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‘Geospatial industry needs to integrate with mainstream information technology’

New Delhi, India: The geospatial industry has done fairly well over the years, with steady expansion and growth. But there has been a paradigm shift since those days. The nature of advancement of technology is such that the geospatial industry cannot exist on its own, it needs to integrate into the mainstream information technology. It is in this context that we need to address the future of this industry, observed Kapil Sibal, Hon’ble Minister, Human Resource Development and Minister of Communications and Information Technology, India. Sibal was addressing the Geospatial Artha Summit, organised here by Geospatial Media & Communications. He observed that India’s government is in reform mode, and hopefully we can also get some decisions for the geospatial industry which needs even more reforms.

Elaborating upon the widespread applications of geospatial information and its use in every sector of the economy, Sibal said that in India, the data amongst various departments is not integrated with each other and urged that it is the right time to create a national agency that houses this data. Data, he expressed, comes from Mother Earth so it cannot be possessed rather it should be shared by those who require it; however the data generating agencies can have certain stipulations in place that gives them some right over it. Where the industry is concerned, he said that the industry needs to approach things holistically. They need to be multidisciplinary if they want to create a framework where geospatial has a significant role to play. How competitive they are, the more profitable they will be, but that will depend on how holistic they are. On the education side, he stressed that school level education should have geospatial courses tailormade to requirements of the industry. The industry should help the academia create that syllabus.

Another issue that will arise according to him in the future is the quality of data. Consumers should not be mislead, they should be made aware of the kind of accuracy they are being provided, and in case there is any kind of redressal, then there should be a mechanism for it. He concluded that it is the consumer who has to be empowered.

The Summit was organised by Geospatial Media & Communications to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the world’s first map maker Gerardus Mercator, 50th anniversary of GIS that was first established in 1962 by Prof. Roger Tomlinson in Canada as a tool for natural resource management and land management in Canada, and 15th anniversary of Geospatial Media & Communications. As the Sanskrit term “artha” refers to purpose, value, wealth and economy, the Summit explored these dimensions in context of geospatial industry.

Globalisation of geospatial industry

Dr. BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, Infotech Enterprises India, traced the globalization of the geospatial industry over the last 20 years, providing a first-generation entrepreneur’s perspective on how Indian GIS companies contributed to the globalisation of the geospatial industry. From very poor penetration of GIS into government and private industry in late 1980s and early 1990s where there were enormous challenges in human capacities, processes and standardization, the company took steps towards building the ecosystem in 1990s, creating core competency and capacity building. The 2000s saw globalizing of the industry by getting closer to customers, segmentation to ensure specialisation, strengthening domain expertise, relationships and partnerships. He stressed that geospatial companies need to move up the value chain.

3D cadastre

Kees De Zeeuw, Director, Cadastre Land Registry and Mapping Agency, The Netherlands (Kadastre), dwelled upon 3D cadastre. He observed that buildings on any given price of land are not always straightforward – there can be layered buildings, complex buildings, above buildings, and under buildings. We therefore need 3D cadastre for better registration and visualization. The problem however is that establishing 3D cadastre is too labour intensive, out of budget scope and not a priority in times of economic recession. He informed the audience about the Electronic Butterfly 3D pilot initiated by Kadastre in this direction. The project aims to push 3D developments in the country by studying aspects of 3D SDI in an integrated manner, collaborating with many stakeholders on use cases, establishing SDI standards and sharing 3D technologies, ideas, data and needs in a non-competitive setting.

Economic value proposition

Ola Rollen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hexagon Group, discussed economic value proposition for the geospatial industry. He observed that it is one thing to create maps but the main issue is to make something meaningful out of it that can contribute for the society moving into the 21st century. The challenges facing the society include exponential population growth, urbanization leading to pressure on infrastructure and scarce resources as we do not have more resources or land than before. He demonstrated how geospatial technology / 3D can help address such issues, by citing instances of water requirement, water consumption and energy in China that were addressed using Hexagon sensors. He stressed that combining geospatial technology with real time information creates new systems that help to understand complex planning situations, resulting in huge economic benefits. The technological requirements for such outcome include having a multi-dimensional view, a dynamic platform, being context aware, mobility, and closing the gap between action and reaction.

Source: Our correspondent