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Workforce Wednesday: Geospatial Science

By Daybreak Staff 2:29 PM March 8, 2017

There are more than 2 million images of Alaska dating back to the 1930s, all used to monitor changes due to climate, earthquakes, volcanoes and coastal erosion, according to Stephen Sparks, an imaging specialist with Quantum Spatial.

“We can look at things like how Turnagain neighborhood changed after the 1964 earthquake or how a community like Utquiagvik, formerly Barrow, has changed over time,” Sparks said. “[There are] many, many uses for the photography.”

This type of high-tech imaging and mapping is called geospatial science, and nearly every industry in Alaska uses these types of services in one form or another, according to Cari-Ann Carty with Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC).

“Different industries that might be looking at this are in oil and gas, timber industries, federal and local state agencies to do local neighborhood mapping,” Carty said.

There are several career opportunities in geospatial science and services. Quantum Spatial, a geospatial data company in Anchorage, hires people who are pilots, aircraft mechanics, sensor operators, geologists, chemists foresters and computer programmers.

“We work a lot with oil and gas companies,” said Adam McCullough, development director with Quantum. “We will map their pipeline infrastructure and kind of model how it’s changing over time. So we can help them direct where they want to focus maintenance and repairs.”

A person starting an internship in geospatial science can earn about $15 an hour. Typically, once a person has gained experience, they earn upwards of $25 to $30 an hour, says Carty.

To see which companies are hiring, head to APICC’s website.

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