A novel concept introduced and organised by Geospatial Media & Communications in association with the Department of Information Technology (DIT), the 10-city Geospatial Technology Caravan was held in India recently. The Caravan began its journey in Guwahati on September 19 and travelled to Kolkata, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Patna, Chennai, Mumbai, Bhopal, Jaipur and finally reached Thiruvananthapuram on October 21. Here is a snapshot of the topics discussed during the Caravan.
E-Governance: Talking about National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), Dr Subir Roy, Principal Consultant and Head, Government of West Bengal, said, “NeGP comprises 27 mission mode projects (MMPs), which are to be implemented at the central, state and local government level. NeGP also aims to set up State Data Centre (SDC), State Wide Area Network (WBSWAN), State Portal – Banglarmukh, State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) and Common Service Centres.”
Challenges: Dr Nivedita P. Haran, Addl. Chief Secretary, Revenue & Disaster Management, Kerala, India, spoke about hindrances for the growth of geospatial industry in India. “Lack of awareness about technology among government officials is one major cause. Then there are vested interests and/or lack of open-mindedness regarding adoption of the technology,” she explained.
Data sharing: Talking about the need for agencies to share data among them, Dr Santhosh Babu, Secretary, Department of IT, Tamil Nadu said, “There is a need for an agency which can take care of coordinating activities between various departments working in silos at present.” Similar view was expressed by Anurag Srivastava, OSD, Additional Secretary, DIT, Madhya Pradesh, who spoke about DIT’s collaboration with various departments in the State to develop a centralised platform. ”
Forest management: Tamil Nadu Forest Department has successfully incorporated GIS in almost all activities of its organisation – be it database creation, coastal zone vegetation or vegetation change detection/ analysis or identifying forest fire risk zones. Madhya Pradesh too had its own success story to share.
Urban planning: “GIS has become an inseparable component of urban planning and sooner or later all organisations will have to adapt the technology for better and more efficient functioning,” noted H.S. Sancheti, Director (Town Planning), Jaipur Development Authority. He said that all 184 towns in the State of Rajasthan will soon have master plans.
Disaster management: “It is high time that we get serious about disaster preparedness,” observed Anil Kumar Sinha, Vice Chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. Citing Japan’s example, he said that Japan has developed state-of-the-art disaster management system using geospatial technology.
Student woes: Dr Smita Sengupta, Research Scientist, IIT Mumbai, talked about the relationship between computer science engineering and GIS. Highlighting students’ problems, she said that dealing with geospatial database is one of the toughest tasks for computer science students. Anjana Vyas, Professor and Dean, CEPT University, raised the issue of students not being employed as per their qualifications.
The Caravan offered an excellent opportunity for the participating companies to display their offerings before the gathering. The presentation by Intergraph showed how GIS can be used in various fields such as town planning, communications, public safety, transport, natural disaster management and better governance. DigitalGlobe showed how the company’s high-resolution satellite imagery can help organisations in meeting the demands of better governance. Pitney Bowes displayed its GIS capabilities and informed the gathering about its huge product line, like Mapinfo Exponare, Mapinfo Discover Suite for natural resource management and Mapinfo Crime Profiler. HP talked about large format printers and cloud-based initiatives which enable users to send their documents through email to HP printers based on the cloud and get print outs.