Using tech to get rid of the ‘clunk’
Grant Moss – Market Analyst
When people are online, they expect a fast, modern and interactive experience. Data needs to be shared visually using charts and maps. I mean, when was the last time you actually stopped to read a webpage full of text?
The next generation of readers want easy-to-digest tidbits served up in a mobile-friendly experience.
Enter Grant Moss: CER Market Analyst turned software developer. Grant began his CER journey as a summer student in 2017. After earning his Bachelor of Commerce Degree, he joined on a more long-term basis as a Market Analyst with the Energy Market team. He soon realized there was room to improve the way we share data and technology at the CER.
“We gather a vast amount of data at the CER as part of our normal operations,” said Grant, who is passionate about using technology to improve the way things work. “It became clear to me early on that we needed to find a way to unpack and communicate our data in a way that resonates with Canadians.”
It wouldn’t be long before Grant’s innovative work on the CER’s Pipeline Profiles tool would do just that.
In 2019, Grant started a new job on the Pipeline Information Team, which was a pivotal moment for him. “Moving to a new team with a forward-thinking leader completely changed everything about my work,” said Grant.
Armed with an idea and a desire to improve how data could be used, he took a big risk and made his pitch: to update Pipelines Profiles with safety and environmental information using open-source data and visual components like interactive maps.
“I explained to managers why our current software had problems. That our efforts to expand web hits in remote communities would fail because slow load times would continue to make our products unusable and untrustworthy,” he says.
Grant demonstrated how the updated tech solutions could solve those problems, improve Pipeline Profiles and save money. “Java Script is optimized for mobile and performs well with slow internet connections in remote communities. We naturally increase trust and confidence because our work is fully visible to anyone,” says Grant.
His pitch was enthusiastically approved and work began to create a highly-customized product that would provide users with an unprecedented level of access.This was only the starting point.
To modernize the tool so that it would speak to the average Canadian, the team would need to start with the basics. Grant began by combing through Excel spreadsheets. For weeks, his days were filled with rows and columns and numbers and variables.
“I knew I could take that data and turn it into something meaningful,” he says, adding that the work was tedious, but worthwhile. “I was really focused on giving our users perspective on what was happening on a specific pipeline and showing incident location on a map.”
Grant is the first to admit he got discouraged by the scope of the project at times. However, his humility and ability to rise above his limitations drove him to keep going.
This version may be a big step forward, but the team is not done.
“This project is highly iterative. We are constantly building on new layers, improving the code and adding new functionality. The best part is we’re getting feedback directly from CER staff and Canadians so we know where to focus our work.”
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