Madhav N Kulkarni
Geodesy and Remote Sensing Division
Department of Civil Engineering, IIT, Bombay
[email protected]
GIS and GPS have evolved over the last two decades, to become the two most important developmental and planning tools of modern times. With the ever-expanding use of the GIS and GPS technologies, and the numerous programmes launched in these fields, the need of trained manpower to implement these programmes is self-evident. The paper talks about the future and present status of academic activities related to GIS and GPS in India

In India, GIS and GPS are being used widely for numerous applications in diverse fields by various Governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the field of their applications is ever-widening. Three main aspects of any modern technology are: the instrumentation, the software and the manpower. Even though GIS does not demand any special instrumentation, the rapidly expanding use of computer technology in India has been a great boon for GIS. Most public sector organizations today are increasingly using GIS technology for the effective utilization of their resources, and its use in private sector is also expanding rapidly. In GIS-related software development, even though the contribution of Indian GIS professionals is significant, a lot more needs to be done in developing indigenous software systems for global market. In manpower development also, many academic and professional organizations in India are today offering comprehensive training courses related to GIS. However, introduction of GIS as a major field of study in Indian engineering and technological institutes and Universities is still a dream, and more efforts are required to be directed in this direction. GIS-based publications are also contributing significantly in spreading GIS awareness.

In the GPS field, for everyday surveying, GPS has become a highly competitive technique to the terrestrial surveying methods using conventional techniques, whereas in geodetic fields, GPS has almost replaced most techniques currently in use for determining precise horizontal positions of points more than few tens of km apart. Many ambitious programmes related to different applications of GPS, have been launched, including the National GPS Programmes for Earthquake Studies by Dept. of Science & Technology, and Dept. of Space, Govt. of India, the Differential GPS network by Dept. of Light Houses, Govt. of India, GPS-based aviation programme, GPS use by Defence Forces, etc. Even though some indigenously manufactured GPS instrumentation is available, its technical and economical viability needs vast improvement. In the GPS software scenario, very few Indian efforts are today visible, and we have along way to go in this field. In manpower development for effective use of GPS technology also, only few training courses are offered by few academic and professional organizations, whereas the demand for GPS-trained personnel is growing very fast. The important role of academic, technological and professional institutes in this regard can hardly be over-emphasised.

With the ever-expanding use of the GIS and GPS technologies, and the numerous programmes launched in these fields, the need of trained manpower to implement these programmes is self-evident. On the academic front, there are very few Universities/Academic Institutes in India which offer regular academic courses in these areas. At the undergraduate level, GIS-GPS related subjects are mostly included as part of Surveying/Geodesy/Mapping courses, in the Civil Engineering or Geography specializations. Even though the feasibility and demand for a basic degree in GIS-GPS is still being debated, the demand for these specializations as the Master’s degree level is well-established.