Home Articles The national GPS technology initiative

The national GPS technology initiative

Prabhakar Misra
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A very timely and well-attended Asian GPS Conference organised by CSDMS was held on October 29 -30, 2001. The impression gathered during and after the conference was a pleasant surprise to many. The surprise came from the fact that GPS technology is already being used in India and that too at the high end of the technology. In spite of all these “a common would be user” is still bewildered. Some of the points that need attention and discussion in India regarding this technology are suggested below.

GPS Infrastructure

First Order GPS GPS control of the first order (highest accuracy) should be provided throughout India. The start can be made to coincide with the requirements of the ground control points (GCPs) for the Department of Space/ National Remote Sensing Agency and other users in the field of tectonic movement, dam/bridge deformation and similar accuracy oriented projects. It is envisaged that about 800 to 1000 points (2 points per district) preferably on highways and rail roads would be adequate. The time duration for this task should be five years.

The first Order GPS should be a DST project which could be designed to have a character of public – private participation (PPP). In this, certain stretches could be given to the private companies/NGOs on tendered/agreed to rates of payment.

Second Order GPS Working on the principle of surveying i.e whole to part, the second – order GPS network could also be organised in a similar manner. On time frame this project could continue for more than 5-6 years.

The Third – Order GPS will be undertaken by the prospective user who has a specific mapping or control project in his hand. In the absence of the higher order GPS networks, presently it is difficult and time consuming for a user to establish his base – station for Differential GPS.

Policy Infrastructure
The, policy is a great influencing factor, indeed, ‘vital vector’ to channalise the resources i.e. manpower (including training), equipment and embedded knowledge of GPS. It goes without saying that Department of Science and Technology well have to look after the GPS policy as has been done so far.

What is suggested here is that an Advisory think-tank/steering/(any other name) Committee should be constituted for establishing the GPS Policy framework. The members of the advisory body should come from other Ministries/Universities Academics, NGOs like CSDMS and other individuals.

This Committee will be able to provide a continuity of guidance to most of the important activities including training, research and development of GPS.

GPS website and clearing house
It was announced in the conference that a website www.asiangps.net is about to function on the line of www.gisdevelopment.net under the aegis of CSDMS.

This site could be utilised by all the persons who are in any way connected with GPS. The same site will provide necessary background information to fresh and experienced users of GPS.

Use of GPS equipment
Undoubtedly, the GPS equipment is the costliest set of equipment to be owned by any organisation. Since its use by a small user is limited to a few days, say, for 20-30 days in a year, the user may like to hire the equipment rather than own it.

DST and Departments like Survey of India, Wadia Institute and National Physical Laboratory, etc. and private vendors could arrive at some solution towards this problem. Some Government/Non Government Organisation(s) could be created to issue instruments on hire to small users and educational institutions.

Fast growth of GPS
GPS segment of the technology is the fastest growing item. GPS is making entry into location based – industry, car navigation and may come in a big way in time-determination (watch) The introduction of WAAS for the civil aviation itself will give a big boost to GPS industry.

It is time that India should prepare itself well for GPS.