerging caterpillars into fully fledged GIS professionals?

From the perspective of an emerging professional, graduate and former intern, here are five things that made a real difference to me when starting out:

  1. We have all heard the term "fake it till you make it" and the older I get, the more I realise the wisdom of this statement. As a graduate in a new job, the ratio of ‘faking it’ to ‘actually knowing what’s going on’ is entirely tipped one way (guess which). So, as a manager, encourage your graduate or intern to help themselves. Every organisation will have help guides and info documents, point them in the right direction or to useful websites. Your graduate will already know the adage ‘no question is a stupid question’ but they have also been at uni for a few years, so they know how to find out things on their own. 

  2. Every manager I have had, without fail, will apologise several times before, during and after giving me a boring or repetitive task. However, don’t be afraid to hand out the boring jobs! Everyone in this industry has been there, it will give your graduate something to commiserate over with the rest of the team at the water cooler. Also, it should be noted that digitising and other potentially boring work, is vital to GIS. Learning best practice and the realities of these processes will make your graduate a better GIS professional in the future.

  3. Your graduate will likely be in a state of awe because they have suddenly found themselves with a ‘real’ job. I say, make the most of it! Share with them any work you are doing or completed projects that are especially awesome, work through the methodology and show them some maps to go along with it, don’t be surprised if they print some off to take home to study… (or was that just me?!)

  4. Perhaps even more pertinent than my previous point, is to recognise what your graduate or intern has to offer. In many cases, those new to the GIS industry aren’t fresh off the block and have a broad range of knowledge from which they can contribute. However, if your graduate is new to the working world, look for opportunities to introduce them to the business side of the industry, as well as the technical side.

  5. And finally, talk the real deal. The industry is fast moving and often overwhelming. To someone just starting out, becoming an established professional is probably an intimidating prospect. Try to be open about your experiences, trials, and success stories. As soon as your graduate finds out you are also human, they will probably feel alot more confident. 

During my time at Interpret, I have been fortunate to work with team leaders and managers that have gone above and beyond their role as a ‘boss’...I see them as my mentors and I appreciate all the advice and help they have given me so far.

Finally, I want to applaud all the great leaders in this profession that make a huge difference to the newcomers – most of you probably don’t even realise you are doing it!

If you have any thoughts on this subject I would be interested to hear them! You can email me at


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Posted by on 4 September 2017

Blog written by Natalie Scott, Senior Consultant at Interpret

At Interpret, we aim to be a completely values driven organisation. Here's the second 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.

Innovation: Doing things better

Innovation is a word that gets thrown around alot these days. It seems like everyone is keen to try doing things differently – and that’s great. In an industry that moves as fast as ours, it’s critical to keep changing. But I think innovation is different from simply doing the same things in a different way – it’s about doing things better.

So what does innovation mean for us? At Interpret, innovation is the insatiable desire to push the boundaries of what technology can do. It’s the drive to try new things, or old things with new knowledge, and to see if they can be improved upon. It’s a refusal to accept that yesterday’s ‘good enough’ should be the default standard.

We try to foster innovation in all areas of our business, including in discussions on how we should ‘do’ innovation. This means that we listen to the ideas that bubble up, and help our people to turn the best ideas into reality. We learn from our mistakes. Unsuccessful attempts of innovation can be just as important as the successful ones, as long as we are always learning about how we could do it better next time. And we temper our ideas with the reality of business. This means that we make sure innovation is undertaken in appropriate contexts to give the best outcome for our clients and our organisation.

Enabling innovation is a combination of having smart, curious people, and providing an environment that is open to "incubating" ideas, to find out if there is a real business opportunity to move forward with. Successful innovation involves guiding ideas from ‘innovation for innovation’s sake’ to a finished product or solution that can be used to help people and organisations.

It's this attitude that has resulted in award-winning work. When faced with a problem, Interpret’s people really enjoy finding ways through, over, under or around the obstacles. This leads to a process of continuous improvement, with ongoing small tweaks to take advantage of technological change and new knowledge.

As part of doing innovation better, we’re always keen to hear from others in our industry, in terms of innovation, what has worked and what doesn’t? We’d love to hear your thoughts...

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