posted: October 25, 2012 | author: Layton Hobbs
There was a time in our industry when mapping companies had separate CAD departments (that’s Computer-Aided Drafting for you Millennials). The software was so unique and complicated that it basically required its own corporate management structure. Along came GIS, and another group of niche specialists were separated out and anointed department status, at least for a while. But look around now at geospatial services companies and you usually won’t find a CAD or GIS department; they’ve been assimilated. Their skills are now an integrated part of our daily work. It’s basically assumed that if you are in the business of creating terrain, imagery or feature content you are pretty good with CAD and GIS.
These days there’s a new department in many mapping companies, the folks responsible for software and applications development. This department is easily recognized. Just down the hall from the darkly lit stereo-compilation area, around the corner from the avgas-scented, flight crew office is a different and strange world where headphones, Mountain Dew, Gandalf bobble heads and flextime are the norm. Ok, so maybe that’s a little cliché, but there is definitely a new breed of specialists entering the geospatial marketplace. And just like CAD and GIS they are here to stay and will soon be a fully integrated part of our daily work (my apologies to the department supervisors).
Why are they here? For the same reason we embraced CAD and GIS—our deliverables are changing. Our clients can’t keep up with the overwhelming amount of information we can create. No longer are they measuring value by the number of DVDs or hard drives they get at the end of their projects. Our clients are decision makers, and they want to make decisions, not manage data. They want geospatial information in their hands quickly, and in an uncomplicated way. But perhaps most importantly they want intelligent data, not a bunch of mouse clicks and progress bars. Luckily, we have the internet and this newfangled developer department to help us make that happen (assimilation pending).