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‘INGO should not be regulatory body’

New Delhi, India: “Indian National GIS Organisation (INGO) should be an enabling organisation and not a regulatory body.” This was a common sentiment expressed by geospatial experts who had gathered in New Delhi to be part of National GIS Workshop. The day-long event, which was organised by Planning Commission and Ministry of Earth Sciences, saw experts discuss how and what needs to be done to set up an effective online information bank in the country, National GIS under INGO.

The professionals agreed that there is a need to focus on standardisation so that data collected by one organisaton can be easily understood and used by others. The idea of having a common interface for sharing and accessing data was welcomed by one and all. “There is a need to have a database which serves at different levels,” said Dr Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, MoES/ Chairman, ICG, adding, “We are looking towards a system where we can integrate different types of data.” Agreed Wg Cdr A K Jha (retd), General Manager, Business Development Security, Government & Infrastructure, LGGI India Pvt. Ltd (An ERDAS company), “There should be one place where all collected data is stored. Anyone who requires data should get the data from that platform. This way, we will be able to avoid duplication of work.”

While data integration and collaboration was the focus of the day, lack of skilled workforce in this sector was also a concern raised by many at the event. Prof N L Sarda, Professor, IIT-Bombay, in his talk, ‘Capacity-building for National GIS’ stressed upon the need to create awareness among students and focus on educational research in this sector. Added Dr T Ramasami, Secretary, DST, “We need to create an enormous human capacity to be able to master this technology. We need to create strong institutional capacity building.” Emphasis was also laid on encouraging private participation in this sector, especially in major infrastructural projects.

Some of the other issues raised were the need to encourage feedback from citizens to ensure better interaction between government and citizens and bringing in accountability in the system. Experts suggested that data should be made easily accessible to people/ users and it also should be ensured that the information available on the portal is validated before being made available for use.

The workshop saw speakers talk about successful GIS projects implemented by their organisations and how the projects have helped them carry out their tasks efficiently. While Dr Vandana Sharma, DDG, NIC discussed in detail the work carried out by NIC throughout the country, Dr Satish Shenoi, Director, INCOIS, focused his presentation on India Tsunami Early Warning System, and Sushil Kumar, JS (e-Panchayat) talked about e-governance in panchayati raj. Talking about GIS implementation in Gujarat state, Dr TP Singh, Direct General, BISAG, said, “We have simplified technology and customised it as per our requirements.” Meanwhile, Dr Subba Rao, Surveyor General, Survey of India (SOI), discussed in detail about 1:10K mapping project, adding, “We will be using satellite technology for producing maps. It is for the first time that SOI is joining hands with Department of Space.”

The day witnessed healthy exchange of ideas between the organisers and the audience, prompting Dr K Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission, to say, “Most of people are interested in setting up this kind of system. We should be able to meet the expectations.” Nayak too sounded optimistic when he said, “Based on available data and technology, we will begin the process and gradually build the database. By the end of three years, we will be ready to serve the nation.”

National GIS aims to aid in planning and transform governance by setting up a one-stop database of the country’s natural and physical assets. This database will provide information about government schemes and plans and encourage feedback from citizens.

Source: Our Correspondent