For more than a decade, Eric Callahan, Data Manager, has deployed his innovative thinking and IT expertise to help respond to incidents involving the hazardous release of chemicals. As a newly Certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP), he’s become an even more invaluable asset, both for clients and his teammates. Learn more in the Q&A below.

Tell us more about your current specialties.
I assist our team in analyzing large or complicated data sets. For example, I spent much of 2020 developing digital tools to assist our epidemiologists with COVID-19 data. On more traditional emergency responses, I produce reports and figures for relevant stakeholders or Unified Command. I also fulfill a quality control role by reviewing data we receive from laboratories and from personnel in the field.

Why did you decide to pursue your GISP?
My degree is in biology so before I took on this role I had little formal education in GIS. I’ve been steadily teaching myself the technology and skills over the years. Obtaining my GISP was a way for me to demonstrate what I’ve learned—and confirm to myself that the hard work was worth it.

What did this process entail (e.g., peer-reviewed evaluation, exam, etc.)?
The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) requires applicants to pass an exam covering a broad array of geospatial knowledge. Applicants must submit a portfolio outlining their experience, education, and professional contributions, which GISCI members and other non-profits like the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) review. Individuals must have a minimum of 4 years of experience in a GIS-related role to apply. They receive credit for degrees, GIS-related courses, awards received, conference participation, volunteer efforts, publications, and more.

How will this new certification benefit clients?
An independent organization evaluates GISPs to ensure applicants have met the industry-established educational, professional, contribution, and ethical requirements. This certification reaffirms to our clients that CTEH has the staff and the capability to support projects requiring GIS technologies.

Congratulations, Eric, on achieving your GISP!