Spencer Han - Geospatial careers profile

Spencer is a Data Wrangler at Stats NZ.

Spencer Han
  • Qualification and GIS component: BSc(Hons) in GIS, GradDipSci in Computer Science, Master of professional studies, Data Science
  • Tertiary Institutes: University of Auckland, University of Waikato
  • Work role: Data Wrangler at Stats NZ. Previously GIS Administrator at Waikato Regional Council.

Why did you choose to study GIS?

It’s all about my interests. I have fallen in love with cartography ever since the day I got my first world map. I was fascinated by the scale of the globe and the way that everything is pinned at every intersection of latitude and longitude.

I pursued my passion for cartography by choosing to study geography at the University of Auckland where I came across the sub-subject GIS. GIS has since drawn me into the area of producing digital visualization and analytical output from geographic data.

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

As a field of exploring data in a spatial context, GIS has been adopted by many other industries such as environmental studies, asset management and business intelligence. Studying GIS offers a great opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment with people who possess different expertise and skills.

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

For my existing career, I think it’s pretty much stated in my job title. For the future, I would say GIS is really important. There is a commonly cited phrase saying “80% of data is geographic.”  Although it may not be perfectly accurate, at least it provides some level of evidence about the importance of GIS recognized by the industry nowadays. I think GIS is going to keep growing as we are mining more and more spatial data every single day.

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

Be aware that GIS is leveraged by the power of computer systems. Personally, I recognize GIS as an information system designed for the study of spatial data by nature. So taking a few computer science courses alongside GIS studies will help a lot in gaining a fundamental understanding of all modern computer systems.

You are now doing some Computer Science studies – how important do you think the link between Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Computer Science is?

As I mentioned earlier, GIS is built upon the foundation of modern computer systems. It’s heavily involved with web application design, database management, programming and modelling but tailored specifically for geographic information. A number of computer science papers lay the ground for the understanding of technologies applied in a GIS system. Also, GIS is growing to have a closer relationship with other business information systems. It’s really important to have the knowledge about how computer systems communicate with each other (protocols, techniques & applications etc.)