Emma Burge is a GIS analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency.

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  • Name: Emma Burge
  • Employer: Environmental Protection Authority
  • Job Title: Geographic Information System (GIS) Analyst
  • Qualification(s): PgDip of Arts - Geospatial Science, Master of International Relations, Bachelors of Arts - Pacific Studies and International Relations
  • Tertiary Institute(s): PgDip from Massey University-distance,  MIR and BA from VUW
  • What Year 13 school subjects did you take: English, Music, Economics, History, Classics
  • What Secondary School did you attend: Spotswood College in Taranaki

Why did you choose to study GIS?

As you can see from my earlier studies, I was initially interested in pursuing the classic Wellington public servant policy pathway. However, I used GIS in my first job and became interested in how it worked so I went back to university to a year of full-time postgraduate GIS study by distance at Massey.

I fell in love with the diverse nature of GIS, where you get to combine technical skills (database management and coding) with creative skills (choosing fun colour schemes and symbols!) Geospatial work is diverse not only because of the skills you learn, but the things you can apply those skills to. There’s so many different fields that use geospatial analysis, so there’s always something new and exciting that you can work on.

What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced from studying GIS?

The concept of space and place are fundamental to everything we do in the world: we define ourselves by where we come from and everything we do is linked in some way to a location. Studying GIS has offered me the ability to learn so much more about the world we all exist in and how we interact with it.

On a more practical and less whimsical level, there’s lots of jobs in the geospatial industry and people always think you’re cool when you tell them you make maps for a living!

How important is GIS for your existing and future career options, and why?

Given that my job title has GIS in it, it’s fairly safe to say that knowledge of GIS is integral to my current role. In the future, I want to use my GIS skills in the humanitarian field promoting safe and reliable access to sanitation and water sources.

As the global community continues to evolve towards a more digital approach to problem-solving, GIS offers us a way to find spatial solutions to problems using powerful digital technologies.

What advice would you give to future students considering adding a GIS component to their studies?

I can’t recommend it enough! You would be surprised at the variety of work that has a spatial/GIS component. In my short time in the GIS field I’ve worked planning rural school bus routes, conducted statistical analysis of female perceptions of safety walking alone at night, and now I help regulate actions in New Zealand’s environment (including our 5 million square kilometres of ocean!). GIS offers so many diverse and exciting ways to better understand and influence the world that we live in.

Last Updated: 30 October 2020