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Zoom in for maximum governance

Leveraging the power of location intelligence to transform cities, governments and governance

Have you ever looked at a century old, dilapidated heritage site and wondered to yourself how long before time reclaims its power and raze it to the ground?  Have you been anxious about the state of our historic architectural wonders and thought- if we would be able to pass it on to our next generations? What if I told you, that a ‘digital India’ could preserve them through digital documentation and mapping? That, we could create physical replicas out of these digital maps! Sounds like a sci-fi movie, right?  But reality might not be far away, as it seems.

Earlier, this year, National Atlas and Thematic Organization (NATMO) announced that it is preparing a 3D Geographic Information System (GIS) map that will enable tourists and residents to take a virtual tour of city’s monuments museums and attractions. This will also help architects and conservationists in repairing and restoration of damaged monuments.

Beyond delivering pizzas and preserving sites, location mapping and technologies have showed immense potential in creating smart governance systems. One such case that comes to mind is the DANIDA- assisted National Leprosy eradication program (DANELP), which maps multiple drug delivery points viz-a-viz patient location, in the entire state of Madhya Pradesh. The success of DANELP has helped the healthcare community across states such as Orissa and Tamil Nadu to drive healthcare programs for diseases such as Malaria, TB, Polio, HIV, etc.

These examples underline the significance of digital mapping, location-based data and technologies, that could offer governments, public sector organizations, healthcare providers, etc., with minute layer of details, planning and execution for better and smarter governance. Although, ‘location intelligence and data’ won’t always solve a problem or pinpoint to the root of the governance challenges,  it can, however, help us shed light on some of the toughest public policy challenges, predict patterns, provide multiple, plausible and co-related reasons on why certain programs and projects thrive in one place and fail in others.

In other words, the power of ‘zooming in’ on a location provides a creative evolution, in the way governments and civic body authorities interact with their people. Location intelligence derived from digital maps, coupled with existing citizen data and public delivery services can provide historic and predictive perspective, helping real-time collaboration and informed decision making between inter-governmental parties and civic authorities, while empowering the citizens to participate in policy making process.

Also Read: Six technologies crucial for smart cities

With the emergence of geospatial technology and spatial analytics thrown up daily by a wide range of devices- right from smartphone apps, cameras and sensors embedded in cars, televisions, traffic signals to buildings, governments can plan and pursue new models of delivering public utility services. Government can use the geospatial data to analyze functioning of different government agencies, understand citizen attitudes and preferences to devise innovative solutions for the most pressing challenges that affect from local neighborhoods to the ones that acquire a national character such as land management or air pollution. For e.g.– The Haryana government, with the help of local administration, deployed 24 satellites and drones to prepare a digital map, with geo-referencing to create ownership records of every piece of property. In about a short span of time, this resulted into the resolution of several land records and for over 2800 acres, comprising of 1500 issues were resolved. This is now also being replicated in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, where the satellite imagery is being used for land planning and utilization of water resources, etc.

Also Read: Five myths about Location Intelligence

Another challenging roadblock for governments in creating smart cities and communities, today is thrash disposal. As the issue of environmental sustainability gathers momentum, municipal authorities and garbage managers will have to up their waste management and recycling game.  Applying technologies as simple as GPS trackers, HD maps, fleet trackers or advanced ERP suites can help authorities in dispatching of distribution and collection of waste routes, route optimization for garbage collection trucks, etc.  Contextualizing location data could in other words, help change the face of waste management industry by reducing operating costs, improving margins and citizen satisfaction.

In conclusion, it is safe to say, that location data can change the world we live in and the relationship between governments and its citizens. When we start zooming in and out on the devices that connect us with one another and the other connected technologies from the context of ‘place’, it will enable governments redefine policy making basics, empower public service officials and community to work together on some of the pressing problems of the modern day society.

Also Read: Driving smart mobility: All roads lead to Location Intelligence