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Features Editor's Picks We Are HERE

We are HERE: Tom Watson captures the world

At HERE, we’re digitizing the world on an ongoing basis, and at the same time refining and developing the apps and systems to allow us to do that ever more efficiently.

This week, our employee profile focuses on Tom Watson, Capture Systems Software Engineer at HERE Berkeley.

Tell us about your work at HERE

We build software that tracks, reports on and enables the collection of HERE mapping data across the globe. This requires us to work in a wide array of computing environments, including embedded robotics systems, Android mobile development, cloud-based distributed processing and full-stack web development. This also involves work around HERE’s focus on autonomous driving and the location context required to make autonomous driving a reality.

I primarily identify as a cartographer, building out intuitive mapping interfaces to explore our data and currently I’m learning about the team’s use of real-time stream processing to support that.

In the recent past, it was especially exciting to be a part of the Highly Autonomous Driving (HAD) effort and having that shape the direction of our work. As the integration team in the HAD projects, we get to work with many of the prototype and experimental efforts and also with the partners that HERE is working with in this field.

My area of work – capture – is one that is evolving rapidly because it has a built-in problem that we’re all trying to solve:

All mapping data and mapping representations are just approximate snapshots of reality at a moment in time. As soon as data is collected, it starts to become stale. It’s really exciting to be working towards a global self-healing map, one constantly being updated from a multitude of sources in near real-time!

What’s your background and how did you end up at HERE?

My cartographic career began at the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organization after I graduated from the Australian National University. In their graduate program, I learnt the essentials of imagery interpretation, geospatial analysis, and intelligence reporting.

As my career progressed, I honed in on cross-agency collaboration and fusing multiple streams of intelligence into a geospatial context. I moved to the California Bay Area to pursue a life-long dream: to play ultimate disc in the USA. In 2014 I was fortunate enough to join both a top-level Ultimate team here in the Bay, and a geospatial tech startup. Now in 2016, I’m excited to be part of a global scale mapping operation with HERE.

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And lastly – what do you do outside work?

Dancing, organizational change and youth mentorship are my current focuses. I’m joining the Stepping Stones Project here in the Bay and will be working over the next two to three years with eight boys as they transition through adolescence. I recommend checking out “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux for organizational change. And as for dancing, this is what it is like:

 

 

Living here in the Bay Area is amazing. Such a rare place to have so many of my different interests and passions converge!

For information about job openings in Berkeley click here.

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