Connecting government with citizens

Connecting government with citizens

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The first day of Map Asia 2010 and ISG 2010 witnessed several informative and thought provoking sessions. The first plenary witnessed speakers from reputed organisations talking on ways to connect the government with citizens through ubiquitous GIS. Assoc Prof Dr Somchet thinaphong, Chairman, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, Thailand, discussed how Thailand NSDI is connecting with people through its services. Margaret Coughlin, Chief Marketing Officer, DigitalGlobe described the new features of WorldView-2 and the application of various satellites in DigitalGlobe constellation.

Dean Angelides, Corporate Director, International Operations, ESRI analysed how a geospatial platform is emerging on the Web, creating a distributed network of data and services.  He said that this is supporting many new applications and governments are opening up to support such networks.

Dato Dr Ahmad Sabirin Arshad, CEO, ATSB, discussed how space technology can be utilised in a high income nation. Enumerating the activities of ATSB, he said the main drivers for space around the world have been governments. He said that Malaysia is the first country in the region to launch a satellite (Razaksat) in an equatorial orbit. This has led to several spin-off technologies, he opined.

Dato Dr. Ahmad added that to be more relevant and to create wealth and value for the nation, ATSB is doing a lot of research, development and commercialisation. He said that the changing national aspirations and allocation of assets, creation and retention of human capital, long lead times in tech development and sustainable finances post a challenging situation to ATSB. To be an effective economic contributor, space and related tech development is not a miracle cure and needs to be nurtured properly, he opined.

Joel Campbell, President, ERDAS, while talking on the changing landscape of remote sensing, traced the history of remote sensing – starting from maps which were rarely updated. Today we see the fourth generation of remote sensing with synthesis of IT, Internet, business systems and geospatial technology to create true decision support systems, he said. He then discussed the trends in remote sensing industry and said that the government demand for commercial imagery will double and the market for spatial information management software/services will grow from USD 3.2 billion to 5.7 billion.

Discussing the societal applications of earth observation systems, PG Diwakar, Scientist and Associate Director, Earth Observation System, ISRO, said that the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) is a unique programme in India. He then listed several space based applications India has developed including the Village Resource Centre (VRC) which is a single window delivery mechanism to reach out to the people with advisories on land resources, tele education, tele-medicine etc, Sujala and Bhusampada.

Opening up the world of LiDAR to the audience, Brian Nicholls, General Manager, AAM explained how LiDAR and integrated GIS can expedite infrastructure development. Though LiDAR started in late 1990s, it is a ubiquitous tool today and its applications are quite diverse. When used in association with other technologies like aerial photography, LiDAR can create interesting 3D city models, opening up new possibilities for planning and managing infrastructure.
Panel discussion

An interesting and interactive round of panel discussed the prospects and challenges of geospatial industry in Asia Pacific. Assoc Prof Dato Mohd Ibrahim Hj. Abu Bakar moderated the panel. Dr Noordin Bin Ahmad, Deputy Director General, ANGKASA described geospatial as a common denominator for everything but the problem in Malaysia is that there are too many cooks and not a single functional geospatial industry. He lamented that most of the geospatial services in Malaysia are focused on data and not much on applications. Technology is growing at a rapid pace and people are picking up whatever is available, without much focus on developing applications. Simultaneously, the industry throws an interesting set of prospects. He opined that the proposed Geospatial Act will give a direction to the geospatial industry.

Dr Chih Hong Sun, Chairman, Taiwan GIS Centre analysed the reasons for the booming geospatial industry in China. He said that several challenging situations like disasters and environmental pressures have contributed to the uptake. The Prime Minister of China too acknowledged that geospatial technology is important for China. In Taiwan too, geospatial industry is growing at a rapid pace. One important contributor for this quick uptake is improved broadband Internet services. Consequently, today geospatial industry is moving to cloud computing. Sensor Web is the next step for Taiwan, he opined.

Dr Bill Shephard of ESRI-Singapore gave a synopsis of how Singapore is utilising geospatial technologies in a major way. He cited OneMap initiative, an online service which provides spatial information at fingertips. “The economic benefits of sharing data outweigh the risks concerned,” he quipped. He also pointed out that lack of trained manpower is a major concern for the industry. The panel then took up questions from delegates and discussed further on the challenges before the geospatial industry in the region.  

Source: Our correspondent