Sarah MacLaurin

“I get to be creative with my job,” says geomatics technician Sarah MacLaurin. “I get to make visually pleasing, easy-to-read maps, and that definitely involves a big creative component, which I really like.” Sarah had entered an environmental studies program with the intention of transferring into earth sciences. But after a semester of geography and remote-sensing courses, her career choice had been made. “I really like the hands-on technical aspect of geomatics and of course the chance to be creative!”

Today, Sarah is creating multi-dimensional maps for the City of Yellowknife as a geomatics officer. She describes her job as making “maps on the fly” for specific uses by city departments. Sarah enjoys the dynamic nature of her job. “It’s always changing. There’s always something different on a day-to-day basis.” Most days, Sarah is at her desk making hard-copy maps for use in bylaw enforcement, municipal economic development, or urban planning presentations.

Another more recent component of her job is developing what she calls an “enterprise system,” whereby all geographical information within the city is more accessible and relevant to its employees. “I’m creating geographic tools so that a routine job in the municipal government that would normally take days to accomplish now would take minutes.” Sarah’s desire to streamline the city’s geographical information is also about freeing up some of her own time to focus on other aspects of her job.

Those include producing maps for other departments within the city, developing methods and procedures for field surveys, and improving the geographic information provided in current maps. As the only geomatics officer for the city, she is usually very busy. “Everyone really likes those strong visual maps and that visual component included in their presentations and reports.” A challenge of Sarah’s job is keeping abreast of geomatics technology: “You’re always on a steep learning curve with this job.” According to Sarah, if you rest on your laurels even for an instant you can fall behind quickly in this position. Part of her responsibility is to stay connected with the geomatics community: “I’m always looking at what’s changing and how does this new technology fit with my job. How will it help?”