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Why should one invest in GIS?

Prabhakar Misra
Email: [email protected]

It is the potential of the market which motivates the pre-investment activities.

This question was asked by a foreign delegate at MAP INDIA 2001. Since then I have not only prepared for a quick ‘yes’ but also made an attempt to quantify the market. It is the potential of the market which motivates the pre-investment activities. I am happy to share some of these thoughts in the following paragraphs.

Market potential for geo-information
US office of Management and Budget (OMB), inter alia, stated in 1992 that “the expected public and private benefits derived from government information should exceed the public and private costs of the information”. Over the time the benefits of information generated by private and government organisations all over the world have become so valuable that timely generation of spatio-geo-information is turning into big business as well as foreign exchange earner for India. Good-to-work estimates of the market potential have been based on the judgement made robust by interaction with the concerned players in India and abroad. Many well established production – organisations at Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi have already launched themselves in GIS business.

A comprehensive idea on the present and future objectives of the existing geo-information-generating agencies will also greatly influence the investment and long term commitment towards training of manpower in India. It has also been well recognised that production units in India have shown visible competitiveness in the world marketplace because of lower costs and quality control by well qualified, competent and English speaking professionals.

Assumptions about the technology
It is incumbent on anyone who wishes to put some numbers on the market to make certain assumptions on the level of the technologies which are to be harnessed towards generation of the information (data). These have been mentioned separately for each sub-market. Side by side, an idea of the employment potential of the professionals and technologists is also furnished in some cases.

Sector Wise Market Potential
National and State Highways
Total length of highways (National, State, District and Rural) comes to about 1,5,65,000 km.

Taking high resolution satellite imagery e.g. 1KONOS and CARTOSAT as the technology base, the total potential is worked out as follows:

For feasibility studies, (Rs. 60 crores) to be done in the next 5 years and for generating physical information for Detailed Project Report by employing GPS, Aerial photography and photogrammetry, the market potential is Rs. 180 crores. Thus, the total market potential for the Highways Sector is Rs.240 crores.

Urban Base Maps and Utility Surveys
Out of 4000 plus urban entities there are about 500-600 towns which urgently need base-maps (on 1:10,000/1:5000 scale).The same towns eventually will generate load for utility surveys on 1:1000/ 1:2000 scale.

For Base Mapping, utilising high-resolution satellite imagery aerial photographic mosaics etc., the market potential is approximated at Rs. 100 crores. This market is likely to give rise to employment of 3 lakh man-days.

The market potential for Utility Mapping through the technology of digital photogrammetry, digital orthophotomapping, GPS and GIS, is Rs. 600 crores.

Modern Cadastral Surveys, Mining Surveys and other Large Scale Surveys and Mapping
There are approximately 5 lakh villages, which sooner or later will require to be resettled. The technology which is ideal for this task will greatly depend on GPS for control and aerial pholography/high resolution satellite imagery for contents and GIS for operational tasks. This market potential is anticipated at Rs. 140 crores.

Satellite Remote Sensing Based Projects and GIS
An educated assumption implies that there are about 400 projects a year with about 100 mandays each. Taking the cost of manpower as Rs. 8000 per day, the market potential comes to about Rs. 30 crores.

Summary of Market Potential (in Crores)
The paper provides albeit very briefly, the idea of the market potential in Indian scenario. The market potential for GIS appears to be around Rs. 1,100 crores. We have to add a suitable figure for the projects which will be marketed by Indian firms from abroad.

Let me end this note with a rather negative thought. This is because of the security environment prevalent in India. Should the security restrictions continue, it is expected that the total market share would be downsized by about 50%.