As I have been working in the GIS field for 10 years in Maryland, I have met some interesting, talented, intelligent, and motivating GIS colleagues along the way. Hopefully this blog series will share with you some exciting tidbits of information from each person who has touched my career in some way.

I first met Barney Krucoff at a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments GIS committee meeting in 2006. At the time, Barney was the GIS manager for Washington DC and I was very impressed with his knowledge of spatial technology and the cohesiveness of DCs GIS. When I heard the news that Barney was coming to work in Maryland, I knew that Maryland GIS would be in good hands.

Quick Facts about Barney Krucoff

Tell me something fun about your job.
Governor O’Malley
has a special interest in geospatial technology and really uses maps and data to manage and lead the state. I bet that I’m the only state GIO who sits in his governor’s senior staff meetings. The challenge is delivering data and applications fast enough.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?
Ultimate Frisbee

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in Bethesda, Maryland since 1995.

What is your favorite GIS book?
To be honest, I don’t read GIS books cover-to-cover. That said, I’m a sucker for books that use transparent pages, like GIS applications use layers, to tell a story about a place. For example:

  • Cities Then and Now, by Jim Antoniou
  • Transparent Cities, by Brian McGrath

1. What professional organizations are you active in?
I became active in the National State Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) when I became the District of Columbia GIS manager in 2004. Over the years NSGIC has been a great source of contacts and information. NSGIC also provides benchmarks to measure how a state-level geospatial program is doing, and a little friendly comparison between states never hurts.

Now I’m also becoming involved with the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee (MSGIC). Maryland is lucky to have so many professionals and students interested and active in the organization.

2. How would you recommend others get involved in GIS?
I’m amazed at the quality and quantity of GIS programs in Maryland universities and colleges. Whether you want to major in GIS or support another specialty by adding GIS knowledge, here are some links:

3. How has GIS changed since you first started your career?
Here is some of the stuff we didn’t have:

  • Data (except TIGER and some DLG)
  • Graphical user interfaces
  • GPS (it existed, but few civilians had seen it)
  • Email (it existed, but wasn’t widely used)
  • The World Wide Web
  • Did I mention we didn’t have any data?

4. Where do you see GIS going in the future?
I haven’t been all that good at predicting the future of GIS during the first 21 years of my career, but as they say, “past performance is no indication or guarantee of future results,” so there is hope. The obvious trends seem to be the same ones that are moving the IT industry generally:

  • GIS, more than most information technologies, was focused on the public sector. It is now mass market and consumer oriented. The public sector is still adjusting to this shift.
  • Open source software is coming on strong.
  • Crowdsourcing and volunteer geographic information are coming on strong.
  • The cloud hosting is changing business models.
  • Web offerings continue to evolve rapidly from publishing pages to publishing services.
  • Citizen expectations for presentation and quality of government data are rising.

5. Could you explain how/why GIS is important in today’s world?
We are living in a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, aka, the Age of Man. Through development, farming, and energy use, humans are now changing the Earth itself and geologic time is accelerating. GIS helps us manage many things today (crime, transportation, health, land use, farms, etc.). What many people don’t yet realize is that now we need to start managing the planet holistically. GIS isn’t a tool in the planetary management tool box, it is the schematic.

6. Where do you see the job market going in terms of opportunities in GIS?
I see the job market remaining strong, but at the same time GIS is becoming less like magic every day.

7. How did you get interested in the field of Geography/GIS?
I was always interested in maps and cities, and I was comfortable with computers. I was already on my way to getting a Master’s in City Planning from Georgia Tech when I took Dr. Bill Drummond’s GIS class in 1990. I knew quickly that I had found my calling.

8. Did/do you have a mentor? Who?
Many people inspired me, taught me, and helped me establish my career. They include:

My greatest professional inspiration has come from my staff at Michael Baker and the District of Columbia. They are too numerous to mention here.

9. What is one piece of advice you would give to a newbie in the field?
I have never loved the traditional five-part definition of GIS (hardware, software, data, processes, people). It is accurate but too clinical. I prefer a two-part definition: “GIS combines the power of maps with the power of computers.” Now the advice, don’t forget the computer part – particularly relational database management.

In case you missed the second installment of “On the Map,” check out my interview with Kenny Miller.