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August 22, 2022

OHM Advisors: Meet our Experts Series

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OHM Advisors Meet our Experts Series, Helen Scales

Quick Facts about Helen

  • Title: Senior GIS Analyst
  • Office Location: Nashville, TN
  • Years in the Industry: 3.5
  • Fave GIS Tech: ArcGIS Dashboards
  • Fun Fact: Has visited over 20 countries

We checked in with Helen in the OHM Advisors Nashville, Tennessee office to chat about her childhood interest in mapping, her favorite Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, and what she likes to do when she leaves her expert-mapper mode.

Why GIS? What lights you up about it?

Mapping has interested me since I was a kid. I was drawn to the colors and styles of old geological maps. As I grew up, I became interested in the visual and spatial components of data. I was first introduced to GIS in college and never looked back. I treat it as a puzzle—taking rows and columns and figuring out the underlying spatial patterns that wouldn’t be noticed otherwise.

What’s the coolest project you’ve been involved with in your career?

My coolest project was building a GIS system from the ground up for the city of Spring Hill, Tennessee. We’ve implemented a lot of innovative GIS solutions that are unique to the city’s duties including 360 imaging, vehicle routing and tracking, citizen contribution, and inspections for sanitary, stormwater, streets, engineering and construction. We created applications for almost every department, and it’s been great to see the city benefit from the power of GIS.

Tell us about your favorite innovative GIS technology.

It’s definitely ArcGIS Dashboards. Although they’ve been around for some time now, it’s amazing how useful they are for almost every project I work on. Being able to seamlessly summarize data in real-time as it’s collected by multiple teams, citizens or other management systems has been absolutely essential for the clients I work with.

You’ve got one day totally free from it all. What will you do?

I’d spend half the day relaxing at the spa and the other half at the movie theater eating popcorn and watching films!

What do you think is the single most important thing (world event, invention, social phenomenon) impacting your industry today?

The widespread increase of cloud-based storage and web-based software and applications has impacted GIS in amazing ways—one of the best of which is making GIS more accessible and understandable to a wide range of users. Organizations now realize that it’s not as far-fetched to learn and use GIS as it may have appeared in decades past.

If you could pick up a certain skill instantly, what would it be?

I'd speak another language! I’ve visited over 20 countries and think it would allow me to learn and appreciate the places I travel to even more.

Finish this sentence, “to me, success is...”

Making a significant impact in the daily work of my clients. GIS is all about creating solutions—whether that’s creating a map of previously unknown assets or making a tedious process more efficient. I feel successful when I’m useful!

Learn more about Helen and the work she does for OHM Advisors and the Geographic Information Systems industry.