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Meet the makers of the Map App: BPS’s skilled GIS team brings technical maps to life

The interactive Map App is an essential tool for sharing, learning about and commenting on the proposed Comprehensive Plan maps. Under the leadership of Kevin Martin, BPS Technical Services Manager, Carmen Piekarski and Derek Miller have been working to collect, organize and visualize data, while developing a user-friendly web interface.

Data can be complex and messy, and Carmen says it’s her job to “keep it clean.” Working with geographic databases in Esri ArcGIS and SQL Server software, she coordinates with BPS District Liaisons and staff in other City bureaus to collect, maintain and track changes to the data for the Comprehensive Plan. With this information she creates maps on themes like land use changes, transportation and infrastructure projects, urban design concepts and environmental issues.

Carmen studied geography at Portland State University, then joined Washington County’s planning department before a career detour working at an Alaskan fishing lodge. Lured back to Portland by an offer at BPS, she has been with the bureau since 1997. She says the work is "always interesting” and enjoys that her job involves finding creative ways to solve problems. Outside the office, she stays busy training Gracie, her 4-year-old thoroughbred horse.

Derek built the front-end user interface of the Map App, which lets users access and display the data and maps. JavaScript code “does the heavy lifting” of making the app run, say Derek. It’s a customized blend of Esri software components combined with JavaScript and HTML/CSS. Together they coordinate the back-end databases with the interface users see on their desktop browser or mobile device.

Originally from Kentucky, Derek joined BPS after a stint in Nashville with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He studied cartography and data analysis with University of Oregon’s Infographics Lab while getting his master’s in geography. His hobbies take him outdoors, where he bikes, plays soccer and hikes the Columbia Gorge with his wife.