Eight Years ago I had the opportunity to interview Antonio Locandro. We met over Twitter and I decided to interview him. This was also the first “Dual Language” interview we did as Antonio was kind enough to translate everything I asked to Spanish.
From 2015 Antonio’s final comment to the Geohipster crowd was “Choose the right tool for the job. That may just happen to be open source or not, and you can even mix them if that’s the best solution. Sometimes is difficult to get out of the comfort zone, but learning new things make you a better professional. Experience hands on with different ways to accomplish the same task and go past pushing buttons. GeoHipster in a sense is just that — going beyond the traditional way things are done in GIS.“
Antonio – when we last spoke 8 years ago you were working for an air service provider in Honduras provind GIS data and maps for airports in Honduras. How have you been doing?
Well a lot has changed in these eight years, since we last spoke I have now left my old job in 2019 and since 2020 have my own company called FLYGHT7 still within the aeronautical/aviation niche where I have been involved since 2008. Initially I planned to move abroad to Italy due to my heritage but settled on returning to my birth home at least for the time being after just a few months.
From the minute I decided to go on my own I was a remote worker and this proved quite versatile with the whole COVID thing as I was kind of used to it and I could just continue working from home rather than being in a need to go into an actual office. I kind of keep thinking what the best balance would be for my own company, for the most part I still believe remote is the way to go but for sure there are some instance where on occasion having some sort of onsite presence is good, for this and other reasons I settled on having a space at a local Coworking hub where I can have meetings, training events and if I ever required it to also have a desk where I can work from.
Things are picking up quite nicely, got a certification as an approved Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) from my local government which means that we have oversight, there are several potential clients interested in getting to know more about how QGIS can be leveraged within their organization for aviation purposes and I have been exploring adding field collection into the mix plus other few surprises for the next months but still not in liberty to disclose.
How is being an independent contractor? Your company is called FLYGHT7 I believe?
I don’t know if I can be called really an independent contractor since I look at myself more of a startup in the aeronautical information management (AIM) and Instrument Flight Procedure Design (IFPD) space which happens to use geographic information systems (GIS) as a tool to help out carry out the services we provide. However, one thing is completely different from my previous time as an 8-5 employee and that is that I continuously need to be looking out for potential clients in order to keep the leads fresh to be able to close more contracts. I am extremely lucky I guess that I was able to have a good network of clients, interested parties and colleagues which proves invaluable to be able to get new work.
I usually see a lot of backlash against social media and some sites specifically geared towards business connections but honestly I have found those crucial to get word out of what I do and how I can help out solve problems. Keeping an online social media presence and specially your own content hosted in your own websites/blogs can be the difference between getting a job or not.
Anyway I have had a lot of requests over the last couple of years about QGIS training that I have finally decided to take the plunge and get the QGIS certification which will serve the purpose of providing quality training including a certificate from the QGIS project and also give back to the project with each certificate provided. I am also looking into funding directly a couple of features that will benefit the QGIS community specially those working with layouts/printing/tables and finally I am being a big advocate on using QGIS for aviation purposes replacing other proprietary software and I am determined to produce an alternative open source aviation solution for both aeronautical charting and instrument flight procedure design, I am at the moment starting out with some proof of concept scripts and signed up for some python classes in order to create a small plugin that will hopefully be the start of a future crowdfunding campaign to make this dream become a reality.
So you live in Tegucigalpa and are currently in Singapore for work. What’s the best thing about both cities?
What can I say, Singapore is a great city to visit and has a ton of activities that you can do and enjoy. Sure it is an expensive city if you do all the tourist stuff but you can manage quite well if you think and act more like a local. I definitely enjoy the safety and the really great public transportation in Singapore plus the amazing food that you can eat at the local food stalls which they call Hawker Centers. As with any cosmopolitan city you will find multicultural things to eat, do and enjoy, I think that going at night by the Marina Bay would be one of the most touristy things you can do with the Marina Bay Sands hotel in the background and the Super Grove Trees plus the Merlion. If you are ever in Singapore definitely try the Chili or Black Pepper Crab or the Hainanese chicken rice, you can also have very good Malay Nasi Lemak and Indian foods like the Pratha or Tandoori Chicken Tikka, as a multicultural city you won’t have any problems finding all type of foods either from around the world.
Tegucigalpa probably the best feature of it is that is where I was born and raised, it is close to a few places where you can enjoy the outdoors if you are into that kind of thing like hiking La Tigra, or going to nearby colonial towns of San Juancito, Santa Lucia or Valle de Angeles. Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras which is the country where I live and like any big city you will definitely encounter some traffic chaos and political stuff that drives every day matters but if you go past those things you may enjoy some local foods like “carnitas” (charcoal BBQ beef, pork or chicken, have a baleada (like a burrito with mashed beans) or some other local delight.
What stack of GIS software are you using these days? Last time we spoke you had a healthy mix of Closed and Open Source
I have completely transitioned to open source software, I won’t lie and say cost was not one of the initial factors for doing this as a bootstrapped startup. I can’t waste money on stuff I don’t need or will use very few times. Aviation usually requires some specialized software which normally is built on top of Autocad, Microstation or ESRI products but I have found over time that QGIS can fulfill all of the requirements at a fraction of the cost, whoever tell you that opensource does not requires an investment is not telling you the whole truth. Yes, you will not have to pay license fees for one but you will still need training, development hours, probably fund features, etc. The difference is that with the same amount of money you can probably extend it to do a lot more things and you can provide access to anyone to it without being bounded by some license agreement.
These days I mostly use QGIS and PostGIS/GeoPackage for doing all the aeronautical charting part and procedure design aka (PANS OPS) and I combine it with spreadsheets for doing some calculations while I can learn enough python and JS to move it to an integrated solution developed in QGIS. I still think that you should use whatever software stack is the best option/solution for your use case be that closed, open or a mix.
You get the last bit of space on here – Anything you want to tell the geohipster readers?
The scene has changed a lot over the years, geohipster readership changed, I have changed, stuff has changed. Change in itself is not bad but I do miss a lot of the people I used to interact and get knowledge from in the different platforms. Many of them just burnt out from having too much work, some others excited the Geo realm and went to do something else and others are just trying to migrate to the next social media stuff for many reasons. The fragmentation of the geo space is something that I feel is happening and keeping up with the community feels now very complicated.
I don’t have an answer to the whole dismantling of where people are heading to but I just hope that others starting out in this space would have the same opportunities I had to get to develop their skills from listening to global leaders in the space. It is such a shame that new folks trying to learn things specially from less privileged places have a harder time getting access to content which I could find easily. Hope there is a solution in the near future to this.