Meet the Team: Liz Scott, Head of Data and Insights
Next in the spotlight of our ‘meet the team’ series is emapsite ‘veteran’, and author of our on net zero and sustainability, Liz Scott.
Liz’s deep expertise in geospatial data spans a 17-year career at emapsite. Liz currently leads the Data and Insights team managing emapsite's data programme.
Can you give us some background on your journey into the Geospatial Sector?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the natural world and environmental issues, but due to a mix of questionable career advice and just lack of awareness of what was ‘out there’ I ended up studying engineering instead. I discovered the geospatial world whilst at university but didn’t then have the means to change course and so headed into the world of IT.
Early on in my career working in IT support I was motivated by helping people and demystifying the complexity of tech back in the days when some folk were still scared of computers. Over time however, I came to the realisation that I wanted to fuse my technical understanding with an element of creativity and I was drawn back to the world of mapping, this time in a better financial position, and I was able to complete a post graduate diploma in mapping and cartography. As soon as I qualified, I saw a job opening advertised at emapsite, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Tell us a little about the roles you’ve held at emapsite over the past 17 years.
I originally started as part of emapsite’s tiny technical support team back in 2004. This position provided me with the opportunity to develop my broader geospatial skills using the tools we had back then – desktop GIS, image processing tools and fledgling custom-built webservices.
I’d usually spend my time supporting customers in understanding the most effective way of utilising geospatial data to best suit their needs.
In all, during my 17 years at emapsite, my roles have included pre and post sales support, product design, data and content management – and leading the data and insights team.
What do you enjoy most in your role as Head of Data and Insights?
We’re the team that produces the products that emapsite sell. We immerse ourselves in the data, getting to know how we need to engineer each incoming data source, as well as exploring the content itself – the possibilities through the lens of how our customers might be able to get some sort of benefit.
I’m lucky to lead such a great team, with our common goal to optimise emapsite’s value-add to our customers – we want to deliver them something they can use straight away. It is rewarding to be able to analyse the content of the data, to identify and explore different application scenarios. At times our work can also extend to customer advice - for example, if a customer has a particular data challenge. I enjoy encouraging my team to learn new skills and make an effort to find what motivates us individually.
I’ve studied and learnt a significant amount about geospatial data over the years. I’ve been an Ordnance Survey Accredited Consultant when this scheme was running, plus enjoyed helping out with the informal geospatial group meetup Maptime in Southampton, and delivered talks at both Geomob meetup in London and the AGI (Association for Geographic Information) conference in the past.
How would you describe the culture at emapsite?
We’ve grown over the years but we’re still a small company – everyone knows each other despite the fact over the past eighteen months we’ve had quite a few new faces who we didn’t get to meet for many months! We put great effort into ensuring everyone meets each other regularly whether in person or via video, and despite the shift now to ‘hybrid working’ we’re still holding weekly all-company video meetings to share team news and keep up the communal continuous learning.
A company’s culture evolves with its people and emapsite feels a very different company now from how it was even a few years ago – a few old timers like me still around but many newer faces bringing different perspectives from different industries. I might have been here a long time but I learn so much from my colleagues of all ages and experiences.
We recently celebrated 21 years as a business. It was great to get together as a company, and in some cases, meet people in person for the first time!
What do you do in your spare time?
We are currently building our own property and have been living in it for the past year although it could be called an agile project – whether it’ll ever count as ‘finished’ is debatable! Going through the building process has provided me with further insight into the sustainability challenges that are faced by the construction industry, and the pivotal role that geospatial technology can play as part of the solution. We hear so many complaints about the wastefulness of the industry – I’ve now got a lot more sympathy for why things are the way they are.
Outside of the house I fulfil my nature-loving side by being involved in bird surveying. This includes being part of a team carrying out annual field surveys of seabirds on the Shiant Isles in the Hebrides, plus a project monitoring a population of gulls, and local farmland bird surveying.
I’m a trained and licensed bird ringer under the British Trust for Ornithology ringing scheme. Bird ringing involves catching a bird and attaching a small uniquely numbered ring to identify the bird as an individual, with the purpose of measuring population sizes, survival rates, dispersal and migration patterns. The Black-headed gull project I oversee involves colour ringing the gulls as chicks with rings readable in the field, and we get regular reports from birdwatchers of ‘our’ gulls which travel across the UK and beyond to the Republic of Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain.
As part of the seabird team I look after the mapping work for our various projects. We’ve recently been using light-logging geolocators as part of a wider study on the movements of Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins, the data from which all goes into the Seatrack project run by the Norwegian Polar Institute and many dedicated and talented full-time seabird ecologists. This data is shared across organisations and institutions internationally, and along with our longitudinal study data from ringing is currently being used to monitor seabirds as they respond to the threats posed by climate change – sea temperature rises, disruption to food webs, and storms. Gathering data on birds – whether as a professional ecologist, part-time volunteer field ecologist like me, or more casual ‘citizen scientist’ - is a way we can help address the impacts of climate change – and mapping this data plays a key part in its analysis.
Read Liz’s recent blog:
Liz Scott is Head of Data and Insights at emapsite.