Next Generation GIS Mapping at geothinQ

geothinQ is an app that enables real estate professionals and property managers to plot lots of different data sets onto layered maps to quickly make land use decisions. It was created because engineers at Thomas & Hutton found themselves repeating the same tasks over and over. Every project would start with a manual collection of land records that would then be layered onto maps one at a time. It was a time consuming process, and one ripe for automation. The new platform geothinQ fixes all this. Thomas & Hutton’s engineers, as well as a growing number of users throughout the U.S., are now using this map-based interface to visualize land data. In moments they can answer questions that used to take weeks. Creative Coast: For the person who has no idea what you all do, can you talk a little bit about what you do? Chris Nichols: We have a map based application, called geothinQ. It’s basically designed to give people quick access to information, make quick decisions about a piece of property, or a piece of land. Cecilia Arango: Instead of looking at data sheets, and Excel spreadsheets, and numbers, and things like that. It’s a visual way of being able to see this information, on a map. CC: Cool. Let’s talk about Hurricane Erma, and what you guys did for folks to see about storm surge and stuff like that. Preston Evans: We have topography. We have storm surge information and we found a live feed of the storm. It was updated every three hours by the National Hurricane Center. We thought it’d be really cool to put out an app that shows property boundaries, storm surge, and storm track. We basically gave people information that I don’t think that FEMA had. We’re able to actually see their property boundary, and how it would intersect the storm surge. Megan Dulamal: Especially with people fearing flooding, things like that, it was a cool tool for them to look at to see whether or not they had anything to worry about. Chris N: Whether it’s hurricane data or parcel data or elevation, a lot of it is publicly available. But it’s all scattered around in different places. The big advantage of Geothinq is it’s one place where you can go to have everything you want. I think the vast majority of people don’t really know where to find it, or don’t have the time to search through the back pages of the internet to actually figure out where all this data is. Cecilia: I think it’s neat that we’re actually getting out of the box, in terms of using this tool for things other than just for use by developers or commercial real estate brokers. These are just some of the other things that are kind of outside of what we normally do on a day to day. Jatin Patel: It’s not only just public data. We also include private data. You can host your own features on in geothinQ: where the sewer line is, where the storm line is, where the man holes are, stuff like that. If you have your own data that you want to present on a given map, you can do that to. Cecilia: Another good example of that would be conservation areas, endangered species and things like that. It’s cool how different clients use this tool to tailor to what they need it for. CC: Very cool. Can you all talk a little bit about your genesis story? How did geothinQ become geothinQ? Chris N: Thomas and Hutton has hundreds of employees and they all need GIS information. They need property boundaries, topography, soils, levels. What we did before geothinQ was they would come to us and say, “We have a client waiting in the hallway, how fast can you give me five maps of this piece of property?” Then, we would sort of just hand build these maps. There were so many project managers and so few GIS people, we decided that it would be really cool if we created an automated routine for this. It’s really simple to use. Meghan: The old way was cumbersome too. They would come to us and ask for an exhibit. Then, a couple months later, there’s all kinds of updates. We were constantly having to update these maps, and print them out, and do all that stuff. CC: Can you talk about the benefit of you all being rooted here in Savannah. Chris Corliss: Thomas and Hutton was created in 1946. This is a really old company for the city of Savannah. The original office was on Bay Street. Cecilia:  I think it’s interesting that our founders were Army Corp of Engineer officers who ventured off and built this company from the ground up.  I feel like we do have that leg up on trust and knowledge and expertise in our area. I think the relationships — being deeply rooted in Savannah — it gives us the leg up to showcase geothinQ to our clients. CC: Cool. I would be curious to hear why you’ve all decided to work here in Savannah and the benefits of that decision. Spencer J:  I’ve lived here less than a year, so pretty recent transplant to Savannah. I was looking at jobs in DC, where I used to live, and northern California, where I grew up, and here, because my wife’s family’s been based here. It was just awesome to see that there’s a lot to offer in Savannah job wise. It’s far away more affordable, and just a better place to raise a family and live comfortably, than DC or northern California, where everything’s just out of control expensive. Savannah’s pretty awesome. It has the combination of affordability, but really good economic job opportunities. That’s what kind of got me here, in the first place. Preston: I’ve lived here about four years. I came down after college without really any prospects of a job. I came because my brother and my sister both went to SCAD. I drove pedicab for about a year. I was looking for jobs and I actually did some non-profit work with the Savannah Tree Foundation. When this job opened up I jumped on it because it was a perfect opportunity — exactly what I wanted to do and the type of environment I wanted to work in. Chris N: I’m from South Carolina. My family lived in Columbia, Charleston, and I moved here from DC.  The pull is really the geography and the scale of the city compared to other places. It’s easy to get from downtown to the beach. You can still surf at the beach. You can take a walk in a park, that sort of thing. It’s amazing how small it is, how easy to get around and stuff. Not like Charleston, at all. It’s a far more organized situation. Chris C: I’ve been here for almost three years now. My wife and I came from Knoxville, Tennessee. We came down here a few times, just on vacation. We kind of liked the city, just how charming it is. We really liked the food scene and the bar scene downtown. It just has everything you could want in a city. Not that small, but a pretty good sized city. We just thought it would be fun place to live. It seemed kind of happening, compared to Knoxville. Jatin: I moved here about 15 years back, started college at Armstrong. I graduated with my bachelors and masters, and just stayed here. Savannah is one of those cities which is not to big, not too small. You can find everything you need here. Adam Bolfik: I’ve been working here for almost a year now. I graduated from Armstrong, too. I’m just staying in Savannah as long as I can, trying to avoid the Atlanta migration in the technology sector. I’m hoping a lot of technology comes here. It’s good to see more tech events happening in Savannah. Meghan: I’ve been in Savannah, since I was one. I loved it and I went to local schools here. Then I went away to college. Afterwards, I was looking for a job and took an internship to Costa Rica.  On my last day I saw this job posting and put my resume in. I think what really won me over was the interview lunch I had. We went to a noodle bar downtown, and they didn’t have a regular table so we sat all in a row, next to each other. That was just really fun. It has a family feel at this company. That’s what won me over at Thomas and Hutton. It was such a great opportunity, in the field that I had chosen. I’d chose a marsh view over a city view any day of the week. I’m very happy here in Savannah. Cecilia: I’ve been in Savannah since I was ten, grew up in the Savannah public school system. I’ve lived in some bad areas of town. I’ve lived in some really nice areas of the town. I went to Armstrong and decided to stay in Savannah. I have two kids. Both went to public schools here. My oldest son is now a college freshman at Armstrong. My husband was born and raised in Savannah. We’re not gonna leave. We love it here. There are a lot of cultural offerings here. CC: Cool. Alright. You all are totally done. That was awesome. Chris N: Thank you. 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