Senior CAD/GIS Technician
Treework Environmental Practice
Hi Magda, thank you for taking the time to speak to us again and talk us through what a typical working day looks like for a CAD/GIS Technicians at one of the UKs largest Arboricultural Consultancies!
How do you usually start your day?
Depending on the project, every day can look different and bring new challenges! I mostly work with maps and data in digital formats. Part of my job requires working closely with consultants, managers, other members of the CAD / GIS team, and sometimes dealing directly with clients.
Normally, at around 8:30am – 9:00am – I start (my day) with a cup of tea and by checking emails and discussing with the consultants their work requirements. Then at around 9:00am – 9:30am I have a CAD/GIS team meeting with Luke and Natalie about the current workload for the day and the rest of the week. After this meeting I grab a coffee and then get started with the setup of new projects.
What is involved setting a project up?
I spend a few hours of the morning of most days setting up new project databases for our surveying team, in a format suitable for use in our own GIS software called MyTrees. I then make sure that each topographical survey is georeferenced and prepared correctly, before I convert CAD files into shapefiles and import them into MyTrees. This often requires us to incorporate data from Ordnance Survey as well, especially when topographical surveys are inaccurate, incomplete or missing. Once this is done, I will add a site boundary and aerial photographs to assist the surveyor with identifying features on the ground. After that, the database is ready to use on a survey, using tablet PC at the site.
Often this process can take up a whole morning and so I will usually finish this and take a 30 minute lunch break to have lunch with my partner and go for a short walk outside – to stretch my legs!
What do you do in the afternoon?
After lunch I could spend time looking at and producing Tree Constraints Plans. I start with a check of the quality of the captured spatial data before I import it into an AutoCAD drawing. I will then compose a map by adding the appropriate symbology, topographical survey and title block. Sometimes I will also use the analysis tools in QGIS (software) to help me to prepare a plan.
I may also be required to prepare associated reports and schedules to support a consultant in delivering tree information to a particular client.
Usually at this point in the day I will grab another coffee before I start looking at any Tree Protection Plans that may be required.
What does the Tree Protection plan involve?
Firstly, I overlay the client’s design on to a Tree Constraints Plan that I previously created. This enables our consultant to clearly see the conflicts between the trees and design and enable them to make an informed decision or issue a recommendation to the client.
The process is very collaborative, and I will work closely with the consultant during this stage: I mark trees up for removal and set out any tree protection fencing; the consultant will communicate back and adjustments made, as needed, to help us support the client vision. I use Microsoft Excel and QGIS to check the quality of the information before I deliver the final plan.
What do you do with the final part of your day?
If I have any time left, I start preparing for the next job. This could be a tree risk or tree population management project that requires ground maintenance plans. If it is a large project with many sites (like a Housing Association), I will need to plan how the data will be recorded in our GIS software and then how to produce plans efficiently. I try to define input and output data and plans, before I set the project up in MyTrees. Occasionally I will use Python scripts in QGIS to speed up the quality management of data on large projects. I may also produce maps in QGIS using scripts and key tools to automate tasks where there are large numbers of trees.
After completing core tasks and getting everything out to our team, I will try and fit in some time for business development!
Many of the projects that I am working on focus on improving our workflow and the GIS/CAD and BIM services that we provide. At the moment I am working on modelling 3D trees in Revit, Vectorworks, and other software. This involves a lot of research and regular testing of our data, modelling trees with the associated attributes. I also spend a proportion of time contributing to the development, testing, and debugging of new versions of MyTrees.
This type of work is a nice change from working with spatial data, maps, and delivering reports and fits well within our culture of innovation and problem solving. One of the things that I enjoy the most about working at Treework!