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Geospatial technologies will be instrumental in building ‘New India’

On the first day of GeoSmart India, the government, industry and user segments agreed on a comprehensive integrated geospatial strategy and smooth adoption through ‘simplification

GeoSmart India
Geospatial Media CEO Sanjay Kumar moderates the session on ‘Geospatial Strategy for New India’ on Tuesday

Geospatial technologies will play a key role in India’s growth story, and will be instrumental in building a ‘New India’, agreed a group of eminent speakers from the government, user segments and private industry on the first day of GeoSmart India, the most anticipated event of the year for the Indian Geospatial community. With ‘Ignite, Innovate, Integrate’ as the central theme, the three-day conference (3-5 December) kick-started at HICC in Hyderabad on Tuesday. (Also Read: GeoSmart India 2019 to kick start from December 3)

“Geospatial technologies are very important for India’s development. Though ISRO’s role has been to provide the required support from space and enabling the geospatial industry, these technologies have transformative abilities,” said A. S. Kiran Kumar, Vikram Sarabhai Professor and former Chairman of ISRO.

His views were in a way echoed by Surveyor General of India Lt General Girish Kumar. “Geospatial data is very important for developing India. In today’s time, positioning has become a must for infrastructure-related projects, and good infrastructure is crucial for development. For years, it has been the Survey of India’s endeavor to provide trusted data to the country,” he said. Given the growing importance of precise location in a data economy, there is an urgent need to establish a nationwide GNSS CORS infrastructure network. This network will fulfil the need for instantaneous, reliable and fit-for-purpose access to position and timing information that will enable a variety of scientific, civil, and commercial applications across the Indian landscape and its maritime jurisdictions.

In view of its strategic and planning importance, India needs to have 4,000 CORS stations. While Survey of India has already started s work in this direction, an innovative approach is required to deliver this infrastructure need to cater to the high initial cost involved in setting up of the system. “SOI is already on it and by 2020, we will complete setting up a nationwide CORS network,” added the Surveyor General.

In order to encourage the penetration of IRNSS in services, the geospatial strategy for India should be to encourage the implementation and usage of IRNSS in the larger domain of public services. This can include central services such as roads, railways and shipping. 

User segments challenge

“The user departments are sometimes not sure about what they want from government agencies or private organizations. That should not be the case,” emphasized A. S. Kiran Kumar.

On the other hand, Lt General Girish Kumar was of the view that data should be simplified for the user segments so that they can easily understand and use it,” said the Surveyor General of India. Meanwhile, Geospatial Media and Communications CEO Sanjay Kumar, who was moderating the panel, suggested that the user departments must focus on capacity building and should clearly define their requirements.

“Adoption is the key here. According to my experience, GIS should be made an essential part of every welfare scheme and project,” said Jagdeesh Rao, CEO of Foundation for Ecological Security.   

Education for adoption

The government’s ‘New India’ vision envisages the country free from the ills of poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism, casteism and uncleanliness by adopting good governance and using technology. The past decade has witnessed unprecedented advancements, with technologies like Cloud, mobile, Internet and Internet of Things (IoT) leading to data explosion and analytics. “Geospatial is very important for nation-building as it helps in completing projects timely. But equally important is BIM and many other emerging technologies,” said Rajan Aiyer, Managing Director, Trimble India.

Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India, advocated for introducing GIS at the college and school levels for smooth adoption. “Geospatial is relevant for all disciplines and so for quick and smooth adoption, the technologies must be simplified and must be introduced in the education process,” he said.  

Need for geospatial data infrastructure

Given that 80% of all data has a spatial component, a foundational component of the data infrastructure is the geospatial data infrastructure. Geospatial data provides the critical ‘where’ or location component to any data or system. It not only serves as an infrastructure, but as a knowledge source and a service provider for the country. For India, which seeks to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, leveraging the digital transformation by establishing a digital data infrastructure and geospatial data infrastructure are a must.

The Indian geospatial industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, and is estimated to be worth INR 20,000 crore by the end of 2019. As India is moves forward on its transformation path, an efficient, cohesive and effective national geospatial industrial development strategy can make significant contribution in overall planning, implementation and monitoring of welfare programs and development projects by both public and private sectors. Such a strategy would not only help improve productivity and bring higher returns on national investments, but would also strengthen and expand the overall size of Indian geospatial industry, which would go on to add significant societal and economic value in itself. 

“From automation, we are now moving to autonomous. Things are changing rapidly, and we need to match the pace. This is possible though timely technology adoption,” concluded Pramod Kaushik, President & Managing Director, Hexagon AB India.