Infrastructure spending boosts geospatial market in India

Infrastructure spending boosts geospatial market in India

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India, 5 January 2007 – Everywhere you look in India there’s a infrastructure development project going on. Be it a highway, a dam or a power plant—all these projects make use of a combination of CAD and GIS or geospatial services.

Growing demand for spatial technologies such as GIS-based maps and satellite imagery have secured acceptance for geospatial technology in India. It is now looked upon as an effective decision-support tool, that can be used for effective planning and execution in infrastructure development projects.

These developments have led to the integration of CAD (Computer Aided Designing) and the GIS (Geographical Information System) tools. Although this trend is still nascent, a substantial market is emerging. This technology is being largely used in India for integrated land information systems, in the education sector and urban planning. Many government agencies have realised benefits that this technology provides.

A recent study conducted by Geospatial Today in association with Antrix Corporation and Survey of India in May 2006 focused on different aspects of the geospatial industry including geospatial data, services (including remote sensing and survey), software products and export of geospatial application services from India. As per this report, the domestic Indian market for these services is estimated to be in the region of Rs 562 crores (USD 128 million) for the fiscal ending March 2005 and is expected to reach Rs 1,824.28 crore (USD 412 million) by 2010 growing at a CAGR of 17.57 percent per annum. According to a recent study, in 2005 alone, the Indian government invited tenders worth a few hundred crores of rupees in this sector. The government is the biggest user of geospatial applications in the country.

Extensive use of GIS is palpable in various fields be it for laying pipelines, building roads or laying transmission grids. In India, land use mapping can be used extensively in agriculture and urban areas. The users of these services include ministry of rural development, ministries of agriculture and state government departments including land revenue. Along with land information systems, the transportation sector is another segment, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40 percent during the next five years. Urban development and planning is another area where geospatial technologies hold immense potential, according to the report.

– When CAD meets GIS
There is an increasing demand for well integrated design tools such as CAD and GIS software in the Indian infrastructure space. Integration helps professionals, throughout a project’s lifecycle, to exchange data and collaborate. Engineering and GIS professionals and their clients require tighter integration as they need precision in data capture, creation, and maintenance tools, whether for surveying, mapping, or engineering design.

They also require full process scope and lifecycle integration, so that they can pass digital geographic or design data transparently between team members, and, later, to downstream users, such as operations managers, facility managers, field technicians, and, in some cases, the general public. Varghese Daniel, Director, Wrench Solutions, says, “GIS-CAD integration has been of immense use in the infrastructure-construction space. The data collected from a GIS system is superimposed on architectural designs to know how the construction has shaped up, project status, workflow design and execution.”

Manideep Saha, Sales Development Manager, Infrastructure Solutions, Autodesk India explains, “The CAD and the GIS data are being integrated like never before. For instance, in the case of a water project where the GIS data helps in knowing as to what extent the land can be dug up, how much load it can take etc. This can be known after getting an overview of the land’s topographical data generated by a GIS tool. For laying the pipe network, extensive amounts of CAD data are used and there is perfect integration of CAD and GIS data.”

– Integration problems: a thing of the past
Earlier there were integration problems between CAD and GIS tools, which are being addressed today. Historically CAD has been identified with powerful creating and editing tools for engineering designs, and GIS has been associated with spatial analysis and mapping. Many organisations employ both CAD and GIS tools in different departments because these tools differ in their capabilities.

Data from CAD drawings was frequently imported or digitised for use in a GIS mapping environment. Unfortunately, this was often one-way traffic, with data losing accuracy and geometric precision resulting in users incurring liabilities for these errors. Rarely did the GIS software support the engineering precision and accuracy required in case the data has to be moved back to a CAD system for modification.

Earlier attempts to use CAD for GIS data creation and management were hampered by limitations including lack of data connectivity and topology, file-based storage of data and the fact that only one user could access data and associated information at any point of time. This has been solved by tools out in the market that have successfully integrated CAD and GIS to overcome these limitations. These tools combine accurate data entry, precision design and editing tools, and GIS data management and analysis. Additionally many tools now enable users to migrate or transfer data from one system to another and back again without risking data loss.

The prospect of geospatial services as a market is huge looking at the investments that are going into building infrastructure. It is believed that infrastructure projects in excess of Rs 48,000 crores (USD 10.8 billion) are underway in India.

– GIS at Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission
The Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission project prepares maps of potential ground water locations on a 1:50,000 scale. Maps are generated as GIS outputs by integrating inputs derived from satellite images with hydro geological data in the form of different thematic layers and ground water prospects. These maps provide comprehensive information on ground water prospects and are useful for narrowing target zones and selecting drilling sites and for planning recharge structures based on follow up ground surveys.

– Geospatial Technology at NHAI
NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) deployed a system called RIS (Road Information System), a Web-based system that integrates a linear referencing system for tracking the condition of pavements with geospatial data and analysis. It has data regarding highways on the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ), North-South (NS) and East-West (EW) corridors. The application provides information on various parameters such as National Highway location details of corridors, wayside amenities, bridge location and details, corridor environment related information, toll plaza location and toll data and construction contractor details. Over the GIS interface additional thematic and raster maps are available.

RIS was developed using Oracle Spatial and MapGuide. Initially it will manage about 20,000 km of national highways. An additional 45,000 km are on the anvil; ultimately RIS will manage over 65,000 km of India’s national highways. RIS is a comprehensive highway management system, which includes ten subsystems including asset management, traffic, pavement, environment, bridges, tolls, accidents, ad-hoc spatial queries, and HDM-4, an economic modelling tool.

The users of RIS will include ministries of the central and state governments, planning commission, financial institutions, highway contractors, toll companies, truck operators, state police, real estate developers, city managers, academic and research institutes, and the general public. This is a remarkable system in the range and amount of information and the analytical functionality that is integrated in one site.