GIS & U.S. Presidents 

From time to time I get an urge to create geospatial datasets by doing half-hearted research online. It’s just a nerdy hobby of mine but it’s something I enjoy. With this research though, my goal is to produce maps that display my data in a variety of ways. I query my datasets to narrow down something that I think would be interesting to see spatially…

I became interested in following American politics and global events roughly 2 or 3 years ago. With my growing interest, I always come up with mapping ideas for current events and trending topics, but I never seem to act on them because I stay so busy with work.. Recently I did some simple research and created a table of data on our Presidents. The dataset I created is relatively extensive and I will likely create a few more maps from it, but these two are the two I have made so far. 

I think it’s interesting to see on a map where our presidents were all born. And in a morbid way, it’s also interesting to see where they have died. I think this mapping idea of mine was extremely simple but unique at the same time. 


The ESRI User Conference’s Impact on a Young GIS Professional


I’m 24 years old and I’ve been in the world of GIS for only 4 years. 3 of those years being a mixture of internships and college classroom exposure . I didn’t realize my passion for GIS until I had completed my first 40 or 50 hours of school… I’ve now been working as a GIS Analyst in the energy industry for a little over a year.

This year I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the world renowned User Conference that esri puts on every summer. There were a staggering 16,000+ GIS professionals in attendance. We came from all over the world. I met so many people that I lost track of them in my head. I mingled with folks from Sweden, India, Abu Dhabi, Japan, and a trillion others who live right here in the United States. One of the most important aspects of this conference is networking and sharing perspectives with other like minded individuals. I believe that in itself makes coming to this conference worthwhile.

I sat through session after session, workshop after workshop, speech after speech, and demonstration after demonstration to let it all wash over me. I was so energized and excited about ideas I had come up with for my current employer that I sat up late into the nights working on them. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere of the ESRI UC, but it’s refreshing to experience. I’m looking forward to the conference next year already. I’m hoping some of my college GIS friends will be able to attend so we can experience it together, as well as the San Diego night life. I’ll be bringing Tay to this thing next year no doubt. I want to expose her to this environment. I think she’ll thoroughly enjoy it.

Until next year!

Passing the FAA’s Remote Pilot Exam

There is no question that drones are the future in GIS. Sure they have an enormous presence in the industry today, but at a capacity that is microscopic to what it will be in the future. ESRI has even taken recognition by launching the robust Drone2Map software. If you haven’t had the chance to play with this software or at least watch some tutorials on it, I would highly recommend you do so.
So about the CFR Part 107 Exam

Back in August of 2016 the FAA instituted regulations that must be adhered to when piloting any UAV. This means you must obtain a certificate for commercial use here in the United States. Commercial use simply means that you’re either flying on behalf of your employer or you’re flying it personally to earn money. 

Now to get your certificate you must pass an aeronautical exam that was developed by the FAA and is administered by the FAA. This is no joke either.. It isn’t  something you can go and pass using the product of elimination or just plain common sense. You MUST STUDY. As long as you care about passing the exam and you study for a good week (about 2 hours per night), you’ll be fine. 

Some basic info to know if you’re going to go after your certificate. 

  • There are 60 multiple choice questions
  • There are 3 answers to choose from
  • You must earn a 70% to pass
  • You must take it at an FAA testing center
  • The test costs $150.00
  • You must wait 2 weeks to retake it if you fail on your first attempt
  • When you finish your test, you’ll know right away what your score is

My studying approach…

I chose to read the actual Part 107 study guide that the FAA released word for word. Once I read all 70+ pages and let it wash over me, I went back through and made some notes. On top of this, I watched YouTube videos discussing airspace classifications, how to interpret weather reports, how to read sectional charts, and other things that I found to be a bit abstract from the FAA’s study guide. Once I did all of these things I had created quite the study guide. Well… my girlfriend had created quite the study guide haha. She took it upon herself to organize all the information into an interpretable document that she could quiz me with. We studied for roughly 5 or 6 days and then I went and took the exam. I earned an 83%. I felt that the amount of studying I did was a bit of an overkill, but I learned quickly during the exam that I was lucky I studied as much as I did. I expected an A, but an 83% gets me off the ground so I was happy with that. 

If you’d like to discuss the exam with me please just shoot me an email. I’d love to help in any way I can.

Here is the FAA issued study guide to get you started:
Good luck!!

    Mapping Global Terrorism

    About 3 months ago I stumbled upon an interesting geodatabase that housed global terrorism data. This database was established by the University of Maryland and was very well put together. I started scrolling through the spreadsheets of metadata to check out what information they had for each act of terrorism, and I was astounding by how much detail and effort was put forth in this project. I get embarrassingly excited when I find well organized information like this, because it means running queries will be simple, thus making map generation relatively simple. I began querying with various parameters just to kind of play with with the data, and I decided that I wanted to create 3 maps based on 3 separate parameters. The first parameter being “fatalities per instance”. With this, I wanted to create a world map with every recorded act of terrorism this database had, and within each instance display the number of fatalities. I created 3 categories that would color the point/instance based on the number of people killed. A red dot meaning >19 deaths, a yellow dot meaning >5 but <20, and a green dot meaning <6.



    The second map I created was focused on a specific terrorist organization. “Al-Qaeda claimed acts of terrorism” was the second parameter I was interested in mapping. I wanted this map to be simple to read, and I wanted it to capture the mood that someone experiences when thinking about or discussing terrorism. This is why the map is made up of all dark colors. In this map you will see red points that indicate an act of terrorism that was claimed by the Al-Qaeda group, and you will see dark gray points that represent all other instances of terrorism. I acknowledge the three countries with high outlying numbers of fatalities in the map as well.



    The third and final map I created with this amazing database focuses on South Asia. I put the focus here due to the high concentration of attacks that were recorded in the region. I wanted to investigate a little as to who was responsible for most of these attacks in such a densely populated and attacked area, so I queried the data around for quite some time to figure out who the top 5 culprits were. This was my third and final parameter of interest. I wanted to display, using 5 different colors, who the top 5 terrorist organizations were based on deaths in that area. You will see the different colors for each organization in this map as well as a dark gray color for other terrorist organizations who fell below the top 5.




    All data that is displayed in the maps was obtained from the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD).

    My First 3D Model


    This was my very first 3D model. I flew the Oolagah Dam spillway while the gates were wide open. This was merely a test to see how my GoPro and 3DR Solo drone would do when put to the task of gathering data for a 3D model. I exported the LAS point cloud from Pix4D and imported it into ArcScene. I applied RGB to get the natural colors and it turned out pretty decent. The water wasn’t captured and I assume it’s because of how much it was white-capping. I learned about Remote Sensing in college, and I know the light is scattering on the rough waters. I was able to get a few solid measurements of the water channel (370′ & 303′) as you can see.

    This was a success in my books.

    Picher Perfect|An Oklahoma Ghost Town

    I had just recently passed my remote pilot exam, and I was itching to take to the skies. I wanted my first drone outing to at least be somewhat purposeful and interesting, so I thought it would be fitting to document what was left of Picher, Oklahoma. Picher is an abandoned town located in the Northeastern part of the state. Toxic levels of lead, zinc, and other harmful metals litter the town and forced residents to evacuate years ago. The large mounds in the video are piles of excavated lead and zinc materials from subsurface mining. These piles are commonly referred to as “chat”. I know a good amount of people who played on these piles and swam in these rivers before it was known to be an extreme hazard.

    This video is what we put together of our day. We were a crew of three. I flew my 3DR Solo drone to capture the aerial footage, my girlfriend Taylor was my visual observer, and Paxton used his Canon T5i to get the ground video.