GoGeomatics Social Leader Profile: Darren Platakis, Niagara
Darren Platakis has been the group leader for GoGeomatics Canada in Niagara since November 2011. He has written five articles for the GoGeomatics magazine to date, including three publications about his journey as a geographer. He currently works for the Development Services Division of Public Works a the Regional Municipality of Niagara where he began working in June 2011 as an intern which in January of 2012 grew into his current full-time role as Planning and Data/GIS Administrator.
In January of 2013 Darren also founded Geospatial Niagara. His goal for Geospatial Niagara is to promote geo-literacy and community participation through geography. This is an effort to bring education, business and government together to create, promote and attract a geospatial economic sector within his native Niagara region.
Why is reaching out to the community with your passion for education, geography and GIS so important to you?
Darren: “I completed university late in life so I have a lot of time to make up for in terms of career impact.
I am a firm believer that with a Geography degree the sky is the limit in terms of employment. The ability for geographers to work across sectors makes us versatile to adjust to any industry. Working the Vineyarde are geographers in real estate, public health, as lawyers as well as the usual sectors that you would expect and emerging sectors we wouldn’t have dreamed of 5 or 10 years ago. Studying geography opens pathways to anything you want to be. Niagara has been hard hit in recent years due to a decline in our manufacturing base; however, with the programs at Brock University and Niagara College we are poised to capitalize on the geospatial technologies/information sector. Those future entrepreneurs of the industry are kids that are in grades K-12 now. Niagara has it all in terms of lifestyle and amenities so if you are looking to set up a business or expand let me know.
I had some amazing geography teachers when I was in high school and it is them that instilled that passion for geography in me. I’m paying it forward to honor them and to honour the memory of my late wife who was an early childhood educator. With Geospatial Niagara I want to instill that passion for the subject in kids and the broader public as well to engage them in thinking spatially and how things relate to each other spatially, you know Tobler’s First Law of Geography. When I was a kid, we walked or biked everywhere around the city from a very young age. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. I think some of the spatial awareness of kids has been lost. It’s like they’ve lost their spatial innocence because parents have driven them everywhere.”
Darren is a leader in the community for many reasons as you can tell. More information about Geospatial Niagara can be found at http://geospatialniagara.wordpress.com/. There are some exciting projects on the horizon and Geospatial Niagara is seeking volunteers for various outreach programs.
Darren continues to work as a freelance geospatial consultant at 5DB Geospatial Consulting and Research, a company he started in August of 2008. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Geography at Brock University in 2010 and a postgraduate certificate in GIS from Niagara College in 2011.
Read further about his time as the Project Manager for the Topographic Analysis for Vineyard Site Suitability at http://www.gogeomatics.ca/vineyard-site-suitability-using-multi-criteria-evaluation. Darren continues to explore his wine passion through a project he’s been working on since March 2011 – the Topographic Analysis of Elgin County for Wine Grape Production.
Darren is also a member of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education and has received numerous awards including the Public Works Commissioners Award in 2012, the Ellen & Patricia Lewis Memorial Scholarship in 2010 and the Harrison-Thompson Bursary Trust in 2010.
“Darren contacted GoGeomatics and asked if he could start a group in Niagara. With that kind of passion how could we say no? The Niagara group was born. Darren has been the steward of the group for two years. He is a dedicated individual who shares his time and knowledge with those around him.”
-Jonathan Murphy – Managing Director GoGeomatics Canada