production cartographer

Topic: A day in the life of a production cartographer

Author: Meg Petroski, Production Cartographer

Meet Meg Petroski, one of the production cartographers on staff.


Tell me your name and about your typical day:

My name is Meg Petroski and I’m a production cartographer on the School Boundaries Team for Maponics. Most days you’ll find me standing at my desk, looking up school districts around the country and tracking down the maps they use to determine where students in the district go to school. I may also be integrating new data that has been worked from our outsourcing partners or even doing some in house edits. If I’m not at my desk, I’m in the greenhouse talking to transportation departments and school personnel about what methods they use to draw boundary lines. Or I’m in a meeting with a coworker in the Netherlands discussing ways to improve quality control over the data before it is released to customers.


So what is a production cartographer?

A cartographer is someone who creates maps. Here at Maponics, we call those people production cartographers. Basically, we are responsible for the “identification, acquisition, and maintenance of spatial data resources”. On a daily basis we’re expected to use GIS tools to build and enhance the data we work with. These tools allow us to manage, analyze, store, and present spatial data. At Maponics, we use a variety of software packages to work with our boundary data. I prefer ESRI’s ArcGIS but we also dabble with QGIS which is an open source package.


Can you tell us about any challenges you’ve encountered this week?

This week, I’ve worked with the engineers to tweak one of our polygon building tools so that it reads the attributes from our points, saving us a lot of manual work. Customer support asked for me to take a look at list of schools in Texas to see whether we build boundaries for them and if they are already in product. We’re testing new tools for the production team to make scanning through the large databases more efficient and following up questions from our outsourcers.


How long have you been doing this? Why did this type of work interest you?

I’ve been working at Maponics for three years now (this month’s my anniversary!). Back in college, I was introduced to the art of cartography towards the end of my senior year and then I stuck around to do my Master’s and continue working with an incredible professor. She really inspired me to play with the software and pushed me to explore the creative side of map making. While we don’t make intricate maps for printing here at Maponics, I like that the data I work with on a daily basis has meaning for people. Parents are looking for great schools and I can help guide them by giving them the most accurate, up to date information. And I absolutely love being able to move around the country (virtually) and see the imagery change from state to state.


What made you come to work for Maponics? What do you like most about the company?

Two of my best friends in college were accepted to school in Burlington, Vermont and it seemed like a cool place to spend some time in. I got in touch with a professor at the University of Vermont and he gave me a list of GIS companies in Vermont and New Hampshire. Going through the list, I got to the M’s and thought that Maponics could be just what I was looking for. Three years later, I’m still enjoying it. We have some unique benefits like snacks in the kitchen, a park for frisbee breaks, a very open and engaging CEO and management staff, and supportive coworkers. I like the fact that while Maponics is passionate about its business, the company is also passionate about its people and they encourage us to continue learning and pursuing what fuels our spirits.