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Business GIS to take off

Business GIS and GIS Business
BG the “Corporate Cousin” of GIS is an undernourished child as far as India goes. As we make a rehabilitation plan for the child to recuperate, we find lots of maladies, which has afflicted the child. On one side is low nourishment (the Data Problem) and on the other hand is the environment itself, so polluted with norms and regulations that the child suffocates in silence.

Business GIS is poised to take a leap internationally as the demands on GIS and the business on whole are fast changing. It is no longer just the routing problems. BG can take any one of the following “avatars”. As Lance McKee, vice president of corporate communications for Open GIS Consortium Inc. (OGC) said, “Users don’t want their spatial data off in some ‘GIS kitchen’.”

  • Data Warehousing
  • Data Mining
  • Data Visualisation
  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • E-Commerce

Mindset:- Maps have never been an integral part of the common man’s life in India. They have been restricted largely to the drawing boards of the Army Generals and geological survey organizations. Few maps that we come to see are the weather maps. Seldom do we find a common man referring to a street atlas or a road map for direction. Most of us prefer to ask the nearest paanwalla or a passerby for finding the right directions. Map reading is also not taught in schools for finding directions but restricted only to thematics and point data.

Awareness:- This is a finger we would like to point at ourselves, the industry and NGOs like CSDMS. We need to hold more awareness campaign to corporate as much as we spend on government agencies and bodies. It is like comparing two schools. One school chooses to have only the best students by having a high filtering and then announces 100% results and the other school which has students who are not aware of the subject but puts its efforts to give 50% results. Both are necessary for the system to survive.

“Addressing” Problem:- The core problem also starts with “Indian addresses”. The current form of Indian addresses does not lend itself to any form of analysis for using any of the international address matching tools. Every city and town have their own form of addressing. Developing an “Indian Address Matcher” is indeed a challenging task. We must evolve one easy, systematic way for providing address across the country. Afraid this is going to be one dream which would not come true and GIS has to find its own indigenous/ laborious ways to circumvent the same.

“Pin”ing Problem:- This is another hurdle. How to define a pin code region? How systematic has these been done? This is the key problem, which prevents GIS for performing micro level analysis. Even a good scale map providing just the various pin code as regions over a street map, would go a long way in accelerating the BG growth.

Nourishment Data problem:- Data problem is often the major culprit when it comes to growth of Business GIS. The problem is universal when it comes to any country outside U.S and Europe. Exception can be seen in places like Australia but again the cost of nourishment is not cheap.

Availability:- Often measured by the “scale” of the map, the more detailed Maps are not available for public use. This often throws a spanner in the works, as without such detailed maps it is impossible for the GIS to permeate into the Business arena. It often stays on the periphery and becomes more of a mere “visualization” or presentation tool.

Quality and “currency” of data:- Whatever data is available from private parties or government agencies, the quality in terms of accuracy and in terms of current updated status is largely questionable. Streets are found missing, new buildings and thus the changing landscapes are not updated.

Cost of data:- This is again forbidding. Only the elite can dream of having high resolution data if at all available. We must has lower cost of data by sharing data among various vendors and reduce overlapping areas of work. Other Life Support Systems (not just spatial data but plain business data) Demographic Data:- The census data needs to be more freely available and should come attached with geographic boundaries as an option from the department itself. This should available at whatever next micro level possible and not just restricted to the revenue district boundaries. Meaningful business decisions can only then be made using GIS effectively else this acts more as a frill to the existing analysis.

Consumption patterns:- The government can proactively release spatially enabled data for consumption pattern of various commodities, durable goods, etc., across the country. This would be great aid for business to base their decisions on, which is otherwise relying on third party research data which at best can only be a small sample data when compared to the huge data store that government has.

Spatial Enabling of the statistics cell:- This are areas if centrally invested the cost of data would be lower to the end user and also aid in the growth of GIS. Changing Data Needs
As Cellular companies and wireless in Local Loop start establishing themselves, and even government undertaking entering this business the data requirement is fast changing. It is just not the contours in term of heights of various natural points that is required. These agencies require individual building heights and floor space. This would mean different agencies coming in to provide data like the city development authorities and the municipal councils.

The traffic light is still indicating RED.
Minimum that we should do is to help in changing this to amber else the BG will continue to remain idle wasting precious opportunities and resources.