People-centric tech, the way ahead

People-centric tech, the way ahead

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Hyderabad, India: Plenary III at Geospatial World Forum 2011 explored various facets of geospatial industry. The plenary was chaired by Anil K Sinha IAS, Vice Chairman of Bihar State Disaster Management Authority and speakers included Prashant Shukle, Director-General Mapping Info, Natural Resources, Canada, Jurgen Dold, President & CEO of Leica Geosystems, Switzerland, Shankar Agarwal IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India and Manny Rios, Senior Vice President, P&C Underwriting, USAA, United States. Minister for Information Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Ponnala Laxmaiah, delivered a special address.

Prashant Shukle, delivering the Late Dr Robert Moses Memorial Lecture, instituted by Open Geospatial Consortium, recalled the commitment of Late Dr Robert Moses to the field. He said the Geospatial technology was essential to help make the world a better place for our descendents. Dr Moses was trained to be a medical practitioner who gave up medical practice to help develop the geospatial technology and was a strong votary of Open technologies, Shukle recalled.  

He called for the bridging of the divide between those who understand the power of geospatial technologies and those who do not. He raised the question of ‘trust’ in the dissemination of information and underlined the need for viewing at more sources of information and not being restricted to considering Government alone as the ‘trusted’ source of geospatial information.  Discussing the evolving nature of the Spatial Data Infrastructure, he discussed the role of citizenry in providing data in realtime. The Government role is changing from creator of information to a facilitator of the use of information. Talking about privacy which has become a major obstacle for micro-views, he said that it was more an issue of personal security.

Jurgen Dold, President and CEO of Leica Geosystems, Switzerland delineated the long legacy of his company, now a part of the Hexagon Group, in providing air borne surveillance imaging. He talked of the importance of tracking of changes by Mother Nature, changes created by mankind. Reminding everyone that there is no ‘spare earth’, Dold urged people to understand, plan and develop the existing resources.  He underlined the importance of dynamic updation of GIS to capture reality and create infrastructure, manage and share it. He talked about the capabilities of his Group of Companies in geospatial imaging and how the high resolution imaging helped in create 3D terrain modeling for flood mapping, among other uses. He also highlighted the web-based road management system provided by Erdas in Uttar Pradesh. Stressing upon the need for good quality equipment he said: “You simply cannot manage what you don’t measure.” He talked at length the many solutions and services his group of companies provided.

Shankar Aggarwal IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, spoke about the Application of GIS in National e-Governance Plan. “The 9 per cent growth of the Indian economy is neither sustainable nor sufficient,” he said and pointed out that the present growth being seen was mainly an urban-driven growth and that the rural economy was continuing to grow at 2.5 to 3 per cent. Pointing out that a third of India was below the poverty line, he said that a 11-12 per cent annual growth rate was essential to ensure that these one-third of the population got a taste of prosperity.  Governance is essential to ensure growth and e-Governance was one way of ensuring greater access of governance to the people. Majority of the people do not have access to institutional services like health, education and finance, he noted and called for a paradigm shift in the way we work to ensure inclusive growth.  Calling for harnessing Information Technology to improve access to resources like teachers, he termed e-Governance as empowered governance. He outlined the steps being taken to improve the access to governance and said that the focus was on services and service levels. He called for Centralised initiative and decentralized implementation apart from capacity building for effective e-Governance. He outlined the implementation plan for the e-Governance as envisaged by the Department of IT. He called for making it mandatory for the GIS data to be updated to ensure proper use of the information by the people.

Manny Rios, Senior Vice President, P&C Underwriting, USAA, United States, spoke about the initiative of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation that was established in the United States as a not-for-profit organization. The vision of the organization was to ensure greater use of the GIS information and reduce the impact of disasters like Katrina. Public Safety and Homeland Security organizations have access to and know how to use geospatial technology for preparedness and mitigation. He said that the Foundation was working on outreach, education and training, information clearinghouse, apart from developing tools for their use.

Training users to ensure that the information was used, they have conducted Public Safety GIS workshops and community managers of the information. He talked of development of new applications like twitter that can be used to pinpoint a disaster location speeding up the relief operations.

The Chairman of the session, Anil K Sinha, underscored the need for development and pointed out that in Bihar the Nitish Kumar Government returned only on the development plank and the other parties that did not include it in their agenda were routed at the hustings. He called for greater decentralization as envisaged in the 73rd and 74th amendments. He called for micro-level utilization of GIS. Referring to the rehabilitation of people affected by floods in the river Kosi, he called for greater understanding of the ground realities. New houses need to be built without having to uproot the people from their existing habitations, was a great challenge in the rehabilitation programme he said. He called for usage of GIS to correct the imbalances and help in inclusive growth and underscored the need for a change in the development paradigm.

The Minister for Information Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Ponnala Laxmaiah, called upon the industries to look at the Advantage Hyderabad and set up their operations here. He said that initiatives like GIS were essential to promote greater welfare of the stakeholders. He said there was vast potential in development of technologies like the GIS which have a vast reach. Noting that a large number of private companies and Government agencies were involved in this sector, he said that there was great potential for the development of such an industry in Andhra Pradesh which is known as the intellectual capital of India.  He said the Government of Andhra Pradesh has included GIS in the school curricula and was actively using it in land records, water management and pointed out his state was in the forefront of harnessing information technology.

Source: Our correspondent