Ravi Gupta

Lo and behold, as this copy gets into your hand, this year is slowly coming to an end and bringing in the new hopes and aspirations of the new year.

If I were to pick one event which has hit the Geographic Information community (perhaps positively) in a big way this year, it would be Google. The googly of Google was hard to tackle for all the sections of the society. Some of the government ducked it, some played it well, and some got clean bowled. But the verdict is clear: Google Earth is here to stay. Better learn to live with it.

This year was also the year of disasters. Katrina, Pakistan Earthquake, floods in Mumbai, bird flu, all kept citizens on their toes. As the disaster strikes, everyone starts searching the GIS guys and starts asking questions like: Why can’t you help us? There is no straight answer. There is a yawning gap of collaboration between the Disaster Management and the GIS community. And the worst part of this is that both these communities are mostly controlled by the government in developing countries and they thrive in working in secrecy. This helps no one. The common citizen is doomed to suffer in this situation when a disaster strikes.

Government of India, announced a new liberal map policy, at last. But ask any one from the GIS community, if he has benefited from it, and you will hear a hearty laugh. Its high time that the governments stop making jokes on common citizens!

All said and done, the GIS and Remote Sensing industry is again hitting the growth curve after the dot com doom recession in 2001. But alas, thanks to myopic government policies regarding the map data sharing, GIS usage growth in an IT savy country like India, is still in the Stone Age. The larger policy making community in the government, private and the NGO sector is not able to take advantage of the power of GIS technology for basic human needs of education, health, disaster management food etc.

If I were to summarise this year for the GIS user in India with these lines:

    “Kisi ne bhi to na dekha nigaah bhar ke mujhe Gaya phir aaj ka din bhi udaas kar ke mujhe”

    (No one gave me the attention, I deserved… Another day has gone by, making me sad…)

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