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Geospatial Artha Summit: Geo-info: Then and now

Geospatial Media & Communications organised Geospatial Artha Summit in New Delhi, India on September 24, 2012. The occasion was to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the world”s first map maker Gerardus Mercator, 50th anniversary of GIS that was first established in 1962 by Prof. Roger Tomlinson in Canada as a tool for natural resource management and land management in Canada, and the 15th anniversary of Geospatial Media & Communications. As the Sanskrit term “artha” refers to purpose, value, wealth and economy, the Summit explored these dimensions in the context of geospatial industry.

Integration with mainstream IT
Kapil Sibal, Minister, the Indian Minister for Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology, observed the geospatial industry had done fairly well over the years, with steady expansion and growth. But since technology had advanced at such a fast pace, geospatial industry today needs to integrate into mainstream information technology. It needs to take a holistic approach for future growth. Calling geosptial sector crucial for all aspects of the economy today, Sibal also called for free flow of data for public benefit and empowerment.

The beginnings
Peter Large , Vice President Channel Development of US geospatial giant Trimble traced the relevance of the pioneering efforts of Gerardus Mercator, the world”s first scientific mapmaker whose 500th anniversary was commemorated with this event. As the world today puts geospatial data to work to make the world more efficient, productive, safer and cleaner, it was Mercator”s printed maps that are among the earliest instances of making geospatial information accessible. Mercator”s legacy, observed Large, was to have spurred the utility and value of geospatial information.

Economic value proposition
Suresh Prabhu, Indian Parliamentarian and Former Union Minister touched upon the economy of the country and obversed that the problem of Indian economy lay in the fact that agriculture engaged two-third of the country”s population but contributed to only 16 per cent of the GDP. The challenge is the uplift of this segment of the population. It was here that geospatial technology can play a crucial role, he said. Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Department of Earth Sciences, showcased the economic value of oceans and the need for discovery, understanding and application of knowledge regarding oceans. MV Kotwal, Director and President (Heavy Engineering), Larsen & Toubro Ltd, said geospatial technology was being applied at L&T in applications like property and boundary, government/environment clearance, flora mapping, topography visualisation, shoreline monitoring programme, and property information system. CP Baid, Deputy MD, Monnet Ispat Energy Ltd, India discussed geospatial technology as an enabler in natural resources with least adverse ecological impact. Dr. NP Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, DESEIN Private Limited, India discussed the relevance of geospatial technology in the energy sector. Informing that the planned additional capacity in the 12th Five Year Plan is 75,785 MW, Gupta said geospatial technology could be beneficial in guiding and clearing projects, as well as in transmission and distribution.

Ola Rollen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hexagon Group, observed that it was one thing to create maps but the main issue was to make something meaningful out of it so that it could contribute to the society moving into the 21st century. He stressed that combining geospatial technology with real time information created new systems that helped to understand complex situations, resulting in huge economic benefits.

Dr. BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, Infotech Enterprises India, traced the globalisation of the geospatial industry over the last 20 years, providing a first-generation entrepreneur”s perspective on how Indian GIS companies contributed to globalisation of the geospatial industry.

Kees De Zeeuw, Director, Kadastre International, The Netherlands observed that buildings on any given piece of land were not always straightforward — there could be layered buildings, complex buildings, above buildings, and under buildings. The answer to better registration and visualisation was 3D cadastre.

Google”s Chief Technology Advocate Michael Jones highlighted the increasing involvement of non-professional, common people in creation of maps and the evolution of technology from being secretive to where everyone was involved, and where there was flooding of information. Dr. Kumar Navulur, Director, Next Generation Products, DigitalGlobe, USA said the industry needed to offer better quality, higher accuracy, complete coverage, fresher imagery, easier access, and should be economical.