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Capacity building stressed for growth

Noida, India: The 11th ESRI India User Conference concluded with a panel discussion on the theme of the conference ‘GIS: Designing our future.’ Eminent personalities from various verticals of the GIS industry put forth their views on various aspects of how GIS can play an enabling role in realising the future – sustainable development of all citizens of India. The panelists included Dean Angelides of ESRI Inc.; Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Sivakumar, CEO, NSDI; Uday Kale, VP-IT, Reliance Energy; and Prof. Seema Parihar of Delhi University. The discussion was moderated by Rajesh Mathur of NIIT GIS Ltd.

Kale highlighted how GIS can be successfully integrated in a business. The commitment of top management to IT and GIS is crucial for this. Also, IT needs to be taken to grassroot level. According to him, the IT system should steamline the existing business processes. A key consideration behind implementation of the technology should be that it should facilitate users. A sound IT strategy is crucial to get business benefits from IT. Sivakumar shared the vision of the government to migrate from e-governance to g-governance, and the building blocks and challenges in the process. Some of these are availability of credible database, interoperability and policy regarding data sharing. However, he asserted that even if these issues are addressed, as they have been to varying degrees, it doesn’t empower people by itself. For GIS to play an enabling role in defining future, it is important to understand that people only want solutions for their needs for which they do not necessarily have to have spatial data knowledge. Also, these solutions should not be limited to the Web as a majority of citizens do not have ready access to it. The solutions should be available on mobile phones. It was agreed that data is only the means, it is the service that is the end.

Angelides, discussing the technological aspect, observed that technology is one of the challenges and it is the responsibility of technology providers to address this challenge. According to him, the real mission of the technology is to make it real. This cannot be achieved without partnership and collaboration of people involved and focussing on relevant things for optimisation of technology. He also opined that India can lead the way in globalisation of GIS in the way it did for IT. Parihar highlighted ways to build capacity and need for GIS in higher education setup. She suggested the need for industry to leverage on the existing pool of resources in higher education, importance of practical learning and internship, top down approach, standardisation of content and quality of content teaching and need for adequate training of staff.

The panel concluded on the need to see GIS not from a technological perspective but the benefit it accrues to business and to have the right people who will build the best technology and take GIS to people, hence the need to invest in human capital.

The day also witnessed a series of sessions on various application areas of GIS. The session on land information system analysed the role of GIS and remote sensing in land use planning, changes in land use pattern due to mining and Internet-based GIS-application for local level planning and sustainable development in selected areas. The session on water resources included presentations on ground water potential using GIS in Nagpur, India, water quality assessment of creeks and coasts in Mumbai, India and geospatial database for water resource development in India.  

The session on natural resources management witnessed ways to conserve forests and tigers using GIS, a special software designed to assess run-off and nutrient pollution in a watershed, geospatial gateway for potential hydropower sites 3D visualisation using GIS and integration of GIS with remote sensing in determining precise application of fertiliser for soil productivity. Technical aspects and innovations were discussed in sessions on technology and Advanced GIS. The day also witnessed sessions on infrastructure, power (utility), disaster management and environment and global change. The awards for best papers and posters were also announced.

Source: By Our Correspondent