Geosymp’s Interview series aspirations with Steve Ochieng

Thaa Boniface had an interaction with Geosymp Interview Series Editor Steve Ochieng and here are the thoughts he had to share.

See Steve’s profile here

  1. What inspired the idea of Geo Interviews series? What impact did you hope to make with the interviews?

Ans: We believed that life actually stops when you stop sharing. When I joined college, I had no exposure to GIS or related technologies whatsoever. None. Then we were given a talk by OSL about geospatial.  Well, it was something, but at that time you want to know more, so we all looked for more. You know how we got to know more? From resources that had been shared by other people on the internet, physical materials, and most importantly interacting and sharing with other who had the experience.

So when we started Geosymp for the purpose of sharing, creating a space for everyone to share their experiences in this industry was top of the items. Decimating or lifting experience is still worth sharing. A boy kept all recordings of his guitar lessons, even the worst ones, he later won a competition with a cocktail of the mistake recordings.

When we are able to share knowledge from experiences, we are able to define a future that we all love. This is the desire impact of Geosymp Interview series.

  1. Would you say the intention has been met at least even partially?

Ans: Well, [sighs, leaning back], we’ve been able to ask some legitimate questions, some got answers that I believe changed how someone does their job. And of course we are able to put numbers to how much interest people have on those interviews, it’s intoxicating. So, yeah, the intended impact is somewhere there.

  1. Which is your favorite interview yet?

Ans: All of them. The legitimacy in the responses is most inspiring. I love them all, I really do. But maybe this one of mine will be my favorite. [Loughs]

  1. With regards to the interviews, to obtain honest opinions it’s hinged on openness of the interviewees. What is your take on our openness and readiness to share experiences?

Ans: The gift of sharing is highly regarded by most people I can tell you that, more than we often perceive it. But then it’s also true that, negative experience usually leaves us devastated and get locked in some disengaged boxes in the basement, it’s naturally hard to share them.

That said, I think openness is an issue in several dimensions either by design or accident. We filter so much about what we share. This leaves a lot of areas with No Data. Ultimately, it affects our decision processes.

  1. Individually what do you think are some of the challenges we have in our industry from your experience?

Ans: Now that we’ve talked about openness in the context of sharing information. Reluctance to share has affected very huge sectors of this industry, quick example, KODI, I here they only work of their platforms UI, the value of the data or information therein, well. I’m out of that.

In other news, shyness to make data open, presumably dragged KNSDI initiatives to nobody knows  where.

When we are less open, we slow down the process of collaboration, and we get to be extraordinarily meagre performers in all angles.

Data stinginess, either by design or accident, originates from lack of openness is big challenge around here. Let’s remember openness doesn’t mean free. It’s just an act of democratizing geoinformation.


Imagine, of a hypothetical scenario where two public agencies, would blatantly refuse to share data that is meant to further public service. Data generated using public funds. The motivation is  exemplary. But then this is a hypothetical scenario.

The main challenge that we have is inadequate geospatial policies to address the various sectors sometimes even none.  This is and will continue to be the genesis of all challenges we have now and those we’ll have in the future. In some instances we have very good documents but implementation is comparable to England’s performance in World cup. Repeating disasters.

  1. From your experience on NLIMS development, what are the opportunities that we have for geospatial technology in land administration?

Ans: Unimaginable opportunities. The success of an economy is pegged entirely on how they manage their key resources, land just like any other resource when harnessed to full potential risks depletion of quality. As a country land is our key resource upon which all economic activities are based. It’s therefore imperative that we have a simply “good land administration system”. GI is the backbone of such a system.

So LAS has endless  opportunities for Geospatial technology from data acquisition, standardization, processing, quality control and management. With the innovation in the Data Acquisition equipment today, we can transform our land administration processes a great deal. But then this is where the problem comes in. By this time we haven’t mentioned opportunities for software developers is coming up with service endpoints for various consumers of LAS information.

Web and Mobile GIS technologies are opening more and more gateways to cadastral data capture, sharing and access. We need to seize this lucrative opportunity as an industry. Both for software providers, data providers, and solution developers.

We however have to start somewhere, standardization, policy formulation on use of technology, cost regularization, geospatial data protection and management policies, democratization of geoinformation – not the same thing a freeing up data but making it discoverable and accessible at regular costs.

The cost of hardware has tremendously gone down, which means our agencies and as individuals we have access to powerful enough PCs. The opportunity is therefore opened up in software. On this as well, the OpenGIS has a golden opportunity to thrive by filling the gap of cost restriction for many agencies wishing to provide land administration solutions.


Your Last words:

Let’s start innovating for the future in land administration based on the technologies at our  disposal. This is also true for other geospatial verticals. The comfort of status quo, is toxic to the same status quo. The more we enforce it, we evade the drive and capacity to transform later. When the comfort is blown to oblivion, there will be nothing to fallback to.