Directions Magazine (DM): What is your position in your company and what do you do there?
Kerry Wright (KW): I am currently the city of Tampa's GIS supervisor for the Enterprise Applications Division of the Department of Technology and Innovation. In addition to managing the development and maintenance of the city of Tampa’s core GIS data layers, my work focuses on developing a strategy and plan to provide tools, training and thought leadership to maximize the potential of GIS as a management reporting and decision support solution across city departments.
DM: What accomplishments have you achieved?
KW: It has been an amazing experience for me to have been a part of the team responsible for developing the strategy that instituted the shift in the way GIS technology is perceived. When I began working for the city, GIS was pretty unknown; those who knew what GIS was referred to us as "backroom data janitors." Today GIS technology has permeated all aspects of city business. In virtually every department, the use of GIS tools for display and analysis has become pervasive and second-nature. Indeed, the question of return on investment is no longer considered. Rather, the city’s staff and citizens, who also access these data on a regular basis, would question how a contemporary government could function without this technology.
DM: What challenges do you face?
KW: It’s funny because I believe the biggest challenge we as an organization face is directly related to what I believe to be our greatest accomplishment. Now that we have successfully “sold” what GIS technology can do, the departments we support depend on having the latest and greatest that GIS can offer.
Like many municipalities in today’s economy, the biggest challenge we face is having to do more with less. As a result, it is imperative that we come up with innovative and cost-effective ways to effectively deliver GIS for use as a tool to improve the delivery of municipal services.
Success is now dependent on a major shift in thinking and in the way we conduct business. This effort requires a need for more coordination and city-wide integration of disparate systems to eliminate duplicate efforts, to standardize the data used by all departments, and to allow timely and accurate GIS data exchange between departments. My team has been working in coordination with our database team to establish a streamlined method of delivering GIS to our users.
DM: What was your career path to your current position?
KW: I began my career in 1995 as a GIS mapping technician with Hillsborough County. While with Hillsborough County my work focused on E911 - public safety initiatives within the Streets and Addresses division.
I joined the city of Tampa in 1998 as a GIS analyst. My work at that time focused on data. This included developing data, gathering techniques and standards, developing and implementing quality control, and data publishing procedures. In 2003, I was recruited to be a member of an Enterprise GIS Working Group (WG). Our group was tasked by the chief of staff to draft a strategic plan for the development and implementation of an enterprise level GIS. In 2004, the chief of staff issued a charter authorizing the establishment of a centralized GIS team to implement the WG's strategic plan. It was during this time that I was promoted to my current position of GIS supervisor for the centralized GIS team.
DM: What would you like to be doing in your career in 10 years?
KW: I have seen the trend toward coordination of efforts from the city/county/state levels. I would find it interesting and challenging to work toward extending this coordination of effort from the state to the federal level.
DM: What are your personal interests and hobbies?
KW: I enjoy travel, music, movies, motorcycles, roller coasters, sailboats, my dog, community service, exercise, attending sporting events and celebrating special occasions with family and friends.