Hyderabad, India: The 15th edition of India Geospatial Forum kicked off in Hyderabad, India, today with a message that ‘geography-as-a-service’ can guide India towards becoming a geo-enabled economy. In his opening remark, C. Kandasamy, Director General (RD) & SS, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India, informed that the Ministry is developing GIS-based National Highways Information System. It is currently being tested by Central Road Research Institute (CSIR). He observed that geospatial-powered intelligence machine will be a reality.
“There are 47 lakh kilometres of road network, 80,000 kilometres of national highway network,” said Kandasamy, adding, “The Ministry is also planning 80,000 kilometres of express ways (green ways).” In addition, the Ministry is planning intelligent transportation system. He said that highways’ travellers need information in their language about important POIs like petrol pumps, hospitals, et al. And, there is a communication gap between users and service providers which is proving hindrance for businesses. Indian highways sector is in PPP model. He called for a PPP model for location-based solutions to fill this gap. He said, “Indian Roads Congress will soon have some pilot projects to assess the potential usages and benefits of geospatial technologies. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways have already launched some of the mega pilot projects. I will welcome participation of geospatial companies in pilot projects.”
Earlier, Sanjay Kumar, CEO, Geospatial Media and Communications Pvt. Ltd., said that about 15 years back, GIS was all about visualisation but now when we use the term ‘geospatial’, it represents entire ecosystem of positioning and mapping technologies, powerful visualisation of GIS and its integration with engineering, work flows, business processes, and each and every human activity. He said, “How can and how should geospatial information play a very critical role in enabling economic activities? We aim to promote this thought process with the help of this conference. The key highlight of India Geospatial Forum is to engage provincial governments. We are planning to take the advocacy of geospatial technologies at ‘Panchayat’ level. ”
Kumar observed, “In the last five years, the world is witnessing an economic recession or economic slowdown which is still carrying on beyond the industry’s expectations. Nevertheless, this economic slowdown is an opportunity in itself because that’s when the real value and real taste of what we are doing is measured.” He added, “During my interaction with several users worldwide, I have realised that that they are finding geospatial technologies much more valuable than ever before.”
During the Opening Plenary, Arvind Thakur, CEO, NIIT Technologies Ltd., India, said, “World is facing huge challenges like political and social conflicts, climate change, water scarcity and so on. We need better understanding to address these challenges. With digital workflow, GIS makes us understand these challenges.” He added, “Now-a-days, e-governnace is a very popular term and GIS is at its core. Most of the government programmes are functioning in silos, GIS technology can integrate them and help governments. For example, by integrating national land record programme with urban planning, we can have better planning for urban areas. So we can derive a new term ‘g-governnace’.”
Thakur informed that NIIT Technologies is working with Ministry of Home Affairs to develop a databse for geo-coded FIR. He observed, “GIS has embraced evolution of IT and the new buzzword ‘cloud’. Pervasive desktops and smartphones have made GIS accessible to many people. Many technologies are converging and they are offering many opportunities. It is virtually making GIS accessible on all devices. So, it is all about ‘geography-as-a-service’. In this context, data policy is very important. And, cloud will drive this technological development.”
John Graham, President, Intergraph SG & I, USA, stated that geospatial technologies integrate real and digital world. He said that according to the US Department of Labor, geospatial industry is one amongst 14 sectors which promises most of the jobs during the time of recession. Graham cited many success stories of geospatial practices. Some of them include:
-In the UK, investment of GBP 1 in geospatial technologies provided GBP 25 as a return.
-In Australia, geospatial technology significantly contributed in raising the GDP from USD 6 billion to USD 12 billion.
-In Western Australia, using geospatial technologies, agricultural department contained 70 per cent of high density locust swarms that was threatening the produce.
-In Texas, Oncor Energy saved 20 per cent outage using geospatial technology.
-In Sao Paulo, Brazil, GIS helped reduce response time for ambulance services from 35 minutes to 10 minutes.
Source: Our Correspondent