Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazer: Ross Goodacre

  • Role: Lead GIS Consultant, Esri Ireland

    Bio: Ross joined Esri Ireland, the market leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), in 2019 as a GIS Consultant before being promoted to Lead GIS Consultant in 2021. Ross brings over a decade of experience in the GIS field to the role, which holds a wide variety of challenges and affords Ross the opportunity to utilise many different aspects of Esri’s ArcGIS system.

    Q. What does your typical day look like?

    I work remotely so I start at 8am every day and avoid the morning commute. I rarely have a structured day as my workload can be dynamic depending on what projects I’m working on that day. Usually there will be a stand-up call or two in the morning and then I’ll start digging into some technical work and supporting my colleagues. Once midday hits, I’ll either take the dog for a walk or go to the gym, then I’ll have lunch and come back to work refreshed for the afternoon.

    Q. What are you currently working on?

    I’m currently supporting a customer with implementing a GIS solution that will allow users to capture data remotely via handheld devices. This data will then be synced to an authoritative data source stored in an on-premise Structured Query Language (SQL) database. My work is mainly focused around providing design support and recommendations on the best methods of implementation, while also developing custom Python scripts to aid in the automation of the data transfer.

    Q. What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    Working with other GIS companies previously, whenever there was a requirement to implement a complex GIS solution, it was always recommended to bring Esri in to support the process as they are the best at what they do. Esri Ireland are highly regarded in the GIS business area and to work for them, you can really be on the cutting edge of the technology.

    Q. Did you always want to work in this industry?

    Going back to when I finished school, I never really had my mind set on anything in particular. I wanted to be either an electrician or a plumber, but I also applied for an apprenticeship with BAE Systems which never materialised. I finally ended up studying computer science at Sheffield Hallam University where GIS was quite heavily featured. This sparked my interest, and the rest is history.

    Q. What’s your favourite part about your work?

    My favourite part of the job is when I get tasked with designing Python scripts to automate complex workflows. It is extremely rewarding to spend time designing a logical approach to a Python workflow, and then implementing it to see a task that would take hours to do manually, completed in minutes.

    Q. What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry?

    I would strongly recommend a career in GIS. Whilst it may be quite a niche technology, it is becoming more and more mainstream with plenty of opportunities. Within GIS, there are many different avenues to pursue and specialise in, so there is sure to be something that really interests someone who is looking to get started in GIS.

    For example, you could work with GIS in marine conservation, emergency response & disaster relief, urban planning, telecommunications, or crime analytics, and in each of those sectors you could focus on web development and automation using the ArcGIS APIs, data management, imagery analysis, spatial analysis, and much more. There are plenty of different sectors and technologies to work with, so there really is something for everyone.

    Q. How do you see this technology impacting our lives?

    Mapping has been used as an aid to the response of humanitarian crises around the world such as floods, earthquakes, and droughts. Local authorities see the importance that this technology brings when responding to these disasters and I believe the volunteers that give their time to provide GIS support in these times have and will save countless lives by supporting first responders and disaster relief organisations.

    Over the past few years, I have supported the Adsum Foundation, a charity based in Belfast, to help them best use GIS technology to map their support projects in Madagascar, so people can see what fantastic aid they provide to those communities.

    Q. Who inspired you to work in this field?

    When I was growing up, my stepfather was into computers and technology, and I would help him build computers and attend after-school technology classes. I also started to delve into the world of Linux at a young age, testing out different distros every other month. I think these things really cemented my interest in technology which led me in the direction of GIS.

    Q. What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    I think the expansion of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) is really important. It extends current technologies to a wider audience who may not be in an economic position to subscribe to the market-leading technologies. Instead, they can make use of FOSS alternatives that can impact their lives in a positive manner.

    This is also important because as technology evolves and integrates with our lives more seamlessly, we can sometimes sacrifice our privacy for these comforts. FOSS allows you to take more ownership of your technology & data.

    Q. What tech gadget could you not live without?

    If we’re being honest, it will always be a mobile phone but if it was to be the 2nd tech gadget I couldn’t live without, it would be my kitchen scales, as ridiculous as it sounds. I spend a lot of time in the gym and following my nutrition, so I weigh everything I eat down to the gram!

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