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Utilities – advantage geospatial

Arup Dasgupta

Prof. Arup Dasgupta
Honorary Managing Editor
[email protected]
Many years ago, when broadband Internet was just making inroads in to the Indian market, a prominent ISP persuaded me to subscribe to their service. All went well for a week and then, kaput! I was disconnected. A call to the help desk elicited soothing noises but the connection remained elusive. Frantic and then increasingly irate calls finally resulted in a harried service technician visiting me to set things right. It turned out that I was being served by a cable which had got cut and, according to the technician, it took them nearly two days to find out where the damage was. A leading ISP did not know how their cables were routed! Oh, they had diagrams and schematics but they lacked a simple map.

I am therefore not surprised that today ISPs, telcos and in fact, any industry with geographically dispersed assets are big customers of geospatial technologies. In India, and perhaps in most rapidly growing economies, efficiency of power generation and distribution is a big problem. With transmission and distribution losses running into millions of rupees, the Indian power sector has no choice but to integrate information rich technologies like geospatial technology into its IT infrastructure. It will not be easy. For example, while SCADA has been around for some time its linkage to GIS is replete with issues related to standards. There are tremendous opportunities here for geospatial service providers for innovation and integration with existing systems.

Power, telecom and Internet represent the more visible utilities and may hog the limelight but water supply and sewerage also cry out for geospatial solutions. Old cities with decaying assets laid many years ago can fall prey to serious health problems as pipelines choke/rupture. The lack of pipeline layouts adds to the problems. As cities expand rapidly, the information infrastructure can barely keep pace and problems get compounded. Misuse and misappropriations thrive in such conditions. At the administrative level it becomes necessary to bring in transparency of operations and here again there are tremendous opportunities for the industry.

One fact that emerges clearly is that best service can be provided when geospatial, IT and communication technologies integrate into a seamless application. Such an integration not only helps provide quality service to the end users but also enables the end users to communicate their problems easily and effectively. This, in turn, improves the quality of service.

Before I end, let me inform our readers about a new feature we have started with this issue. The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in July 2010. GIS Development is proud to be officially associated with this event. We make a beginning with an article about ISPRS, its formation and growth. In future issues, we will carry more articles, perspective of past presidents and reports of ISPRS events connected with the celebration.