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Governance, in its simplest sense, refers to how an organisation, including a nation, is run. It includes all the processes, systems and controls that are used to safeguard and grow assets.
The foremost aim of a government is to make effective decisions and implement them for all round development of the organisation/nation. About 80% of all government decisions have a geographical component to them and this makes the use of location based services (LBS) all the more imperative to augment the services of the government.
The areas of government where LBS can be effectively and prominently used include home land security, infrastructure, utilities, tourism and health administration.
The primary concern for a nation is its security – be it of life, of lifestyle, of property, or of territory. In the wake of global terrorism, government organisations across the world are introducing high-end technologies to enhance surveillance capabilities and hence the security of citizens. Apart from GPS-enabled vehicle tracking, Police departments are using mobile phone tracing via GPS and Google Maps to keep track on the crime in their neighbourhood. Analysts believe that police will increasingly rely on GPS as an effective tool in investigations.
The significance of LBS technology in maintaining expensive government infrastructure like rail, roads, government buildings and social infrastructure across the country is enormous and is bound to gain even more importance in the coming times. A good example in this context is railways. Railways are using GPS to curb train accidents by installing GPS based systems. Indian Railways are ready to roll out a satellite-based train tracking system. The system, which gives real-time information on a train’s status to passengers, would enable mobile train radio communication, national-level rail traffic management and anti-collision mechanisms. Governments are powering highways and motorways with GPS for better traffic and fleet management. Simultaneously, LBS technology is being used for collecting toll taxes.
Information availability is a critical element in the functioning of life today. LBS enables this in an efficient way. An LBS device can inform its owner about current traffic updates through the data provided by the telecom operators. A GPS device or a GPS-embedded mobile phone can guide tourists and provide information about a place of their interest or destination. All this relevant information is possible on a LBS device as the governments are taking initiatives to provide best of the location based data on mobile devices through better collection and processing of data by major telecom operators.
Of late, public healthcare organisations are relying on location-based data for multitude of purposes. One of the major utility is to keep track the geographical spread of contagious pandemics like bird flu, swine flu and cholera. This geographical mapping can be extremely useful in control and management of the diseases.
In a recent initiative, India’s National Institute of Malaria Research has produced a GIS-driven digital map of past and predicted outbreak hotspots as part of the national malaria control programme. Mapping disease networks using digital medical records dramatically change the way we understand diseases in general.
The extent of horizontal coverage of LBS has changed the dynamics of governance in all walks of life ranging from homeland security to emergency services to aid in navigation.