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5 New Year's Resolutions for the GIS User

5 New Year's Resolutions for the GIS User

After ushering out 2017 with a bang, we have been welcoming 2018 with open arms. It is a new year to try new things or, at the very least, to get a couple of the "old things" right. With a new beginning, resolutions are sure to follow. Fortunately for us in the GIS world, these promises to our future selves do not have to solely consist of more time in the gym.

While you are busy taking a look back at all you and your business have accomplished over the last year and look ahead to all that you would like to add to your resume over the coming months, below are a few suggestions we are excited to embrace ourselves.

1. LEARN SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

If you have a habit of turning to the same workflows, software, etc. over and over again, 2018 is the time to challenge yourself to explore a wider range of mapping and geospatial resources. Depending on your current exposure and your goals for the year ahead, this could come in the shape of any number of things.

Are you a slave to Esri's ArcMap for geospatial needs? Test the waters slightly outside of that comfort zone with newer platforms like ArcGIS Pro or even ArcGIS Online. Both include more robust spatial visualization interfaces with one bringing it all to the web.

Want to learn how to customize - or even build - your own apps? Take a programming class or two. Free resources like Code Academy allow you to do this easily enough while many universities and online education hubs provide self-paced training from the comfort of your desk. Not sure what language to begin with? Python and JavaScript are safe bets for the dev n00b and beyond.

2. GET A HANDLE ON YOUR SPATIAL DATA

While many of us shout "New Year, New Me" post-fireworks, why don't more of us proclaim "New Year, New Data Infrastructure"? Chiming in on 2018 is as good a time as any to get a proper handle on what resources you do and do not have at your disposal. For the GIS user and team, the most important resource is spatial data.

We have noticed a trend lately of companies truly assessing the quantity and quality of the spatial data files on their network, and we wholeheartedly support this. Simply inventorying your system to get a record of what lives there is a great start. Fixing what is broken is even better. Converting older data formats to more sustainable formats may top even that.

Need a nudge in the right direction for how to get your spatial data to a better state? Check out our tips on Spatial Data Spring Cleaning

3. EMBRACE MORE ADVANCED DATA VISUALIZATION PRACTICES

It has never been enough to just have your data. People want to be able to see it too. Although spatial data belongs on a map, much more can be done with the maps generated and data itself. Making the most of your data - not just getting a handle on it - is a great resolution to have no matter the year.

If you are primed for the Esri platform, solutions like Insights for ArcGIS offer a way to both analyze and view your data in new ways.

If you are looking to move outside of the ArcGIS platform and bring even more customization and visualization to the table, Tableau is a great card to have in the deck. With robust analytical capabilities and new mapping features, users can even import their own spatial data like shapefiles and KML - or convert feature classes with optimized Add-Ins.

Want to just look at your data without digging much deeper? Plug-ins like ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud or ArcGIS Maps for Office allow you to bring spatial data into everyday applications to show clients, coworkers, or the like.

4. EDUCATE OTHERS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF GIS - GEOMENTOR, MAYBE?

While many industries and organizations are finally realizing the need for geospatial skills, that is a realization that needs to hit where it counts - at the education level. Those who are still in school and trying to decide what careers they wish to pursue need exposure to all there is to offer. One way we as GeoGeeks can help with this is to give back and become a GeoMentor (US) or GIS Ambassador (Canada). By partnering with K-12 institutions or those already in university, we can show both students and their teachers the potential for GIS.

5. NETWORK FOR NEW IDEAS, NOT JUST BUSINESS CONNECTIONS

We all know the importance of networking, especially as it pertains to our own business. It is important to make connections at conferences and meetings to better spread the word on what our company has to offer and how we can be of service to one another. Have you ever networked just for the sake of idea gathering though? If not, perhaps that could be one of your final GIS resolutions for this shiny new year.

The GIS field is ever-evolving, and with it each industry it touches is finding new and better ways to tackle old (and new) issues. In the age of the World Wide Web, we have a front seat to this action and a means to engage those involved. By connecting with colleagues inside and outside of our respective industries at conferences, through LinkedIn, or even on social media platforms like Twitter, we can learn about what organizations are accomplishing - hopefully inspiring our own next big break or even a quick fix.

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