Craig native Josh Lowe starts company that combines data and geography |

Craig native Josh Lowe starts company that combines data and geography

Brian Smith

Josh Lowe said starting a mapping business in the middle of an economic downturn may not have been the best timing.

But Lowe, owner of YampaGeo, a geographic information systems and mapping business, started his company in January because he wanted to capitalize on a need he saw in Northwest Colorado.

"There is a pretty good size void for local people that do strictly GIS mapping work," he said. "It may be a bad time to start a business, but it is not necessarily a bad time to start this business. If I wasn't going to do it, somebody else would."

What Lowe is doing is a combination of computer mapping similar to computer-aided design drafting, but he ties together geospatial information with database information.

"Anything you see can be put into a GIS map," Lowe said.

Lowe is a Craig native and 1997 Moffat County High School graduate.

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He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated with a bachelor's degree with majors in environmental studies and geography. He has worked for Routt and Archuleta counties, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service performing GIS work.

He also spent a year with the Craig-based surveying company, Epp & Associates.

But, Lowe wanted to start his own company and found a niche in what he called "intelligent" maps.

"Instead of having a flat map of features you are looking at, those features are intelligent in their characteristics and they can be analyzed or interact with one another," he said. "It is layers of information as opposed to a one-dimensional map."

Each of the layers Lowe places over a map can contain information connected to any number of data sets.

For instance, Lowe said, YampaGeo can serve a real estate company by mapping and providing specific information about properties.

Lowe can organize and represent information on property values, maintenance

history and which properties are vacant, rather than just plotting the properties on a map where those locations are.

"That kind of information is often contained in a non-mapped format," he said.

Ultimately, the kind of mapping and combination of information Lowe performs can make data management more efficient, he said.

So far, Lowe said he has had success with his business and has more work headed his way.

He recently completed a project with a land surveying company in Northeast Utah that serves the oil and gas industry.

One of the biggest client bases Lowe hopes to represent are local governments.

Rural governments have many land assets, Lowe said, but the information and maps relating to those assets may not be organized in an efficient manner.

"A lot of the data about land in counties is contained on paper or in CAD maps, but GIS systems can be united with that information to be more productive," he said.

Lowe said his business can also help cities with projects like waterline improvements.

He said he can use the locations of water lines and valves, and map them to include the materials being used, the size of the pipe, when it was put into service and when it was maintained.

Another unique aspect of GIS mapping is that information included in the map can be updated automatically as it is available, he said.

While Lowe's business represents a new avenue for mapping technologies, he said there is still a need for traditional surveying.

"People have been mapping things for years, and the surveyors do a really good job of mapping information super accurately, but there is also a need to add the intelligence behind that kind of mapping in some cases," he said.

But, traditional surveying isn't completely behind the curve, he said.

"A lot of surveying companies are starting to embrace GIS technology," he said.

All mapping technologies interact with one another, he said.

"There is a place for surveyors, CAD drafters, and there is a place for GIS," he said. "(GIS) can be kind of an umbrella around a lot of this stuff."

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or

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