Our Oldest – Survey of India

Our Oldest – Survey of India


Prabhakar Misra
Email: [email protected]

Survey of India will have to become sooner than later customer-centric instead of production-centric

John Keay writes in his latest book The Great Arc “The Arc would be his (George Everest) life’s work, his dearest attachment, his near fatal indulgence, and while he lived, his name would be synonymous with it. Yet it was not his brain-child ….Those honours belong to the less articulate genius of William Lambton. Nor when Everest died, would he long be remembered for the Arc. Instead his name was purloined for a peak”. These words roll our thoughts to the extremely ardous and dedicated services rendered to the nation by the Survey of India (SoI) which born in 1767 is still going strong, is one of the oldest Government Department in India.

Survey of India’s Twenty First Century
The concepts of the modern service are enshrined in the oft discussed Customer Relations Management (CRM) and are aptly supported by IT revolution (on-line service) and other marketing ideas practiced so advantageously in India. We can state with confidence that the service-departments of Government of India, not only Survey of India, but others, namely National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and many others in the disciplines of geology, forestry, soil and ground water, etc. will have to pay top most attention to the ‘user’/customer’.

In simple words, Survey of India will have to become, sooner than later CUSTOMER – CENTRIC instead of PRODUCTION CENTRIC. And in that case, what should be, the changes in the objectives stated and citculated through SOI free eatalogue? Our suggestions are as follows:

Geo-data Acquistion – Continue through, the technology(ies) available today in field-control, aerial photography, photogrametry and Global Positioning System (GPS), geodetic activities, etc. The new technology of Air-borne Laser Scanning is around the corner. This can be absorbed in due course after testing it in our policy environment.

Aerial Photography – Whole of India may be covered by 1:40,000 or larger scale aerial photography . The advantage of this scale will be obvious in what is being suggested under photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry – What is being suggested is the concept of stored photogrammetic models. It simply means that

  • Intial Field control is to be done, as is the present practice
  • Aerial Traingulation is to be done, as usual in generating stereo-models

The other stages i.e. Photogrammetric plotting (Mapping) and Field Verification, etc. are to be completed only when the demand is there and only for the limited area for which budget and needs exist.

A big advantage which will accrue to the customers will be that the mapping (Photo-plotting) can be finished in a matter of days as compared to months and will not involve field work except for verification and annotation.

Closer Contours Interval
The aerial photography at 1:40,000 (or larger) will be able to provide contours at 2 to 4 metres a great advantage for engineering projects and for producing DTM as input to GIS.

New Products
Taking the cue from a variety of customers in Survey of India’s marketing domain, the following new products are suggested.

  • Digital Terrain Model (DTM) in addition to contours.
  • Slope maps, derived from DTMs or contours for professionals in earth sciences.
  • Digital Orthophoto Maps on 1:10,000 scale derived from aerial photography of 1:40,000 scale for about 500-600 towns of India – for urban planners and administrators.
  • 1:50,000 maps – without lat/long but updated through appropriate satellite imagery and published every five years. Special priority for revision of maps which are astride national/state highways and important project areas.

On Line Service
Technology is available (policy is to be augmented suitably) to produce Instant Maps or Map on Demand through the use of Internet or other media. These maps will be upded at SOIwith the help of outsourced field work and/or satellite imagery.

Marketing of Products and Service
This is going to be a important activity for enhancement of services from Survey of India.

  • Regular meeting with the potential users is to be revived. This will determine the priorities of activities of Survey of India.
  • Non-Restricted Maps should be converted to CD-ROMs as has been-done by Australia. Many agencies, specially, consulting firms will like to be on the permanent mailing list of Survey of India.

These are some of the suggestion as a part of a longer list. I am hopeful of meaningful response from the readers.