"I live in Denver, Colo., and our local government has a Web portal through which citizens can report things like potholes in the road," McElroy says. "Users visit the portal, input the type of problem they're encountering, the location, and all this information is almost instantly fed into government systems and a work order is created," he says.
McElroy says he used the system to report a pothole, and was pleasantly surprised to see the problem was fixed within 24 hours of his complaint.
"These skills are becoming increasingly important in a wide variety of industries and in government," he says. "Citizens want the transparency and immediacy of information; if the power goes out, or if there are road problems, to know where the problems are and how quickly they'll be fixed," he says.
McElroy says that technical proficiency and domain expertise with GIS skills and technology are critical, but doesn't discount soft skills such as communications, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork abilities. Combined with technical prowess, these soft skills help meld the software experience when combined with industry-specific knowledge to produce a well-rounded job candidate in both the private and public sectors, he says.
"A GIS skill set can help a job applicant to differentiate themselves from the larger pool of applicants. Those professionals that are able to highlight their skills and experience in these areas will shine," says McElroy.
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