Until The Mapping Improves, The Beatings Will Continue.

My most recent and classic arch-nemesis

What if I told you it was possible to both be a water hydrant and not a water hydrant at exactly the same time? would you believe in this magic?

In the world of GIS, not every day can be spent digitizing or some fancy scripts that turns water into wine.

Some days are spent trying to solve exactly why a problem exists in the first place and what’s the solution to that issue?

Today’s current issues

  • How can a Hydrant be real if no one’s ever seen it?
  • if something doesn’t have ten different ID’s isn’t even worth mapping?
  • How can we benefit from these mistakes?
  • Do you have a backup?
  • Does that have a back up?
  • If the Earth was really flat. I’d drive straight off the edge.

Today’s classic quest started early at 8am. A field crew member came into my office with a paper atlas that’s two years old, a spreadsheet that’s three years old and a heart that screams of apathy and exhaustion. I don’t blame them and they can’t find any of these so called hydrants.  It’s only 8am.

All three of the majors systems had different labels to the same hydrants, all of them reviewed by different people, one had retired, the other is on a long term leave, and another was a consultant who’s check was cashed long ago. The data itself sits on three different worlds, A SQL server, A FDGB and a web server.  These databases are not connected. Why would they? have you even been paying attention in school?

Help, It’s real


The very worst of all this? This was all QA/QC’ed six months earlier by myself and fixed. 6,000 records or so painfully checked to get as many errors corrected and systems as close as possible.  There are global ID’s that match the systems up.

So what’s the issues?

No one’s using the updated system and they are crying wolf.

There was no buy in six months ago and the issues are the same.  The maps still used by the field crew are still paper and still years old, those in charge of the data curating are busy filibustering about pay scales and haven’t any interested in moving forward.

My solution? My temporary plan?  Get the buy in by the ones using and trying to find these hydrants.

Turns old fiddling with old paper maps and broken spreadsheets to objects that exist spatially take more time.

I’ve trained both crew members on using the updated “Web GIS” ecosystem. This involved creating simple apps that have built in queries allowing them to find the exact matching asset. It also allows them to search previous iterations of data. Allowing us to spatially reflect on these systems.  They weren’t given a device to access this information and are using their own phones and data plans. They find it so much better they are willing to use these resources.

I just want to make their job as easy as possible. Florida is real hot and I know the struggle. They are the reason I keep battling against the “Things have always been this way” collect the pay check and slave away.

And they greatly enjoy not being tied to a static world that only changes when the print man comes to town.  They understand the importance of having updated information. It allows all of us to go home on time.

Now we wait and lurk, hopefully the value will trickle down to something they can no longer live without.

Waiting a year for changes, a month, a week, a decade and an election are over.

Time’s on my side in the long run.