THE REALITY OF GEOINFORMATICS EDUCATION IN ASIA

THE REALITY OF GEOINFORMATICS EDUCATION IN ASIA

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Nitin Tripathi
Editor-In-Chief, Asian Journal of Geoinformatics
Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand
[email protected]
Geoinformatics has become very popular in many governmental organizations throughout Asia but there is a long way to go to attain total acceptability. It seems there is lack of awareness about its potential. This issue must be tackled as early as possible by arranging workshops at different places and invite academicians, users and decision makers to know the potentials and recent development

sustainable development is linked to the use of land and other natural resources most judiciously keeping future sustainability in mind. Cities are bound to sprawl in an unplanned manner due to influx and increase of population in urban areas. There are agencies that are supposed to govern land development and plan the urban areas, yet the conventional way could not integrate the numerous factors that must be considered for analyzing and deciding a most futuristic urban growth model and plan. GIS has the potential to deal with data (maps, tables, reports) from various sources and formats. It has very strong and rich repertoire of analysis and modeling tools. Any kind of analysis such as query, geometrical, mathematical, logical/ Boolean, statistical, neural, fuzzy can be performed in GIS integrating all kind of data. A spatial decision support system based on expert models can be developed to ensure a better decision and prepare a long-term and short-term strategic development plan.

The use of GIS technology will be possible only if we can provide education and training. But the GIS education is still limited to very few pioneer institutions and is beyond reach for many state level colleges and institutions in Asia. This is due to the lack of awareness about its potential and resources. Another major handicap faced by many institutions, is lack of GIS teachers, trainers and of course, standard lab facilities.

There is a huge gap between demand and availability of skilled manpower in GIS, which can handle GIS packages and perform routine spatial database management and map creation for government department and service industry.

Geoinformatics covers specialized areas such as remote sensing, surveying, GIS, GPS, photogrammetry, has gone through tremendous development and has become similar to an engineering discipline. China has taken up the challenge and started a major thrust on developing skilled Geoinformatics human resources. At present there are more than 100 colleges and institutions having 4-year Bachelor Degree program and large number of universities specialize in Masters and Doctoral program. Wuhan University is one of the leading universities producing around 3000 surveying, GIS and remote sensing degree holders every year.

India has a very strong space mission but lacks far behind in running Bachelor Degree program in Geoinformatics. Anna University, Tamil Nadu is the only place in India where a Bachelor Degree in Geoinformatics can be obtained. There are many institutions that offer Masters degree program but most of them are constrained and do not have full facilities of Geoinformatics education. Geoinformatics education in India must be developed to use the under-utilized Indian satellite data for sustainable and better decision-making.

Other Asian countries also lack in Geoinformatics education. Vietnam has 4-year degree program in Geoinformatics in at least 2 national universities of technology. Malaysia has better-focused educational facilities in Geoinformatics. Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, etc. also lack in providing proper and adequate educational infrastructure in GIS.

There is a need of three different kinds of geoinformatics trained people: Researchers / Academician, Engineers and Technicians. To satisfy the need, Diploma (1 year program), Degree (4-year program) and Masters/PhD Program in Geoinformatics must be developed in polytechnics, engineering colleges and universities respectively. The training and education should be of high standard to take care of rapid technological transformations. It would be possible only if educators and trainers are exposed and given a chance to learn in world-class education institutions. It would be desirable to send them abroad in the initial stages to learn the technology and later develop the educational infrastructure in their own countries.

Challenges to Geoinformatics Academicians
Academicians from Geoinformatics field face challenge such as:

  • Provide basic knowledge to fulfill demands for technicians
  • Provide advance knowledge for engineers and teachers
  • Impart continuing education in recent technical development- short term training
  • Spread awareness
  • Bring decision makers, users and academicians on one platform for proper understanding the issues and operationalise geoinformatics