Dani Olson (’17): Producing geospatial data and maps for cities, parks, and lakes

Posted on October 20th, 2016 by

daniDanielle Olson ( Class of 2017) is a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography with GIS Concentration. She spent summer 2016 using her GIS skills to make maps and collect geospatial data for the City of Burnsville, MN.

Who did you work for and what did you do?

I worked for the City of Burnsville in the Engineering Department collecting data in the field and managing data and making maps in the office.


What were some of your daily tasks?

A typical day was about 70% outdoors and 30% in the office. Outdoors, I was collecting data points for the Public Works sector using a Trimble GPS. The city needs things like storm and sewer manholes, catch basins, gate valves, curb stops, and fire hydrants in their system for maintenance purposes, among other things. So, essentially, I was given a book of the aforementioned items in the city that still needed location information, and I used GPS to collect this data. Another fairly large project I did was for the Parks sector. There, I used an iPad to collect GPS locations of things like benches, trash cans, bathrooms, picnic tables, and other amenities. This was used to keep a log of the condition of the park amenities.

Inside, I was doing some simple but tedious data management. For example, I had to assign a parcel to city-owned trees that were not given a value during the GIS “join” process. Essentially, this is work that full time GIS employees don’t want to or have time to do!

I always had indoor and outdoor tasks, so I was able to switch off whenever I wanted and when weather did not permit me to be outside.


What are some interesting projects you did?

I created a web map for lakes in the city, showing information about the water quality in those lakes. This web map is now on the City of Burnsville website and is a nice way for residents and visitors to learn more information about their lakes.


What is something you learned that you found very valuable to your GIS experience?

In general, I learned that GIS is used a lot more than I ever imagined and that it makes a lot of tasks simpler for the city. I never thought that the city would need the exact location of all of the manholes, catch basins, curb stops, etc. in the city, but it is really useful for keeping data organized and speedy maintenance if anything should go wrong.


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