Home Geospatial Applications Miscellaneous Caravan tracing geospatial footprint in India

Caravan tracing geospatial footprint in India

Noida, India: The 10-city Geospatial Technology Caravan was held in India recently. Organised by Geospatial Media & Communications in association with the Department of Information Technology (DIT), the aim of the seminar was to provide an exclusive and comprehensive update on various aspects of technology developments in the field of geospatial sector. People from all walks of life – geospatial experts, administrators, industry and academia, participated in the event that travelled across the length and breadth of the country. It provided an excellent opportunity for participating organisations to discuss about the primary issues facing the growth of geospatial technology in their region and also discover some of the latest advancements happening in this field.
The caravan began its journey in Guwahati (Assam).

Guwahati (Assam) – September 19, 2011
Despite earthquake hitting the region a day prior to the event, people in large numbers gathered to be a part of the caravan. Setting the ball rolling for the event was Deepak Goswami, Sr. Technical Director, NIC, Assam, who talked about the exponentially growing number of smartphone users in the country, who are using geospatial technology but are not aware about the term, ‘geospatial’. He then spoke about open source software and urged the administrators to use it as it helps in cutting cost. He also explained about the importance of digitisation of land records and how it can be used for better governance and planning.

M K Yadav, Technical Director, Assam Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (AMTRON), talked about GIS and Remote sensing Integrated Initiative for Administrative and Social Infrastructure (GARIISI) project and the role of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

Kolkata (West Bengal) – September 21, 2011

Prof. Saradindu Sengupta, Adviser, Dept of S&T, Government of West Bengal, started the programme by speaking about activities of Geoinformatics and Remote Sensing Cell. According to him, some of the projects sponsored by the Department are State Spatial Data Infrastructure(SSDI), National Wasteland Change Analysis Project and National Geomorphological and Lineament Mapping project.

Briefing the gathering about National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), Dr Subir Roy, Principal Consultant and Head, Government of West Bengal, said, “NeGP comprises 27 mission mode projects (MMPs), which are to be implemented at the central, state and local government level. NeGP also aims to set up State Data Centre (SDC), State Wide Area Network (WBSWAN), State Portal – Banglarmukh, State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) and Common Service Centres.”

Ashok Kumar Malik, Director, NATMO, spoke about the recently released atlases of NATMO like Atlas of rural India, Cultural heritage atlas of India, Historical atlas of India, Atlas of tourist infrastructure and Atlas of freedom movement of India. Talking about Atlas of freedom movement of India, he said, “It is an effort to portray the social, cultural, economic and geopolitical situation during India’s freedom struggle. The incidences and sites of protest, events and movements have been depicted with a series of maps supplemented by literature.” NATMO has also released atlases of states like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The other speakers of the day were M Mohan, Add Surveyor General and Basab Mukhopadhyay, Senior Geologist, Geological Survey of India (GSI), Mission III. While Mohan talked about the activities undertaken by Survey of India throughout the country and claimed that land digitisation projects have been completed in most of the states,
Mukhopadhyay, gave a presentation on Portal of Geological Survey of India and its future.

Gandhinagar (Gujarat) – September 23, 2011
The event saw several high-profile dignitaries assembling at the venue like Maheshkumar V. Joshi, Settlement Commissioner and Director of Land Records, Gujarat; Vinay Vyasa, Commissioner, Geology and Mining, Government of Gujarat; A. K. Verma, Member Secretary, Gujarat Ecology Commission, Government of Gujarat; among others. Vyasa set the tone for the day by speaking about how GIS has helped bring transparency in governance.  Verma spoke about the need for government to be more robust in understanding of technology. He also highlighted the gap between our present day policies and the technology available.
The day presented an interesting gathering of speakers from all sectors. If Anjana Vyas, Professor and Dean, CEPT University, spoke about the problems of students (how despite qualifications they are unable to get suitable jobs), Bharat Jain, Member Secretary, Gujarat Cleaner Production Centre, talked about waste management and how the centre is working towards making Gujarat a zero-pollution state.

Chandigarh – September 26, 2011

Being the capital of two states – Haryana and Punjab, Chandigarh presented a unique amalgamation of people from both these states. If Dr Amarinder Kaur, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), represented Haryana Panchkula; Dr Brijendra Pateriya, Director, was there from Punjab Remote Sensing Centre. However, the chief guest of the event was Dr A Karthik, JS, Revenue, Government of Punjab, who spoke about various GIS projects being carried out by his department and the challenges faced by them. He cited lack of manpower as one of the major problems in carrying out projects in the state.
Meanwhile, Gulshan K Chutani, Senior Executive Engineer, Punjab State Power Corp. Ltd., talked about the implementation of geospatial technology by the Corp. and said that the first pilot city project would be launched soon.

Patna – September 30, 2011

“It is high time that we should be serious about disaster preparedness,” observed Anil Kumar Sinha, Vice Chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. Citing Japan’s example, he said that Japan has developed state-of-the-art disaster management system using geospatial technology.
The day presented an insight into the intake of technology by various departments in the government sector. While Hemkant Roy from Forest Department of Bihar expressed willingness to embrace GIS in demarcation of forest land and integration of attribute data with digital data; PK Singh, Nodal Officer – RAPDRP, Bihar Electricity Board informed the audience about the progress of the project. Similarly, Sanjay Kumar of Flood Management Information System, Bihar, presented the Kosi river flood mitigation case study to demonstrate why Bihar is considered to be an exceptional example of growth in India. Meanwhile, Dr M. Stalin, Director (Bihar), Survey of India, expressed regret over the fact that most organisations in the state are not aware of the fact that SoI has mapped five cities of Bihar at 1:2000 and 1:10,000 scale. 

Chennai – October 3, 2011

The Chief Guest of the event was Dr Santhosh Babu, Secretary to the government, Department of Information Technology, Tamil Nadu. Bapu spoke about the various initiatives taken by government to promote e-Governance in the state. Talking about the need for agencies to share data among them, he said, “There is a requirement for an agency to be set up which will take care of coordinating activities between various departments which at present are working in silos”. He also laid emphasis on the need to facilitate interaction between government and citizens.
Briefing audience about the activities of the state’s forest department, Ashutosh Samant Singhar, said that the department has incorporated GIS in almost all activities of its organisation – be it database creation, coastal zone vegetation or vegetation change detection/ analysis or identifying forest fire risk zones.
Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) is another major success story of the state. Talking about its achievement, V Pugezhendhi, GIS expert, TWAD, said, “We began with providing state level information, then moved on to district level and now are going for block and panchayat level information”.
K.Mohanram, Deputy Transport Commissioner-I Cum-Nodal Officer for Computerisation, Transport Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, introduced audience to the Road Accident Database Management System (RADMS) and explained how the technology has helped agencies in identifying accident-prone areas and timings as well.

Mumbai – October 12, 2011

Highlighting the role of geospatial technology in improving the quality of governance, S S Shinde, Joint Commissioner, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), set the ball rolling for the day.
Vinod M Bothale, Director, Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) observed that GIS has witnessed a boom in India in the past five years, and the coming years would be extremely promising. He also conducted a technical demonstration to show how GIS works.
Dr Smita Sengupta, Research Scientist, IIT Mumbai, talked about relationship between computer science engineering and GIS. Highlighting students’ problems, she said that dealing with geospatial database is one of the toughest tasks for computer science students. She added that computer science students are more inclined towards spatio-temporal data which include processes like algorithm development, data processing etc.
Uday R Patankar, Senior Geologist, Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA), Maharashtra, said that they are currently working on three World Bank projects and two central government projects.

Bhopal – October 14, 2011

Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister of Commerce & Industries, Employment, Information Technology, Science and Technology, Public Undertakings, Horticulture & Food Processing, Rural Industries, inaugurated the event in the city. Describing geospatial technology as one of the modern innovative tools, he said that these kinds of technologies are appropriate for effectively dealing with present day challenges. Talking about the successful implementation of this technology by forest department, he said that the government is keen to expand its usage in environment monitoring, better governance, betterment of tourism and all other public programmes.
Speaking about the exponential growth in geospatial domain all over the world including the state of Madhya Pradesh, Anurag Srivastava, OSD, Additional Secretary, DIT, Madhya Pradesh, appreciated the work done by NIC and the rural development department in this direction. He informed that DIT is collaborating with all departments in the state to develop a centralised platform. This platform will provide information about all the departments of the government.
Laying emphasis on g-governance, Vivek Chitale, Technical Director, NIC, explained how NIC is using geospatial technology in areas like GeoSearch, I-GeoApproach, I-GeoAmpere, GeoForest, SGSI, Mobile PDA-based GIS (mobile-based rural road management) and e-Gram Suvidha.
Meanwhile Omar Farook Khatani, Joint Revenue Commissioner, Department of Land Records, Madhya Pradesh, spoke about how geospatial technology has enabled the land department to solve most of its land related issues.

Jaipur – October 18, 2011

“GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has become an inseparable component of urban planning and that sooner or later all organisations will have to adapt the technology for better and more efficient functioning,” informed H.S. Sancheti, Director (Town Planning), Jaipur Development Authority, in his opening address. Talking about the use of geospatial technology in some of its upcoming projects, he said that soon all 184 towns in the state are going to have master plans.
The event also saw government departments showcasing some of their latest projects. P. Arvind, Additional Chief Town Planner (Master Plan) Jaipur Development Authority, apprised participants about the Jaipur Development Authority Master Plan, which aims at creating a base map of the entire region. Thereafter, A. Purnachandra, Superintending Surveyor, Survey of India, explained the significance of the organisation and its chief duties and responsibilities. He also updated the gathering about the ongoing National Spatial Data Infrastructure initiative.

Trivandrum – October 21, 2011
 “Why is it that we are not able to make complete use of technology despite administers willing to improve the system, industry interested in contributing towards it and citizens eager to get it. There is a need for a proper marriage between industry and government,” observed, Dr Nivedita P. Haran, Addl. Chief Secretary, Revenue & Disaster Management, Kerala, India. She also elaborated reasons which act as a hindrance for the growth of industry in India. “Lack of ignorance about technology among government officials is one major cause. Then there are vested interests or lack of open-mindedness that inhibit the use of technology for improving governance,” she explained.
Dr Haran was followed by Radhakrishnan, CTO, IIITMK, who suggested setting up of Association of geospatial community in the state. Meanwhile, speaking about the need for setting up Kerala State Spatial Infrastructure (KSDI), Sabarish, Mission Coordinator, Kerala State IT Mission, said, “We must ensure that the huge amount of data that is available is accessible to users in real time,” adding, “G-governance is the next revolutionary step in achieving good governance.”

Technology Presentations

The event offered an excellent opportunity for the participating companies to display their offerings before the gathering.
The presentation by Intergraph showed how GIS can be used in various fields such as town planning, communications, public safety, transport, natural disaster management and better governance. Subsequently, presentations were also given on some of the company’s specific offerings such as ERDAS product line, Geomedia, etc that can address some of the challenges facing the state.

DigitalGlobe showed how the company’s high-resolution satellite imagery can help organisations in meeting the demands and challenges of better governance. The presentation also informed the gathering about the company’s cloud services and how it can reduce the burden of data management. DigitalGlobe also showcased its latest offering, the Global Basemap.

Pitney Bowes took the opportunity to display its GIS capabilities and informed the gathering about its huge product line, which include the Mapinfo Exponare, Mapinfo Discover Suite for natural resource management and Mapinfo Crime Profiler.
HP mainly talked about large format printers and their cloud-based initiatives which enable users to send their documents through e-mail to HP printers based-on the cloud and get print outs.

Conclusion:
The caravan was a huge hit among the participating cities with audience asking for more such interactions between the government sector and the industry.