For many of us, Spatial Thinking, being aware of a physical location and how it affects the idea you're looking at, might not be something we consider on a daily basis. For Alex Clark, founder of Clearview Geographic LLC., it's what he does for a living. Before launching his business in March of 2018, Clark spent two years working as an Environmental Scientist and GIS Specialist with Zev Cohen and Associates. Before that, he worked as a Digital Cartographer in DeLand.
"I originally went in the industry without knowing what I was getting into," Clark said. "I quickly recognized there was a lot more potential, in terms of service and software related GIS applications, than what I did in college and in my professional life. I figured why not go for it. Leaving a steady job for the unknown was scary, but in the long term it will pay off."
Clearview Geographic's services include Business Intelligence Analytics, Database Optimization and Design, Location and Geographic Research, and Custom Cartography and Mapping. Clark plans to incorporate Drone Imagery and Video within the next few months after obtaining the appropriate FAA license. "When I meet with a business owner and they start talking about sales and new projects they're working on, my mind immediately goes to the following types of questions: Where are the sales at? What factors in that location are affecting sales? How can we improve logistics in getting employees there to work on a particular project? It's about taking abstract concepts and overlaying them onto maps and then doing data analysis."
Clark shared a few examples of how businesses can utilize his services. "If an irrigation company installs 500 feet of pipe and sprinkler heads in various locations, that information, including receipts, transactions, and maintenance instructions, or anything else related to the installation, can be mapped and stored in a database that we maintain," he said. "The customer, the irrigation company and even future landscapers could all have access to the map and attached information, thus improving the possibility of a quick resolution if something were to break."
Another example Clark gave was using his services to better map the location of Gopher Tortoises on construction sites. "With GIS, you can attach more than just the location of the tortoise burrows," he said. "You can add things like, burrow size, densities, surrounding foliage, etc., to help give a bigger picture of the tortoise's impact in a particular area. This type of GIS allows a specialist to identify trends based on location that they weren't necessarily aware of before."
Looking ahead, Clark plans to purchase an advanced license and a few extensions to give him more geo-processing capability. These new capabilities include remote sensing technologies that would allow him to take data points, get ground truth points and, using various tool sets, allow one data point to be projected across entire data sets. This can be used for habitat analysis, vegetation monitoring, finding exotic species and other large scale mapping projects. With the drone and extensions of GIS, Clark explained that you can take drone footage of 10,000 acres and project the information across the entire area without having to physically verify everything.
Clark's business is unique in that he's trying to take all the various uses for GIS and house them in one area to improve the quality of cartography and underlying data; all GIS specialists have their own methodology – which increase the possibility of error and inconsistency across datasets. Clark explained, "GIS can be used to map wetlands, to do route planning for 911 services and by the forest service to fight forest fires. GIS services usually don't exist as a stand alone business. They're usually housed within existing companies, focused on particular specialties such as, 911 services, City Planning and Environmental agencies. Bringing multiple GIS applications together under one roof can increase the accessibility for useful data-driven insight to be shared with those who don’t have access to such technology."
The idea is still in beta, but he plans to offer a yearly subscription for his customers to be included into a database. The idea is to give non GIS users the ability to do rudimentary GIS work to find resources they may need. ArcGIS online allows GIS developers to display data, almost like a google maps utility. Clark's plan is to put a tool, similar to a political district map, into the hands of customers that want to "live locally".
Clearview Geographic's mission is to stimulate economic develop and growth across the United States by providing businesses with the necessary resources to more comfortably push the envelope. Clark is working hard to make this happen. By utilizing local resources, such as CareerSource Flagler/Volusia, SCORE, and thinking outside the box, Clark is laser focused on making his company a one-stop-shop for GIS, data management, and business resource creation.