Tina Ross works as a Geographic Systems and Data Co-ordinator within our Geographic Information Group. She is based at the Inverness office, and has been working for SNH for nearly three years. Tina tells us about her experience as a young person working in the GIS field since leaving university.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are digital tools which allow us to collect, visualise and analyse data spatially. I specialise in map-making and data collection using a variety of GIS tools. My work often changes depending on the time of year but my most common tasks involve creating maps showing species, habitats, or designations. At SNH we are also branching out into different types of mapping such as interactive web mapping and illustrative mapping, which allows us to provide a better range of services to meet changing needs.
I stumbled upon GIS in university and I was lucky to have a tutor who was very enthusiastic about the subject. There are a lot of young people who are unaware of GIS let alone that it is a growing industry and a career possibility. In a bid to change that last year I registered both as a STEM Ambassador and an Esri GeoMentor; both these programs allow me the opportunity to connect with teachers in schools who need GIS support.
GIS is currently being used across a wide range of industries and is growing every day: getting young people involved in GIS gives them an understanding of how it can be used and provides practical skills which can help them throughout their careers. Over the past few years I have been back to my university to speak about careers in GIS. I really enjoy explaining the many ways in which GIS is already part of most of our lives: from your GPS in your car to the locational tags on social media posts, to using search engines to find the nearest supermarket.
This is a very exciting time for people working in GIS as technology is changing so rapidly. There is a big push in the industry for data to become more open and it’s really exciting to see this being adopted by big organisations. This is becoming a lot easier as data is getting cheaper to collect with the use of drones and in-field data gathering tools. There is also a lot of movement of data to Cloud storage, and interactive mapping is becoming more common across a wide variety of sectors. This kind of development is excellent progress for the environmental sector as it is making GIS more accessible, cheaper and easier to use. At SNH, we are aiming to stay at the forefront of this kind of development to help us in our desire connect people with Scotland’s nature.
Have a look at our Habitat Map of Scotland here.
You can learn more about mapping, Geographic Information Systems and spatial data by following the dedicated Geographic Information Group Twitter .