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Interoperability, data duplicity issues mark NSDI annual meet

New Delhi, India: GIS experts in India are worried about the interoperability issues and the different versions of maps and data created by various government departments in India. The opening day of the two-day annual event of the National Spatial Data Centre, which was organised by the Office of the Registrar General of India in New Delhi, had experts debating over the theme National Geospatial Information System for sustainable development.

The event was attended by representatives of the nodal offices of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) across the country as well as GIS users in government and non-government sectors.

Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken, who was the chief guest at the event, kicked off the issue of multiple data sources and the issue of interoperability. “Some datasets are either inaccessible or out of date. In some cases, datasets are in nonstandard form and therefore cannot be used,” he said, while commending NSDI’s efforts towards striving to create an overarching framework for improving management of spatial data.

Presiding home the point that development planning is extremely information intrinsic and integration, Maken said analysis of spatial and non spatial data greatly enhanced the capability of programme administrators and helped in scientific decision-making. Giving example of how data can be used for welfare, he said even as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs earlier, he had used the data related to youth that was available for various sources in the country for development for youth welfare. Now, as the in charge of urban housing and poverty alleviation, Maken said he extensively used data for planning and formulation of policies.

The minister released the Atlas on ‘Houses, Household Amenities and Assets in 2011’ and NSDI Contents Standards-Soils. There was also an exhibition on GIS products by the participating agencies.

Dr Vandana Sharma, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, talked about how the NIC has created NICMAP from data from various departments like the Registrar General, the Survey of India, the Department of Space and other agencies. She said the dataset was now GIS-ready and was a rich repository of data for the country. “For NGIS, we have the complete repository of 50,000 scale, and the dataset contains all the state, districts, panchayats and all the 6 lakh-plus villages mapped onto GIS.” She added that NIC has adopted the census code and it conforms to all the standards and this has been done as per the directives from the Planning Commission. She also mentioned that the cloud set up of this data centre has also been inaugurated.

Earlier, harping on the issue of data duplicity, Dr Mukund Rao, member, National GIS of India, said when the NSDI was conceptualised in 2001 amid much fanfare as a national repository of data there was so much of hope around it. But in 2011-12, when the Planning Commission created the core group on National GIS there was feeling that nothing much had been done towards this end.

“There has been some work done on it. Departments talking, some of them are working together, cities taking up on urban applications and information system, but where is the metadata of the country? This is what NSDI was supposed to do and we still don’t have it,” he wondered.

“The NSDI portal is a pity today; it does not have all the metadata we are talking about. The Survey of India metadata is still on the NSDI portal,” he said, adding there were gaps.

He, however, said India was not the only one lagging in this space and other countries have also struggled with NSDI. “But in those countries, there has been a significant change in NSDI; corporates have taken over GIS data globally. In India too, a large amount of data which is available in the public domain is corporate data.”

“The government seems to be struggling to generate new types of GIS data. We need common standards for data, we need to set a timeline, we must have the Version 1.0 of the NGIS by one year,” he said adding that the government had finally realised this and had readied investment for about INR 3,000 crore into this.

Dr Rao concluded by saying, “[Now] If we don’t take up this challenge and remove all these confusion and duplicity that is coming in and bring in an institutional focus, we are going to lose out. By may be in 2022 all of us will be again dismayed and lost that nothing has happened and may be one East India GIS company will come and take up the entire GIS market.”

Maj. Gen. S.V. Chinnawar, who was speaking on the challenges in mapping for defence forces also harped on how duplicity of affects the working of the forces. Every department has data, they generate their own kind of data but there are no common standards for use, he said.

While some speakers like Dr. A.P. Singh, Deputy Registrar General, Map, S.K. Singh speaking on behalf of the Surveyor General of India Dr S. Subba Rao and Dr J.R. Sharma of the National Remote Sensing Centre chose to speak on how their respective departments were generating various kinds of data for the NSDI, others like Dr. A.K. Wahal, Director General, Forest Survey of India, and P.C. Mohanty, Deputy Director General, Central Statistical Organisation, explained how they were using this data for the work of their respective departments. Dr Wahal spoke on facilitating forestry geoinformation through web-enabled GIS and how FSI is partnering NSDI in this mission. Mohanty explained why socio economic data is extremely important in conjunction with spatial data.

Source: Our Correspondent