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Ravi Gupta For ages the geographic information producing organisations have concentrated on geographic data generation, storage ande maintenance. And then they end up finding reasons and ways for not distributing the data (or even the metadata). Of course there are security concerns in disemmination of topographic data for public use, but there are examples to prove that whenever a set of data is not security sensitive, then also, the so called ‘elitist’ or ‘exclusive’ mentality organisations think that their value gets diluted if these datasets are offered for public use.

An Indian state, Karnataka, is showing new way of doing things. The state which is known for the Silicon Valley of India, its capital Bangalore, is now boasting of a computerised land record programme. This programme is being offered through hundreds of kiosks spread all over the state, through which people are able to access the legal records of their land. The task that used to take weeks and months for the villagers, after paying hefty bribes to the touts, is now taking effortless 15 minutes. The system uses bio-metrix finger print reader technology to authenticate users, which is cheap, secure and easy to use for the villagers. This programme is becoming popular and other states are now planning to replicate it.

Now what propels other states to show interest in this programme? The project is benefiting the masses directly. They save time, money and an important need of their life is served through the programme. If the masses are happy, winning elections becomes a much easier proposition for politicians. That ensures bureaucratic support for the project.

Can we imagine a similar disemmination programme for other topographic and spatial data? Not really. Most of the organizations dealing with spatial data generation, storage and maintenance are shackled in the security and ‘elitist’ mindset. Dissemination of topographical and other spatial data is last on their agenda.

Will it ever become the first? signature
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