Teresa Japsen: Social geography expert helps festival goers and people’s gathering

selfie of a woman in front of a smart board screen. Teresa Albeck Japsen (TEJ)

The social community at work is an important element for GIS consultant Teresa Japsen, founder and chairman of the Young & Hopeful association. When not creating mud maps for the Roskilde Festival, she is busy preparing geodata for regions, municipalities, and companies.

After high school, Teresa Japsen was in a state of confusion: What on earth should be her next study area? A Geography flyer from Copenhagen University was the turning point. The mixture of “weather and welfare state” spoke to her, and still does. The many different tasks related to geodata and GIS - Geographic Information System - give Teresa a many-faceted workday.

Teresa works as a GIS consultant at NIRAS in Allerød where she was hired in 2011 after first having worked as a student assistant during her Geography studies. During the day, she works with geodata in everything from elevation to municipal models, and she is also the founder and chairman of the Young & hopeful association.

What are the most amusing projects you have worked on?

”The last couple of years, I have developed the so-called mud maps for the Roskilde Festival. They show you where in the camping area there is the greatest risk of having your tent flooded by rainwater, something I developed when I was going to the festival myself. It is amusing to see the enormous interest shown by thousands of festival goers who want to see where they should - and especially should not - pitch their tents in case of rain. I have also helped provide the organisers of the people’s gathering on Bornholm with the digital platform KortInfo, giving them an overview of which stalls offer toilet facilities, use open fire, or have disabled parking - all on a tablet computer.

What does your engagement with the association Young & hopeful give you?

I took the initiative to Young & hopeful when I, as a new hire, found myself in the position of not knowing anyone other than the closest colleagues in my department. In Young & hopeful I find an informal and mostly young community where you can meet across departments, whether you work at the front desk or as a project manager. In Allerød alone we have more than 160 members. In addition to the socialising I have also expanded my work-related network. Last year, for example, I did assignments for 10 different departments. It is quite enjoyable to become involved in other projects.

When did you know that you wanted to work as a consulting engineer?

During my studies, I quickly realised that I wanted to work for a firm of consulting engineers. GIS is a very wide field and covers everything from architecture to road networks and water, and I wanted to work with many different tasks, not just, say, nature, if I had taken a job with the Nature Agency. So getting a job with NIRAS was perfect for me. Here, I have job variety and over time I have only become more sure that I have ended up in the right place.

What motivates you in your work?

It is very satisfying that what I do is used in the real world and that decisions are made based on something I have produced. At the same time it is interesting to deal directly with clients. When you go to visit a client for 7 hours, it is almost like being back in one’s exams. You really get tested on your knowledge in that situation.