GIS: A Higher Degree of Success for Wes Cleland

Wes Cleland was first introduced to the powerful capabilities of GIS technology when his military service brought him to the U.S. Army’s Department of Geospatial Intelligence. He enrolled in the American Sentinel GIS program and earned his bachelor’s degree. Wes will soon begin the GIS master’s program to fully fuse his understanding of geospatial intelligence with GIS database administration knowledge.

Before his bachelor’s degree was even completed, Wes began to use his database skills to contribute to his department as a GIS specialist for a rural Arkansas municipality. His first step on the job greatly impressed his colleagues: Wes used his database skills to, in record time, redistrict city council boundaries. This was an information game changer for the department. How did Wes do that so efficiently and so fast? With his employers impressed with Wes’s capabilities, he was given the green light to “automate 90 percent of the data processes that used to require weeks or months to tabulate, which now only take a fraction of the time to perceive,” says Wes.

Wes soon became the authorized floodplain manager for the city. He was the go-to professional for vital GIS disaster recovery information. And that was only the beginning.

Wes and the department have inventoried each street in the municipality to provide analysis and repairs on a regular basis; storm water and exactly where it will end up in the main river is now accurately predicted. This offers insurance information for floods and can even show authorities where to shut off access to the river in the event of a chemical spill to minimize pollution. If there is a water main break, his department can rush support with the knowledge of which areas are most impacted.

“It’s rewarding to know that I am using and applying this technology to make a difference in the lives of people,” explains Wes. For Wes, his level of advanced GIS expertise has enabled him and others to understand the reasons why the department has systems in place and goals to achieve; there is a larger understanding and an improved camaraderie “about the things we are supposed to do as opposed to just doing things,” says Wes.

Wes is now able to capitalize on his advanced skills that have created job security. He’s also able to envision good things for the future of his career.

“The Army taught me how to think thoroughly about how I use geospatial intelligence, and I was shown how to think on my feet,” explains Wes. With such well-developed GIS skills and so many successes under his belt, Wes is sure to build a career that will manifest his highest ideals. He has room to dream.

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