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GEO-Enabling Infrastructure


Ananya Ghosh,Dr. Satyaprakash


'The underlying foundation or basic framework along with the resources required for an activity', is how “Infrastructure” is defined conventionally (www.m-w.com). Over the years, the meaning has changed and today it ranges from social infrastructure to Information Technology infrastructure. Geospatial technologies find applications in almost all facets of infrastructural development since location is one of the important component. However, GIS is sparingly used for other applications apart from visualization, whether in India or elsewhere. The application software have matured over time and with mainstream software taking a leap in developing customized solutions for the infrastructure and utility sectors, use of geospatial technologies in infrastructure planning, design and construction has seen a quantum jump-from a mere visualization tool to sophisticated analysis like the one done by RITES to find alternate rail route in the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir (India). Although, we have been unable to cover all the other areas in which geospatial technologies are being used, for instance, telecommunications, infrastructure planning, energy transmission etc., we do hope to inform our readers about those in the subsequent issues of GIS Development.

Transport networks are commonly known as the lifeline of a country. A well connected transport network is extremely vital for the smooth functioning and security of any nation, be it a developing one (like India) or a developed one. India has a large population and a growing economy. Therefore, to transport goods and services from one point to another, a robust rail and road network is required. GIS is one tool that can be used for detailed planning of the transport network to improve connectivity and efficiency. The case studies presented here, highlight the importance of GIS, as an integral part of road and rail network planning and management in India.

Central Road Research Institute
Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) is working in the area of road and road transport sector particularly Road Development Planning and Management (RDPM) division is working on road development planning and management. Data based development on GIS platform is the priority of this division. The total number of GIS trained scientists in CRRI are fifteen who use softwares like Arc GIS, MapInfo, JT Maps etc. for the different projects.

The RDPM division is handling a project worth INR 100 million for data based development on a GIS platform for the Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways, Government of India. The detailed rural road development plan for the states of Bihar and Jharkhand have been developed using GIS. For this project, data was collected using the Network Survey Vehicle procured from ARRB which also has an installed GPS device (from Trimble). CRRI is in the process of collecting all kinds of data on road related parameters like, condition, roughness, shoulder width, pavement width, shoulder type, pavement type, junction details in each kilometre, bridge details in each kilometre etc. All that information will be compiled, analysed and then will be put into a GIS platform for visualisation. A query system will be generated to know about all these parameters for a particular kilometre of road. Thereafter, the entire data will be processed for development of maintenance and management plans for long term and short term basis, which will inform planners in the Ministry and also the road professionals regarding the cost of construction of a road, how to widen a road, why a particular road cannot be widened, what will be the traffic in particular stretches etc. This is the aim of this project. In case of states of Bihar and Jharkhand, CRRI had given detailed Rural Road Development Plan, where they have shown the connectivity of habitations starting from 500 population and above.







CRRI has done nine projects using GIS. They have used GIS for rural road network planning to provide urban facilities in rural areas. According to P.K Kanchan, Area Coordinator, RDPM Division, CRRI, if the entire rural road network is developed on a GIS along with the rural settlements detail, then the growth centres can be identified. Growth centres are the places where urban facilities can be located for easy accessibility to the rural population.

  • CRRI took a case study area of Laksar Block in Haridwar District, Uttaranchal, which comprised 100 villages. The villages were identified and the possible road networks were prepared showing the location of urban facilities. This project was sponsored by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
  • Another ongoing project is in Ghaziabad, where the satellite imageries are being procured to extract the data on roads and bridges to develop a critical bridge information system, where each bridge will have information about its condition, on a GIS platform. This project is also sponsored by DST.
  • CRRI had also used GIS for PWD (Public Works department) roads in Delhi, way back in 2004. CRRI had done a project evaluation for a maintenance and management system for Delhi roads for which they had collected all sorts of road related parameters and evaluated them. The organisation is basically using GIS to provide a query based platform.
  • A High Priority Transport Corridor map has been created on a 1:25,000 scale, for the Ring Road in Delhi for maintenance management, on a GIS. The project report data was created in a CAD environment and then converted into a GIS platform using toposheet as reference and then all the relevant network data was attached to the platform so that it can be used anytime for maintenance planning.
  • Under the 11th Five Year Plan, a policy has been initiated by Ministry of Surface Transport that GIS will be made a part of the database along with online mapping and attribute data. This will be implemented all over India at 1:20,000 scale, but there are certain criteria. In plain areas, 1000 and above population will be connected by 2009. In hilly areas, 500 population and above villages will be connected by 2009 under the Bharat Nirman Programme. For this, topomaps have already been identified. Now, these maps will be converted into a GIS platform to enable online monitoring and management. This will allow a transparent system to emerge wherein people will get to know which road is being constructed and in which year, how much fund has been allocated for a particular stretch of road etc. One can generate his/her own query system within a GIS. So, the benefit is to bring together geospatial technologies like GPS and GIS to provide live data to the people.
  • CRRI uses the Network Survey Vehicle to take videograph of the sides and the pavements. The work has already been done on 3000 km of national highways. Since, it is synchronised with GPS, now one can see live data. One just has to click on the map to get the data related to a particular kilometre of a road. It will give all the relevant road related parameters as well as the side view, surface view and exact coordinates.
  • CRRI is also mapping 50,000 km of roads in India and bringing it into a GIS environment. Once it is done, it will be useful for future generations in the years to come. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is also using GIS in their work. They are going to cover the complete length of national highways under the National Highway Development Programme. All of this data will not only be put in a GIS platform but will also be supplemented by satellite imageries. NHAI will cover 15,000 km of national highway mapping within a GIS. Thus, 75,000 km road data will be available on GIS platform. Within a few years, one will be able to get substantial information on roads in India, all of which will be available online on a WebGIS platform. Thus, in the coming years, GIS is going to play a very vital role in the road and transport sector.

National Highways Authority of India
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is currently working on the Road Information System (RIS), which is an online system for highway maintenance and management. It includes collection of ground data, followed by generation of a system to maintain this database. The main aim of this project is to maintain the whole database of Indian National Highways.

In RIS, there are ten core modules and three support modules along with an economic modelling software called Highway Development Management (HDM – IV). RIS is supported by the Oracle Spatial 9i database. The data from the RIS database is directly picked up by HDM to generate economic models for planning, budgeting and maintenance. For map generation, Autodesk Map3D is used and for publishing data through web GIS interface, Autodesk Map Guide is used. The application has been customised on Microsoft .Net platform.

RIS has about 300 different kinds of attributes for each kilometre of a road. Most of the latest data on Golden Quadrilateral and North South-East West corridors based on detailed project reports have been populated. NHAI also undertakes exercises for:

  • Regular updation of data in RIS, including the collection of periodic pavement and traffic parameters apart from deriving inputs from remote sensing and GIS
  • Enabling generation reports suitable for decision making.

Presently, the highways community is using inputs from GIS at different levels and various stages of alignment, design and construction of highways. The advent of RIS will be beneficial to the road highways sector as it is expected to provide varied data on different highway related parameters.
RIS can be accessed over the web at www.nhai-ris.org.