Gurgaon, India: Geospatial technology can play a significant role in managing national development programmes. The plenary panel session, Managing National Development Programmes through Geo-ICT, on the inaugural day of India Geospatial Forum, being organised here by Geospatial Media and Communications, highlighted instances of this role and also deliberated on various issues related to it.
Dr. RC Sethi, Additional Registrar General, Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India informed the audience about the use of GIS in its activities to fulfill the objective of ‘no omission, no duplication.’ The Office is incorporating digitised boundary of more than 6 lakh villages, maps of 8000 towns upto ward level, notional maps upto street and house level and satellite based digital maps of 33 capital cities upto street and building level. A new GIS initiative is the establishment of CensusInfo Dashboard wherein users can obtain census information about any area from a map available on its website.
Kaushik Chakraborty, Country Head, India and SAARC, Intergraph SG&I India Pvt Ltd, elaborated on the benefits of Geo-ICT in national development. According to him, governments, be it local, regional, or central level, are under increased pressure to provide safe infrastructure, increase transparency in decision making, improve public services and offer services at lower costs due to budget constraints. It is geospatially integrated solutions that can help them address these issues. Geospatial information has a role to play in ensuring safety of cities too. Kaushik stressed that reliable, integrated geospatial applications are needed to transform vast amounts of data into intelligent information and promote interoperability to enable multi-agency cooperation. The key benefit of GeoICT in governance programmes is that it provides location- based understanding of all assets including land, infrastructure, resources and people. It also provides accurate, authoritative, actionable and dynamic information.
Manish Choudhary, MD, Pitney Bowes Software India expressed that while GIS holds tremendous potential for governance programmes, its use is still in fringes. The main reason for this according to him is that its implementation is very traditional that needs to be reinvented to maintain its relevance. The road ahead for GeoICT according to him includes convergence (the integration of GIS with other aspects like workflow management, BI tools, logistics and market analysis), neogeography (user-generated geographic content), crowdsourcing and cloud.
An industry perspective on geospatial technology was offered by Katherine Sandford, General Manager, Geospatial Division, Trimble in her guest address. Talking about evolution of geospatial data, Katherine observed that geospatial data has evolved from paper maps, to GIS and now toward 3D virtual models of our world. Never before has geospatial information been accessed by so many people, through platforms like social media. Smart phone has made its users surveyors, in the sense of creating geospatial information that can be accessed by others. Integrated technologies that can collect 216 billion data points per hour will begin to commoditise positioning. All these factors are necessitating change in approach towards geospatial data. To this end, Katherine noted, some companies are already changing their approach as they combine conventional land-based surveying and GIS data collection methodologies with aerial and land mobile capability. The result of this is that the process gives more than just position – it gives intelligence for decision making tools and this evolution is changing paradigms for various industries.
The Indian geospatial ecosystem can do with certain reforms in order to fully realise the benefits of geospatial technology towards governance. Prof Arup Dasgupta, Managing Editor, Geospatial World, analysed India’s geospatial trajectory and observed that the key challenges facing the Indian geospatial industry are unwillingness to share data, inadequate human resources, and the need to align data policies to technological advances. He also made certain recommendations with regard to the data policies. Some recommendations for the Map Policy included making the Open Series Maps completely unrestricted; providing slope and aspect maps derived from height information; charging royalty on map reuse through value addition but not demanding IP rights and base map series having lower positional accuracy for thematic mapping. Key recommendations for the Remote Sensing Data Policy included deregulating all old high resolution satellite imagery (2 years for satellite imagery, 5 years for aerial imagery); deregulating data from sensors like SAR and LiDAR; and availability of foreign satellite data up to one metre resolution directly from suppliers.
Key recommendations for SDI included making data sharing mandatory; evolving national standards for thematic data; considering calibrated access with record of transactions and IP address trace back for security, and establishing an empowered committee consisting of representatives from all sectors to review policy every six months. Recommendations to address human resource issues included introduction of electives in existing courses in computer science, statistics, mathematics, geography, physics, life sciences, social sciences, engineering and management, and introducing geospatial applications and technology in schools so that it becomes a career option for the students entering college.
Prof. Dasgupta also asserted that where public private partnership is concerned, that the government lays great emphasis on, efforts should be there towards promoting volunteered geographic information as a source of data and firming up the participation of private industry by taking their role beyond services and contracts. He concluded that Indian problems are unique and require unique Indian solutions and that the induction of geospatial technology is an urgent necessity.
Source: Our Correspondent