Where are we? Exploring the possibilities ahead

As a growing GIS enthusiast with FortisAlberta, I was thrilled when offered the opportunity to attend the Hexagon’s HxGN LIVE conference here in Las Vegas. I knew it would be a great opportunity to network with my colleagues from around the world in the GSIG Membership, as well as explore the developing technologies and real-world applications of other organisations. My goal was to examine every idea presented and think about how they could apply to the electrical distribution industry.

At the opening keynote with Ola Rollén on Monday evening, I was truly touched by the guest speaker Doug Menuez. Mapping has become a true art form in my opinion and Doug’s photography, documenting the humanity behind the technological developments in the Silicon Valley in the 80’s was beautiful and thought-provoking. The technology supporting GIS all started with one person asking “What if?” or “Could we?” while wondering what possibilities could lay ahead. It is this creativity that speaks to me and ignites my passion to continue learning more.

The map we create is a product of wonder for how we can better understand our customers and our business. Handing over a spreadsheet filled with numbers and calculations, and the effort then involved with explaining its meaning can be time consuming. It relies very heavily on our ability to communicate our understanding and evaluation of the data. When we place a map in front of someone, however, we see understanding light up their eyes very quickly. It shows the true power of communication when we present information in a way that we all seem to connect with.

I think we all connect with the thought of wanting to know where we are; where are we with our customers? Where are we with a particular project? Where are we with our investments? I believe that the question of “where?” is what makes our data come to life in the mind of others. The ability to mentally position yourself on the globe is a concrete concept that creates a bridge of understanding and communication between two people very quickly. When we start our conversations with others and everyone involved literally knows where we are, we have something in common before the true purpose of the conversation has even begun.

The power of a map is ever-evolving and with new technologies continuously being developed we harness the knowledge of where our business is so that we can create a plan for where we want to be. Thank you to everyone involved with the event and to my colleagues for welcoming me to the discussion as I continue to develop as a GIS professional.


Jolyn O’Dell
AMFM Business Analyst, FortisAlberta

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Jolyn O’Dell works for FortisAlberta in Automated Mapping and Facilities Management (AMFM) and has served the organization for 13 years. As the business analyst, Jolyn is responsible for capitalising on FortisAlberta’s GIS by finding effective solutions that create meaningful information and enhance customer service. Jolyn holds a Business Diploma in Management Studies from Grant MacEwan University as well as GIS and GeoMedia Professional Specialty Certificates from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Jolyn is grateful for the love and support of her husband Cameron and five-year old daughter Alexis who actively support her growing passion for the world of GIS and the possibilities that it holds to create a better today and tomorrow for humankind and the planet.

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