Gurgaon, India: “GIS is not for the sake of technology, hardware, software or even applications. GIS is meant for common man on street. The benefits of the technology should reach the last mile otherwise it is not of much use.” This was the assertion of Anoop Singh, Special Secretary to Government, Information Technology & Communications Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, during the Panel Discussion on the status of Geo-governance in India, on the second day of India Geospatial Forum. Anoop, who is also Project Manager GIS Development for the state, traced the evolution of geospatial databases by various department of the state and expressed that it is high time we stopped working in silos and stopped reinventing the wheel. He was of the opinion that ‘anything which has anything to do with space and spatial location, is GIS based.’ Where the use of geospatial technology in governance is concerned, he noted that there are sparks of brilliance but ‘that is about it.’ One key aspect in promoting g-governance is convincing the political honchos about the benefits of the technology. Another is to have like-minded people come together and form a forum at national level. Another interesting concept put forth by him was the establishment of spatial data purchase policy for states, where license for data is with the state and not with any department. This will facilitate data sharing among departments as they often cite license issue as one of the constraints in data sharing. This will also benefit state exchequer as different departments won’t purchase same data like satellite imagery more than once.
An instance of use of geospatial technology in governance was highlighted by Dr. AP Singh, Deputy Registrar General, Office of the Registrar General of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. He informed that properly updated geo-database on each administrative unit are required before census is undertaken. Therefore the organisation generates geospatial database at all levels. He also informed that all the maps are compiled into an administrative atlas of India. Manoj Jain, Sales Director, Pitney Bowes Software discussed how GIS can be useful in governance. He was of the view that a lot of information resides in non-spatial sources but they have geo-coordinates. Tapping this information and combining it with spatial information will drive further value in governance. A major task in geospatial technology is data collection. A useful source in this direction is people’s participation in capturing information. He also stressed on utilising the GPS capacity of mobile phones.
Ravi Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, eGov, observed that the industry issues that were prevalent more than a decade ago are still prevalent, which is not a good sign. However, there are signs of hope, he expressed. These include mobile, social media, and GPS which is easier to deploy than GIS.
Geo-ICT in agriculture
The vertical conference on Geo-Gov during India Geospatial Forum also focussed on specific sectors. One such sector was agriculture which saw several eminent personalities from the sector discuss various aspects related to the use of the technology.
Agriculture today has remote sensing data, statistics, maps, different survey reports, Web, internet, various agencies producing data related to agriculture, state reports, district reports, mobile phones – all of which were not there or hardly there at the time of Green Revolution, observed Dr. Prithvish Nag, Vice Chancellor, MG Kashi Vidyapeeth, India. Such an evolution requires higher skills in agricultural management, and this is where GeoICT has a role to play. He further added that this role is at two levels – production level (providing information on what and how much to produce) and at policy level.
Dr. Vinod Bothale, Director, Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre, remarked that there is very less land available for agriculture in India, while the demand for yield is increasing with growing population. Also, agriculture, which is the largest source of employment in India, is also the slowest growing sector. He said that farmers who understand market trends and market opportunities have a better chance of succeeding than those who don’t. All of this requires lots of information. This is where geospatial information and technology has a role to play. He highlighted several initiatives in India but also observed that these are mostly like advisories and they need to be extended to larger context. M. Moni, Deputy Director General, Agricultural Informatics Division, NIC, asked the audience about ‘how well do we know farmers,’ and added that we should have information about the farmers and develop user friendly systems accordingly while ensuring that the systems speak the language of farmers. He opined that there is a need for agriculture governance system and that is where GIS has a role to play. He also asserted that unless agriculture officers adopt the technology to deliver goods to people, the technology won’t have much meaning.
The session then witnessed several applications of the technology in agriculture. Dr. Tauqueer Ahmad, Senior Scientist, Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute demonstrated the estimation of area under agroforestry using remote sensing and GIS, since agroforestry according to him is the need of the hour for farmers for economic development. Kaushik Banerjee, Zonal Manager, Stesalit Ltd informed the audience about a solution developed by the company in agriculture, on integrated pest monitoring. Darsh Worah, Deputy Manager, National Dairy Development Board, shared how the organisation is working towards optimising milk procurement route using GIS. According to him, the Board is estimating annual savings of 6 percent through this optimisation.
Source: Our Correspondent