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GIS for Growth

Kapil Sibal
Minister of Science & Technology
and Earth Sciences
Government of India

Q. With the release of National Map Policy last year, how do you think the scenario has changed?

A GIS is a kind of generic technology that can be used for various developmental purposes such as disaster management, infrastructure management, etc. It allows the systematic development by taking into account the existing environment of the area. It also allows information access to people and stakeholders involved in the developmental processes. So, GIS can change the nature of planning for developmental purposes that includes projects as setting up of power plants, traffic and water management, etc.

Q. With the Government of India’s thrust on infrastructure, how do you see the role of mapping agencies like SoI and NATMO?

A Survey of India (SOI) have plans for this sector mainly through public private partnerships. The first challenge in such a process is preparation of maps on scales 1:25,000 , 1:10,000 and even 1:2,000 with updated information. With high resolutions it is possible to look into minute areas. If you consider the infrastructure in Delhi with an example of laying down electric cables connecting houses through cable network or water management or delivery systems, if maps are available at scale 1:2000, then the whole process can be formed in a systematic, productive manner.

The present challenge with government is how to get the maps at that level and how to put them into public domain and user agencies to use maps and then to develop private public partnerships in which NGO’s and other private enterprises can play a role.

Q. Does Ministry of Science and Technology have any plans to promote Indian GIS industry in providing global solutions?

A Absolutely without doubt. This is going to be a new area of FDI , a new area for foreign exchange earning. First thing is that the data has to be collected, then one can think of how to use that data with public private partnerships. Because it is not so easy, the Survey Of India cannot move forward directly without having man power and machinery to do all these, especially at national and international scales. What the government will do is to provide data, set up systems, give necessary guidelines. Then it can allow the industry to move forward. For such an improvement one can consider an example of a project going on in Bangalore.

Q. How beneficial will be the initiatives of MoST as acting patron to events like Map World Forum to the GeoSpatial community?

A The geospatial community should know what the Ministry of Science and Technology intends to do; what kind of scale of maps is needed for public domain; what is there in the public domain; what may not be there in the public domain, etc. with reference to security concerns for some parts of India that cannot be mapped or other national interests. We have the President’s views as the guidelines for an approach whereby creating Virtual Earth for India for easy access to its citizens in a time bound manner with suitable policies and adequate security mechanism is planned.

So, Map World Forum is a platform where the government can inform people and industry what it is intending to do and then bounce the ideas of the industry to meet its expectations to move forward in the direction of improvement with good relationships.

Q. How did urban planning get benefited from pilot projects like 3D mapping of Chandni Chowk area through latest technology like laser mapping?

A One such pilot project is successful, it gained attention of stakeholders from various regions and they realized that how important it is to have 3D mapping for developmental purposes. With present pilot project government will pay greater attention to make 3D mapping a norm in the infrastructure developmental projects. Suppose if traffic management is needed to be maintained efficiently, or if there is a heavy rain or if there is a flood, the technology can exactly inform people which roads are blocked and which roads and areas will be inundated and where to move about.

Q. What was the objective of map data delivery through Internet, if the Internet license does not allow publishing map data above 1 million scale?

A All the issues related to high resolutions will be addressed as the technology advances. Scaling of maps should be done at high resolution. The Ministry has plans to provide the high resolution maps but for now it has been started with basic data collection.

Q. The ministry proposed car navigation systems during 2004, what is the status of introducing car navigation systems in India?

A During 2004 the ministry proposed car navigation systems. Currently, a huge portion of the systems development and integration work is done by subsidiaries of multinationals, which have their software development centers in India. The availability of digitized maps is the basic necessity in placing car navigation systems. Digital mapping may require aerial surveying, as terrestrial surveying cannot provide the level of accuracy is required for such navigation systems. So, it will take some time in introducing such systems. But the government is definitely going to introduce car navigation systems, first in Delhi, and then it will be extended to other cities.

Q. With reference to new map policy, aerial photography relaxation, formation of NSDI, how do you foresee the GIS industry 4-5 years down the lane?

A After five years the industry will become matured with the administration realising value of GIS technology for all developmental purposes. As far as aerial photography is concerned, the guidelines will be framed after discussions over security concerns. The data will be collected with the collaboration of concerned Ministry. The data will be ours and will be allowed to be used the way we want.

Q. How are the educational institutions, private industry and government working together for the development of GIS Industry in India?

A The private industries must inform the government that how they are going to use GIS in their applications. The private industry is already aware of the Ministry of Science and Technology involving into MWF. They must also inform up to what extent they need help from the Government. Anyway the private industry is coming for the help of education to people and institutions in a greater way.

Q. Earlier the Ministry undertook Mapping the Neighbourhood project involving school children in mapping excercise. Is there going to be similar projects in future?

A The government has plans to extend Neighbourhood Mapping in the North East part of India, and we expect the private industries to come and join for the events. People always get the feeling that the government is moving forward to get the data across the private industry. But, Private industry cannot move forward without the help of the government In every phenomenal enterprise private good is essential but public should be a part of the mission. The public good is nothing but the private good, and the private good is nothing other than public good. But, the best way to serve is through public good. The private industry must convey to the people that technology is always for the public welfare.

Q. What is your vision on Science and Technology for India?

A The Government is trying to fulfill the issues discussed in the 11th Five Year Plan which focuses on 9% GDP growth. Government expects to receive huge investments in the field of science and technology and human resource development, if it happens then India can stand along with the leading nations in the field of Science and Technology.

Without achievement in science and technology the development of a country is not possible. There should also be a good relationship in between the Government and private sectors then only a country can move towards development.