Category: interview

Interview with Drew Bollinger from developmentSEED on Machine Learning.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning(ML) are one of those buzzwords that became really popular in recent years. How much hype vs. substance is behind them? Are they practical? How can you use them to solve your specific GIS problems?

Those were just a few questions that had in mind and wanted to answer.

Fortunately, I found devlopmentSEED which specialise in using Machine Learning to solve important problems and ask them to help me out.

I had privilege to talk to Drew who works there and he was eager to answer all of my questions:)
If you’re interested in AI/ML and especially how you can use it in your GIS work, this interview is a great way to start!

00:00   Short intro: what’s this interview is all about?
00:53   How Developmentseed makes Machine Learning more accessible for everyone?
02:06   What’s Machine Learning anyway and how it relates to Artificial Intelligence and GIS?
03:50   How much data do you need to make Machine Learning practical?
05:29   What we can do with Machine Learning that we can’t actually do without it? Drew tells a story about how ML helped        mappers with mapping Energy infrastructure in developing countries.
09:32  Why IA makes more sense that AI right now?
10:20   What’s Developmentseed’s Skynet? (and why you don’t need to fear the evil AI)
11:47   Should GIS Professional learn Machie Learning?
13:35   What would be the very first step for GIS Professionals to start learning Machine Learning?
16:04   What’s LabelMaker and why should you try it?
18:53   When will Machine Learning be integrated into popular GIS desktop software?
20:18   Any ML use cases not based on OSM?
22:05   What’s the main chellange in “training” your own ML algorithms and how to overcome them?
25:21   Question to you dear GIS Professional: How do you think ML would help you with your GIS workflow?

You can also listen to the interview on youtube:

Additional resources:
developmentSEED projects:
Machine Learning resources:

Question of the day: How do you think Machine Learning would help you with your GIS workflow?

Leave me a comment below, thank you!


Interview with Silas Toms – the Python Expert who brought GIS to the Super Bowl


I wanted to interview Silas for quite some time because his Python books are well know in GIS community.

My main goal with this interview was to dig deep into Silas’s experience and mine his insights mainly about learning programming.

But, we’ve had such a good time that we went way beyond that!

There are a lot of valuable insights in this interview but I especially like:

  • The story about his career path and how he managed to “bridge” his interests in Geography with technology.
  • His practical insights about learning and teaching programming and what really works when it comes to both.
  • Ok, the story behind the Super Bowl GIS project and how it keeps a lot of people safe (plus how it all started with Taylor Swift:)

There’s much more inside, so I highly recommend the whole interview!

And don’t forget to leave me a comment down below and answer the question (actually there are two) of the week:

How do you describe your GIS work to others?

Where’s GIS tech in your everyday life?


Also available on youtube:

The Interview notes:

00:00 Starting with Super Bowl tease:)

00:21 About Silas’s latest book.What’s new in ArcPy and ArcGIS Second Edition?

01:43 What does the trickster god Loki has to do with GIS and Business?

03:41 How Silas’s personal experience inspired him to help others with programming,  what’s the most satisfying about teaching.

05:43 How the economy crisis took Silas’s career in the direction of the technology even though he wasn’t expected it.

08:11 How he then was able to “bride the gap” between his interests in geography and technology.

08:47 How Python improved the analysis process from week long “button pushing” to one hour in only one month.

09:29 Why automating yourself “out of doing the boring stuff” can be a good thing.

11:56 Why you don’t have to fear automation? Important “tasks” that you can’t actually automate.

13:42 How to convince someone to automate…

16:35 The “traps” of trying to teach yourself programming. The best way to learn when you’re beginner and why this “method” is particularly effective?

19:25 The most difficult thing to learn for beginners and the most difficult thing to teach for teachers.

20:14 The challenges and delights of teaching programming.

21:42 Silas’s reveals some details about his next book project.

24:50 What’s the best way to get started programming?

27:09 How Silas was the key person in bringing GIS to the Super Bowl and helped with security of 75k fans. (tip: it all started with Taylor Swift!)

33:03 Questions for you, dear GIS Professional: How do you describe your GIS work to others? Where’s GIS tech in your everyday life?

35:11 What’s good balance between technology skills and geography skills? Why geography matters?

Additional resources/informations:

Loki Intelligent Corporation:
ArcPy and ArcGIS Second Edition:
ArcPy and ArcGIS: Geospatial analysis with Python:
(Both are available through Amazon as well).
The new book will be out in late February/early March.
Connect with Silas:
And don’t forget to answer our key question below:

How do you describe your GIS work to others?

Where’s GIS tech in your everyday life?