Take a Break with 1Spatial's Phil Francis
Tell us about yourself?
I joined 1Spatial back in October 2019, but I have worked in the geospatial industry ever since I first graduated with a degree in Marine Geography from Cardiff University back in 1998.
My first job was working as an offshore surveyor and for 5 years. I got to see a fair bit of the world working on vessels surveying routes for submarine fibre optic cables. Then after going back to university and completing my Masters in GIS at Edinburgh, I became a GIS Consultant for 7 years. Before then worked for a number of utility companies for around 8 years, building and designing their GIS architecture and applications.
I’m a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Professional Chartered Geographer; CGeog (GIS).
At 1Spatial I head up the ‘Taiga’ delivery team. We build enterprise solutions and architectures for our customers; and leverage our technologies to develop new products and solutions.
At home my partner and I are kept busy with our 3 kids and currently trying to juggle work with the pressures of home-schooling (arrgghh!).
Fun fact about you?
I once played the male-lead in Henry Purcell’s 17th Century opera ‘Dido and Aeneas’ including performing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the Southbank!
The actual story behind this isn’t quite as amazing as it first sounds but it’s probably my closest brush with fame to date.
What do you enjoy most about working at 1Spatial?
It’s probably that I consistently get to work on challenging and interesting projects for our customers, alongside a lot of smart and dedicated colleagues.
What are your favourite geospatial products/technologies and why?
This is a tough choice. I’ve used FME for years and I’m always amazed at how versatile a tool it is; I know it’s a bit cliché but it really is the swiss-army knife of the geospatial data wrangler.
I’ve also been a long-time user of the Esri technology stack and to see the development of the technology to help spatial and location become more ubiquitous and pervasive mirrors one of my own reasons and drivers for going to in to a career in GIS, and my passionate belief that geography as a subject can aid our understanding of the world around us.
Since joining 1Spatial, I must say I’m really impressed with 1Integrate’s power and performance though and I’m really excited to use it on some of our upcoming work.
What’s the most interesting solution problem or data challenge you’ve tackled?
It’s always the one occupying my thoughts at the time! Seriously though I’ve been doing lots of work recently in relation to Esri’s new ArcGIS Utility Network and it’s a technology that’s really going to deliver next-generational capabilities for utilities. Modelling and getting an organisation’s existing network data into the Utility Network is a complex undertaking and demands that data quality is put right at the centre of the organisation (a mantra that we at 1Spatial have been pushing for years!). I’ll hopefully be writing and speaking more about this in the coming weeks and months… so watch this space!
What do you love about working in the Taiga team?
In the Taiga team at 1Spatial, we don’t focus on a specific product or technology. Instead we typically design and implement solutions which combine multiple technologies and data together with domain knowledge and understanding. This needs an interdisciplinary team of people who not only have a deep understanding of their functional area and expertise but are also broad in outlook and feel comfortable in applying their knowledge and skills in other areas.
What makes 1Spatial a great place to work?
I work remotely (even before we all had too!) but it was amazing how quickly I felt part of the team and how quickly I got to know everyone. The 1Spatial team really are a close-knit and positive bunch. The company do a great job at organising lots of social, cultural, and charitable events – but these are really inclusive and not limited to those working out of one of our offices.
I also think it’s an empowering place to work. People and teams at 1Spatial are encouraged to own and be proactive in shaping their own development and progression; whilst given the support and space they might need. It really helps foster an environment where company success is built on a foundation of high-functioning and autonomous teams.
If you were given an airline ticket to go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Hmm… another tricky question, there’s so much of the world I’d love to see, explore, and experience. Having visited Alaska back in my survey days, I vowed that I’d go back there one day. The scenery there is just so epic in scale and you really do feel you are in a frontier land.
But probably at the moment it’d be to Canada, my sister emigrated over 20 years ago and we never get to see her or her family anywhere near enough.