Prof. Arup Dasgupta
Do you remember the last time you visited your bank? Chances are you do not, because online banking, just like online shopping and online payments, has eliminated the need for visiting the banks physically or even exchange physical objects like bank notes. In the event that you do need these physical objects, there are the ubiquitous Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) around the corner. In short, the banking world has embraced electronics and communications in a way that has made banking operations easy and efficient. What is the next step? The next disruptive technology to hit the banking industry is the power of ‘G’ — geospatial technology.
But what has geospatial got to do with bankers? A lot, apparently. In a series of articles, case studies and interviews in this edition, we look at the emergence of geospatial applications in the financial sector, from credit card and bank frauds, to tracking consignments and prices, looking at suitable locations of bank branches and profiling areas based on customer preferences. Such applications are not just about maps and remote sensing but about using these as tools along with others like Big Data analytics, data warehousing and artificial intelligence to help non-traditional application areas like banking. For example, Big Data analytics is needed to extract patterns from a huge number of transactions over time and space to winkle out the fraudulent ones; for example, the use of the same credit card in different geographical locations at the same time.
Another disruptive technology that is making waves and is covered in this edition is Laser Scanning. Since the early ’90s, when the first Airborne Laser Scanners made their appearance, the technology has grown and matured manifold, and so have the applications. Laser scanning has also found use in terrestrial applications. Major applications in urban modelling, terrain analysis, engineering, heritage preservation and crime forensics have introduced a new dimension in data capture and analysis. Here too, integration with conventional imagery has resulted in unique applications as well as enhancement of existing applications. As I write this, India’s PSLV has put into orbit France’s SPOT-7 and four other satellites from Canada, Germany and Singapore. In a stirring address to the Space community delivered after the successful launch, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the importance of space technology and technology in general for the benefit of humanity and in particular, the developing nations. He has proposed a SAARC satellite to serve all the SAARC nations. Of interest to our community is the importance given to the geospatial technologies, which is an indication of the market opportunities likely to open up in this region.