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Mapping: Think Globally, Act Locally

Ravi Gupta, Editor GIS@development Traditionally the national mapping organisations (NMOs) are controlled by national governments. This might be one of the reasons that they tend to work more closely with the central governments than with the state and the local governments. Many a times the needs of local governments remain unattended by the national mapping organisations for years and sometimes for decades. For example the Survey of India produces maps at 1:250000, 1:100000, 1:50000 and 1:25000. But the needs of local government in urban and rural areas both is at least 1:1000, if not more. Around 600 mid-sized towns in India are in a crying need of large-scale maps, but there is hardly any NMO, which is listening.

In the age of sweeping economic changes globally, when private and the NGO sector are playing crucial role in the developmental planning and implementation, the local governments are faced with newer choices in management, technologies and financing.

The e-governance is bringing the much-needed attention to the local governments, which they deserve. The e-governance initiatives are bringing in the funds, the management and the technical infrastructure to carry out their jobs more efficiently. This is leading to local-government specific GIS solutions being developed by various government, NGO and private organisations.

This trend is good in the sense that the local governments are now becoming spatially enabled to tackle the e-governance needs in their respective zones. There is a need to prepare a blueprint for geo-enabling of the local organisations at the earliest, so that the spatial databases being developed by the local governments remain compatible with each other, are accurate and sharable in the long run. If this attention is given today, the local governments GIS databases may seamlessly become part of national spatial data infrastructure and later the global spatial data infrastructure, whenever in place. NMOs, which have turned Nelson’s eye towards local governments till now, have a big opportunity and responsibility to play a crucial role in addressing these issues.

Hope, they rise to the occassion!

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