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Geographic Information Systems Specialist


Mapping, Analysis & Design

Effective Date: July, 2007

USG 11

35 hr/wk

Reports to: Technical Services Manager

General Accountability

The Geographic Information Systems Specialist (GISS) supports both learning and research activities based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) procedures, techniques and tools. The GISS mandate is rooted in Environmental Studies (ES) but reaches right across the campus. The GISS reports directly to the Technical Services Manager, and has very close working relationships with the Cartographer, Informatics Instructional Coordinator (IIS) and Remote Sensing Specialist (RSS) in the unit. The campus-wide aspect of this position requires the GISS to liaise closely with IST and Library staff and provide consulting support to non-ES faculty and students, time permitting. As the recognized expert in GIS, the GISS is expected to update and refine his/her GIS and IT skills on a continual basis.

Nature and Scope

The GISS participates in the development and advancement of GIS and geomatics curricula in ES. The GISS works with course instructors and the IIC to develop tutorials, demonstrations, and lab scripts and datasets that are used in undergraduate GIS courses as appropriate, and prepares and delivers specialized technical lectures. The GISS creates and maintains reusable learning modules that can be used in courses and provides support for researchers preparing research proposals. The GISS serves as a strategic resource for active research projects and provides support for students and faculty across campus on GIS issues.

Challenges faced

deadline pressures and conflicting requests for support from professors, staff, TAs, and students

setting priorities and optimizing support activities for specific duties is necessary

keeping abreast with changes in this rapidly evolving technology

Participation in team activities/committees

participates in regular meetings with MAD staff

meets regularly with course instructors and/or TAs to plan and review course status and issues

participates in longer term curriculum planning meetings related to instructional support

participates in outreach activities that can include technical workshops, seminars, or presentations

Internal/external relationships

Maintains relationships with faculty and staff members both within ES and across the UW community

Provides advice to the map library related to geospatial data acquisition and data processing techniques

Provides advice to IST related to the site licensing of GIS software packages

Provides advice to researchers from across campus related to GIS procedures, data requirements, analysis techniques and other research activities

Assists with outreach activities such as GIS Day, Skills Canada competitions, etc

Liaises with software vendors and GIS users in the private and public sector to keep abreast of evolving technology

Statistical Data

The GISS accomplishes his/her mandate through direct contact with GIS users. During a typical term the GISS provides support for approximately 8 undergraduate and graduate courses. In a typical term up to five (5) course instructors are supported. In addition to the core GIS course support, the GISS is also responsible for maintaining best practices documentation and online services as well as offering office hours to provide GIS support the rest of the student, staff, and faculty. To support the research initiatives of the faculty the GISS is also responsible for providing advice and support research projects that involve researchers from within the faculty (grad students, professors) and beyond (researchers in other faculties and partnering organizations).

The activities of the GISS affect a constituency that includes:

Number of computers supported: 300+

Number of undergraduate users: 1700+

Number of graduate users: 200+

Number of faculty, staff and visiting scholars: 150+

Specific Accountabilities

The GISS duties include (but are not limited to) the following:

Develop and maintain best practices documentation related to the use of GIS in the computing labs

Test new versions of software and work with MAD to ensure that approved software are deployed to servers and computer labs. Troubleshoot software and hardware problems in computer labs.

Respond to GIS software and data requirements questions.

Work with course instructors that are teaching core GIS courses to design and develop GIS lab assignments. This support is also provided to instructors of non-core cores that want to make use of GIS in their course assignments (e.g., transit planning, urban design, field techniques)

Assist and/or supervise teaching assistants in undergraduate GIS courses in collaboration with course instructors

Provide consulting/coaching/demonstrations for upper year undergrad GIS projects

Provide advice to researchers related to GIS methods, data requirements, approaches for course or thesis-based research.

Provide support for research projects in the faculty related to system requirements analysis, design, implementation, and maintenance.

Work with MAD to design and maintain the faculty’s core informatics research infrastructure.

Provide advice to researchers from other faculties on campus related to GIS methods, data requirements, and software techniques.

Liaise with University Map Library staff to help to ensure that geospatial data needs of GIS users are met.

Liaise with industry (e.g.: GIS professionals and software vendors) to keep up with evolving technology.

Assist with the faculty’s outreach activities such as GIS Day, GIS Skills Competitions, etc.

may supervise coop students hired by MAD

Working Conditions

The GISS normally works in an office environment at a computing workstation. For portions of the week, the GISS is available to clients on a first come first served basis. This is a demanding and somewhat hectic environment, requiring multi-tasking skills and meeting the computing needs of clients. Periodically, the job can become quite stressful, especially when deadlines approach. Therefore, it is important to provide accurate and timely support to users. There are deadline pressures, while at the same time there is a demand for thoroughness and accuracy. Additional time is spent in computing labs, assisting students with GIS related questions and hardware assistance.