'Living as a student at UC is very dynamic...'
Studying towards a Master of Geographic Information Science
Volunteer, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Jakarta, Indonesia
Having worked for several years in mapping projects for disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, Malawi and his home country Indonesia, Emir has a long-held passion for Geographic Information Science. After receiving a New Zealand-ASEAN Scholarship to fund postgraduate studies, he chose to attend UC to contribute even more to disaster efforts.
'UC fulfilled all my needs as a student. There are lecturers with various backgrounds, great resources, and great people as well. There is also number of support to help with my study and my well-being. Last but not least, it is located in Christchurch (the garden city) which is the gateway to adventures in South Island. Living as a student at UC is very dynamic.
'Each country is unique in terms of their landscapes and cultures, but New Zealand is more unique because sometimes people forget to put this country on the world map! Other reasons are New Zealand has a strong political relationship with my home country (Indonesia) and of course…. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit!'
Emir's work with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) involves training and assisting people in the use of disaster mapping in various regions, using the open source software the company maintains. Emir still works with the company on a remote volunteer basis alongside his master's research.
'Geographic Information Science (GISc) is the foundation of science that studies data capture, data store, data management, data analysis, and data visualisation with spatial or geographic information. I have been fascinated by the emerging of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and with their various applications, specifically in environmental and disasters management.'
His master's research in particular looks at the potential for volunteer or crowdsourcing geographic mapping during natural disasters, to assist with the recovery processes and response in those areas. His particular focus is on Jakarta's flood management.
'GISc is important knowledge and underlies GIS, which is incredibly beneficial for various purposes. However, there are people (specifically in Indonesia) who are unfamiliar with them even though they are actually using them in their daily life (eg, Google Maps),' Emir says. 'My goal is trying to promote GISc and GIS (specifically open source tools) so people realise their existence and maximise their potentials to solve the problems.'
Studying at UC in particular is something Emir has thoroughly enjoyed, and his research will hopefully have far-reaching improvements on disaster mapping due to its connections.
'I really enjoying my current master's research as I found out it has never been done before in Jakarta and it is also related with my previous work experiences. There are heaps of friendly and knowledgeable people around the Geography department who are able to assist me to pursue my MGIS degree, which is the first kind in New Zealand.
'In addition, MGIS programme at UC also works in conjunction with Victoria University Wellington (VUW) and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), so I am also able to interact with students from other universities.'
Emir was also able to take the internship course GISC415 for some extra work experience in his area of expertise.
'I wanted to experience the working culture in New Zealand. I was working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and was involved in the Nature Heritage Fund (NHF) booklet project. I was really happy when I got the final booklet and saw my name in the acknowledgement page.'
He has also been involved with the student tramping club and the Postgraduate Student Association outside of studying. Emir has also made the most of the Academic Skills Centre, who are 'really helpful and improve my academic writing'.
Emir initially stayed at Sonoda Apartments when he first came to UC, which was a great way to introduce him to life in Christchurch.
'Accommodation staff are helpful, and they have several community events to support my study and well-being such as postgrad seminars, free breakfasts, and movie nights. It was a good experience for people who arrived for the first time to UC to know the surroundings before deciding to go flatting,' he says.
Because of how expansive Geographic Information Sciences is as a field, Emir hopes to have a future career that will see him exploring and mapping other regions.
'I would like to be a freelance GIS project consultant, where I could jump from project to project, doing different GIS-related work in different themes and places. It really helps me to keep learning, possibly gain new skills, and get a chance for me to travel around new places.'