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‘GIS is a great enabler of information’

Noida, India: GIS is coming up in a big way in India. The 13th Esri India User Conference explored how GIS technology is used in almost every sector in the country. Dr Vandana Sharma, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre called for increasing public delivery of information and data. “Information is there in the verticals and what we need is horizontal exchanges of information. Time is now to integrate this information,” she said, adding in such a scene GIS can play a big role. “GIS is known to be a great integrator and enabler of information.”

Dr Sharma also disclosed that the NIC will be partnering the telecom department in its endeavour to lay optical fibre network in the entire country connecting about 250,000 panchayats. The project will extensively use GIS. The INR 35,000-crore project has a timeframe of 18 months. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Bharat Broadband Nigam Ltd has been created for the purpose, the MoU for which was signed on Wednesday.

Earlier, in his inaugural address, S. Sridhar, President & COO, NIIT GIS Ltd, said this was the 16th year of ESRI India, which has grown into a vibrant community with over 3,000 customers spread across multiple domains. The company added 160 new users in last one year.

Speaking on the use GIS technology and its advancement in India, Sridhar said one of the biggest challenges India faced was the lack of qualified professionals. He said NIIT has been in close contact with leading academic institutions to address this issue. “Unless we have the professionals to understand, absorb and view geospatial technology, the expansion of this technology is difficult,” he added.

As part of Esri India’s achievement over the past one year, Sridhar also mentioned vice chairman Rajesh Mathur, who was awarded the lifetime achievement award by Geospatial Media and Communications at the India Geospatial Forum held in Gurgaon in January.

Geospatial technology is playing a critical role in helping us understand many of the challenges we are facing — climate change, social unrest, loss of biodiversity, economic slowdown, said Arvind Thakur, CEO, NIIT Technologies.

Thakur, who was speaking on the, said in order to deal with these situations, we need to understand the background and GIS helps us in doing that. Thakur also expressed hope that following the debate in Parliament, the Bill on retail FDI would finally be passed as it would be huge booster for the geospatial industry in India.

Sharing the technology vision of this company, Dean Angelides, Director, International Operations, Esri, said India was very important from the industry point of view because there was so much more happening here than anywhere else in the world. GIS is becoming infrastructure, not just information. It’s becoming a trend in the US, Europe, China, developed cities in the Middle East like Abu Dhabi etc.

“GIS is becoming so popular and so critical because maps communicate. They titillate both the left and the right side of our brain. They help us understand, plan, imagine. So GIS integrates and creates collaboration. Maps help us understand and know things, help in faster decision making.”

ESRI also awarded some of its users for outstanding applications of geospatial technology. The ESRI India Special Achievement in GIS Award had three recipients. The first awardee, National Centre of Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) under the Ministry of Environment and Forests used geospatial technology to integrate coastal data and complete the national shoreline coast assessment for the entire coastline of mainland India.

The National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, a key functionary of ISRO, disseminates more than 50,000 data pieces annually which is being consumed by various research and monitoring projects. The NRSC was awarded for bringing about “every conceivable social relevance” to geospatial technology – from natural resources to environment, weather to disaster management and structural development.

The Gujarat Forest Department bagged the award for developing and implementing a project based on mobile GIS application. The project not only highlights the use of GIS in effective forest management but also focuses on an integrated approach in capacity building of the forest department and also effective protection of flora, fauna, biodiversity and environment as whole.

The ‘Making a Difference Award’ is given to people/institutions who are changing the lives in the society. The Orissa Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA), the state-level education agency in Orissa with the goals of universal elementary education under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, was selected this year because of its use of GIS technology. OPEPA has accumulated a comprehensive databank of the schooling system capturing the location details of each school along with its latitude and longitude in the state through sustained implementation of the district information system enabling the authority to effectively monitor the delivery mechanism of primary education across the state.

Source: Our Correspondent