“My favorite thing to do is to lead clients through brainstorming solutions to solve their challenges and help make their jobs easier.”
Geographic information systems (GIS) and data rockstar by day. Small business aficionado by night.
Eric Abrams is driven to help clients solve challenges and increase business efficiency. Having spent 30 years working with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), Eric leverages his DOT business understanding with his passion for developing solutions to help clients establish authoritative data environments.
We asked Eric a few questions to get to know him better:
Tell us about your industry experience.
From 1995-2005, I worked for the Iowa DOT in the IT department, helping with automation. I assisted the cartography, road inventory, and planning offices with automating inventory and analysis.
Through this process, I developed a custom application for MicroStation, which initiated a digital transformation and led to deploying the first Iowa DOT web server. This created a domino effect, and I became an expert in the linear referencing system (LRS). I then helped the Iowa DOT with one of the first National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) 20-27 compliant LRS implementations in the U.S.
Upon accepting the GIS manager position with the Iowa DOT in 2005, I guided the department in modernizing its GIS technology and geospatial tools and assisted in migrating from a custom LRS to Esri ArcGIS Roads and Highways. This led to deploying the first fully-embraced Esri GIS web servers.
From 2015-2020, I focused on snowplow tracking. In addition to architecting the system to track a plow for physical asset management, I developed a dashboard for school superintendents to use with their road inventory to better evaluate the road conditions for their schools.
What benefits did you see after implementing tools like Esri ArcGIS to improve business flow and processes?
One of the keys to geospatial maturity is having easy access to software and training. Investing in Esri through an enterprise agreement gives software to the masses. When the Esri ecosystem is combined with proper training, users become empowered to create maps and apps and complete geospatial data analysis.
After nearly 30 years at the Iowa DOT, I began looking for a different career path. I realized that I enjoyed traveling and talking about GIS, data integration, and best practices. I approached GeoDecisions, a division of Gannett Fleming, to see if they needed somebody with a DOT background, and they said yes. I like the culture and teamwork here, along with being a trusted advisor to our clients.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities.
As a senior project manager, I act as a technical architect. When I’m not working on a project, I’m actively finding new ways GeoDecisions can help clients harness the power of their data to create enterprise solutions. My favorite thing to do is to lead clients through brainstorming solutions to solve their challenges and ultimately make their jobs easier.
How does your work contribute to the firm's vision?
One word: data. Data, including geospatial data, is key to performing analysis and tracking assets. Having open and usable data helps create sustainable processes. We can innovatively apply this data to organizations and help them improve the communities they serve.
What impactful and innovative projects are you working on right now?
One project I’m working on is the PennDOT Design Collaboration. This project brings together many systems used throughout the design process and automates manual processes. I am also working with the Region of York, Canada. They have an advanced GIS environment, and I’m helping them to define the future of web mapping and evaluating how they can leverage the digital twin technology.
How does GeoDecisions support your professional development and career growth?
GeoDecisions allows me to be innovative, which helps fuel my passion to make DOTs and other clients the best they can be. The firm also encourages me to be a thought leader, and so I regularly present as part of Gannett Fleming’s INSIGHTS webcast series. Register for our session on “The Future of Web Mapping!”
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Always push the limits, so you can see the new horizon.
What can AEC firms do to celebrate diversity and create a stronger sense of belonging across diverse groups?
Diversity in thinking is key to solving problems. Since we all come from different places and backgrounds, meshing these experiences reveals better answers and direction.
Let’s talk family!
My wife, Amy, and I have been married for 30 years, and we have two kids: Colby and Mackenzie. Colby and his wife, Shelby, live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with my granddaughter, Ellie. Mackenzie lives in a small town a few miles outside of Ames, Iowa.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I have always had multiple jobs at the same time. My wife and I own four clothing stores in central Iowa with 52 employees. She runs the stores, and I assist with maintenance, finances, advertising, and the website. Another thing most people don’t know about me is that I like to visit college and professional football stadiums. My goal is to see every Big 12 stadium!
What are your favorite hobbies?
Watching football and movies and taking photographs.
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