Higher Education

Industry Voices of Modern GIS: Keep things simple. Keep learning. Empower your users.

These may be obvious axioms, but they are the keys to the successful use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in the short and long term. This is according to Ana Hiraldo-Gomez, CIO-GIS for Westchester County, who works to support nearly one million residents within New York’s metropolitan area.

I recently spoke with Hiraldo-Gomez and asked about her experiences in GIS and the advice she would provide to recent graduates or those looking to get hired in the industry. She mentioned three things that stuck with me: Keep things simple, keep learning, and empower your users.

Keep things simple

Hiraldo-Gomez mentioned that the most popular GIS application that she helps to support is the tax parcel viewer, which provides zoning, land-use, and historical imagery for all of Westchester County. This application is simple, but it’s also what the public needs. It can be easy to over engineer a service or application, but almost all of the time, simple is best.

Keep learning

GIS keeps changing as technology continues to advance. While it can be overwhelming to keep abreast of the changes, evolving technology provides an opportunity to improve how problems get solved. Hiraldo-Gomez mentioned the ability for anyone across the globe to take data they have locally and build ArcGIS StoryMaps applications. There are more opportunities than ever to get involved and help make a difference with GIS—and these applications can be used to help you interact with and build your community.

Empower your users

Another piece of advice that Hiraldo-Gomez mentioned during our conversation revolved around the role of GIS professionals. It should not require a PhD in data science to collect field data or use maps. GIS professionals should have the skills to build mobile and web applications that empower users. GIS professionals are the enablers that translate business needs into viable solutions.

This was just the tip of the iceberg! I had a great time chatting with Hiraldo-Gomez, and I think her advice and experience should resonate strongly with anyone looking for a career in geospatial technology.

To hear more from Hiraldo-Gomez, please watch our recent conversation.


Please also visit our Modern GIS page to learn more about updating your curriculum and courses to reflect the changes in GIS technology.

About the author

Brian currently works as a Senior Solution Engineer supporting Higher Education and has been working in the geospatial industry for more than 13 years. GIS brought Brian to the frozen tundra of Duluth MN as a digitizer, to the Big Island of Hawaii as a GIS Analyst, and the streets of Milwaukee as a Crime Analyst. Brian has taught GIS at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Salem State University. Brian is also a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, father of 2, and husband to 1.


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