Get to know Propeller’s world-class team in our ongoing employee spotlight. Today, we talk to Hayley Distler, who serves as a GIS specialist on the data team. Hayley is based in our Denver, Colorado, office.
What do you do at Propeller?
One part of my job is making sure everything looks correct with image settings and ground control points when users upload their images. I’m the real pair of eyes that goes over all the data quality assurance for your 3D site surveys. I’m also one of the people who you’ll be talking with if you’ve got an issue with your upload or your survey. I’m the first line of defense for customers’ data problems.
What’s your career background?
I have my bachelor’s degree in environmental science, where I focused on geography. After I graduated, I worked for the United States Geological Survey for two years working on remote sensing and photogrammetry projects that looked at both hi- and low-res satellite imagery. These projects mostly focused on wetland mapping and wildfire burn detection. After that, I worked for a civil engineering and survey firm and started working with drone-collected data for the first time. Then I came to Propeller.
Where did you grow up?
Millburn, New Jersey, which is about 45 minutes outside of New York City.
Before working at Propeller, what’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve held?
I worked at a wilderness camp in Upstate New York for a number of summers. This place had no electricity or running water. I was a dishwasher on a team with two other people. We had to wash dishes for a hundred people three times a day. We had a dishwashing station run by propane, so we had to wake up early and get that propane-powered dish sterilizer running every day. I was the “scraper,” the one who initially scraped all the scraps off the dishes. So, yeah, I was a professional dishwasher.
What’s your favorite Propeller memory?
I spent my first three weeks at Propeller doing onboarding at our Sydney office. So, while I was very jet-lagged my first day off the plane and coming into the office, it was so memorable to be there to start this new job.
Any talents, secret superpowers, or fun facts about yourself to share?
My fun fact is that I was in a life insurance commercial when I was five years old. I had to sit on the steps of a playground and didn’t have any lines.
I’m also a runner and have done the Colfax Marathon here in Denver.
If you could be any piece of technology, what would you be and why?
I’d want to be a satellite. There are a lot of different kinds, but I’d want to be a geosynchronous satellite, which means I’d orbit and look down at the same spot on earth every day.
I really like the idea of observing the same area to see changes over time. It’d be like when you take a short video every day and then put them together at the end of the year and watch a year-long time lapse. This is actually the sort of thing that’s my favorite part of the Propeller Platform—when you get to see the final 3D survey and can observe changes over time in our timeline slider.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Probably a photographic memory.
Do you have an office nickname? If so, what is it and how did you get it?
What’s one thing you wish people understood better about your job?
That’s a great question. I want people to understand how intricate data success is. It’s so much more than finding GCPs on the screen. Though, there’s a lot of science behind even that. I have to understand what the GCP is in a particular survey and locate GCPs in the image data. Sometimes a dataset isn’t complete and GCPs are missing or hard to find. That’s when I get to be a detective and go looking at historical data from a site in the Platform and investigate what’s going on. Basically, even for things that seem simple when it comes to processing drone survey data, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.