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Aadhar cards and GIS – The missing link

GISThis article discusses the Government of India’s Aadhar card (Digital ID) system database and the room and importance of GIS.

Operationalizing Aadhar

Operationalizing a system for India makes it one of the world’s biggest biometric system. ‘Every’ Indian now has a fundamental understanding of Aadhar cards including the digital power handed to him as well the security risks associated. The newscasts regarding Indian government websites being disturbed by foreign elements are sometimes overlooked. Such happenings have not shown yet any direct severe effect on the citizens involved. This can also be viewed as the integrity of security promises kept by the government bodies while operationalizing Aadhar. In a general sense, those happenings can be proven to be faulty which impinge harm over people, taking aside the threat of personal data usage. Various IT cells at national and international level have shown that a lot can be taken without using the information exclusive to Aadhar. Online perception molding does not depend on the length of the queue you might have stood in, to transfer your responsibility to the government.

Aadhar and GIS

From the point of view of total information recorded, locational information is still missing. Like AI (Artificial Intelligence), GIS (Geographical Information System) has also invaded many disciplines while providing facilities which are getting increasingly necessary. With the advancements in this domain, every search for a utility on the big search engines offers locational information as a very basic part of the search results. GIS is the technology which has transferred the maps from paper onto the screen, Google maps being one of the simplest examples understood and overused.

GIS is missing in Aadhar Cards. The static geographical information of an individual is limited to text form. This information cannot be visualized and is similar to a gen set written on a piece of paper. The locational information in an Aadhar card cannot be visualized on a screen until the text holding address information is searched over Internet while also keeping in mind that it won’t always show up. A lot of villages in India like a lot of places in the world are not addressed in Google maps, Bing maps and many others. On the other hand, it is most probable that most of the population of such villages/places have their Aadhar- registration done. Gone are the days when one had to hold maps and orient them accordingly to know where they are standing; locational information is increasingly getting important and necessary. Besides the other complex information, the most basic information of home and workplace should be associated with Aadhar card system along with 10 thumbprints, bank account details and even the cashless payment portals’ credentials. The government database holding address information of a particular individual cannot mark the place/block/nigam on a map unless Internet search offers to provide a location result for the text address search. The government knows your age, how much you earn and how much tax you pay but might not geographically know where you live until the global map makers update their map inventories. A related government personnel can reach the place only after ‘asking the directions’. Though this instance is not true with most of the persons since their places are mapped over internet but producing locational information is not always the accountability of the global map giants. Still making the use of toposheets (official geographic paper maps) cannot be resorted to as that’s not as flexible to use as the onscreen maps and need updating too which is more time intense.

The database system should have a system of visualizing locational information for every individual being. The ‘proof’ that locational information cannot be ‘visualized’ by the government databases is that while reaching out homes to make Aadhar cards only personal information and thumbprints are taken. The addresses are hand-fed into digital database. In the modern era where GPS technology can provide 2-3 cm accuracy within minutes, associating this information accurately is possible. Once static geographical information is possible, picking up dynamic geographical information can be made possible. With the advent of micro/nano GPS instruments such technological incorporations can be lifesavers if at some time you meet a crisis and really wants to get your location known. Considering dynamic locational information acquisition as a futuristic view, the government should have a map marked system for the static location/s of every individual. But then again with great power comes great responsibility.