Fascinated by the ability to use technology to tell stories, Senior UI/UX Designer and Mapbox guru Phil James has built his career, bringing to life everything from museum exhibits to complex urban infrastructure projects. In a fast-paced world where technology develops at a rate where it can be hard to keep up, we caught up with Phil to see what trends and technologies will connect projects with communities in 2023.
What are the technology trends that you think we will see in 2023 in community engagement?
There are many macro-trends buzzing about in the technology space these days that will obviously get a lot of attention. Think Metaverse or advancements in AI. But I think that more and more government bodies and companies will be looking to leverage simple, reusable and UX-friendly solutions in community engagement.
Digital community engagement is growing around the world, and the best way for organizations to begin integrating these products into their daily life is by using approachable, simple mapping and survey products to engage their audience.
I think our Work Activity Notification Tool will become a key product in our growth as a company, as it is one of the few user-facing GIS products on the market that can be used by virtually any organization for any type of infrastructure project.
What excites you most about the way technology can be used to support community engagement?
Strong community engagement can have a global ripple effect. Feedback about a project in rural Australia, for example, can help a global construction firm or government agency in another part of the world take a new approach to a major problem.
Secondly, technology can personalize community engagement. Many of our projects can provide unique information about the effects of a project on your neighborhood and your property using advancements in GIS technology.
What is your go-to piece of technology or software that you can’t live without?
As a GIS specialist, I think that Mapbox is the future of the industry. If ESRI were the pioneers, Mapbox will be the killer app that will open the world to the potential of digital mapping.
What types of infrastructure projects do you enjoy bringing to life the most?
Projects that tackle major hurdles in urban planning and sustainable urban development are always a joy to work with. Not only do I learn about the particular challenges of designing for a city like Brisbane, Melbourne or Toronto, but I also learn about the challenges all cities face in providing joyful and efficient means of transportation to their people.
How did you build your career in development and design?
I first learned about the potential of digital storytelling at The Berkeley School of Journalism, where I covered topics such as the environment, urban planning and ecology and met dozens of world-class journalists who were literally changing the world using digital tools.
From there, I developed further skills in mapping and user engagement at Myseum of Toronto, where I helped create a series of digital exhibits highlighting some critical pieces of the city’s history that were virtually unknown to everybody.