‘Unleash the power of geospatial info’

‘Unleash the power of geospatial info’


Hyderabad, India: An elegant ceremony marked the inaugural of Geospatial World Forum 2011 here today which saw the confluence of diverse stakeholders in geospatial sector discussing the ‘Dimensions and Directions of Geospatial Industry’.

Calling on the geospatial professionals to unleash the power of geospatial information, chief guest Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences; Human Resources Development; and Communications and Information Technology pointed out that any technology, including geospatial technology, is an enabler and a vehicle through which information could be delivered to the citizens, empowering them. The national geospatial data authority bill, which is on the anvil, will be a great step in this direction, he opined. He informed that Survey of India has embarked on creating a national topographic database on 1:10 K scale for all the rural areas of the country. The project will also produce 1:2 K maps for the cities and 1:1 K scale maps for the metros. The minister said the project will be completed in three years and added that once the maps are in public domain, they will open up several sectors.

Information is a public good and government strongly believes in making 75-80 percent of geospatial information available to the citizens subject to the concerns of security, the minister said. To empower common people with this information, Sibal said the government is working on a framework of licensing and a regulatory policy which would streamline the activities of geospatial sector. He called on the industry to be an equal partner in communicating the meaning and utility of geospatial technology to one and all exuded confidence that India will be a breeding ground of geospatial solutions in the future.
Keynote address

Detailing the high level of awareness level and commitment towards geospatial technology at the highest level of policy making in the country, Dr K Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission, said  – geospatial industry in India has several supporters including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and added that the prime minister has mandated the Planning Commission to use geospatial tech for national development in the subsequent Five Year Plan. He then discussed various policy initiatives to take geographic information more closer to the common man.  He called on the citizens to demand development and create a participatory movement for more geographic data.  To enable this, Dr Rangan said, the government is working on establishing a national system for GIS. The idea is to synergise many spatial data systems available across the country and create a seamless system to access data. Further to this, the national task force will look into the capacity requirements for this industry and evolve a geospatial culture in the country. This task force will look at building geospatial capacities at school, university, higher education and research level.  

Earlier, welcoming the gathering, Dr MP Narayanan, Chairman, GIS Development, outlined the core philosophy of the Forum in bringing together all the stakeholders of geospatial industry – policy makes, professionals, industry and the academia – to raise the awareness levels about the increasing relevance of geospatial technology in every day life.

Delivering the message of KK Singh, President Association of Geospatial Industries and Chairman, Rolta Group, Atul D Tayal, Joint Managing Director, Rolta India Ltd, said advances in space technology, internet and GIS have significantly transformed the way we live. With latest technology making all things easy, the one challenge that remains now is to make the fruits of this technology reach the common man. Enumerating the business drivers for the industry, Atul said that the one input required to make exciting solutions in this sector is ‘geographic information’. While on one hand technology has enabled the production of quality geospatial information, on the other more than half of the world still remains to be mapped, giving a huge opportunity for the geospatial industry, he said.  

According to Atul, Indian geospatial industry is fast growing and maturing and is the final frontiers for the industry. He said, while opportunity is enormous in India, challenges too are huge. He concluded saying that the Association of Geospatial Industries is a step towards organising geospatial industry in taking on these challenges and harness the potential of this technology and contribute positively to the country’s economy.

Emeritus Prof Fraser Taylor – Chairman, UN International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM), stressed the significance of location information to all aspects of modern society. But to realise its potential, he said several challenges need to be met. In this direction, he said, we need to enable more effective data sharing among stewards of locationally referenced data; enable a greater degree of interoperability between and among datasets; make location data an integrated part of mainstream ICT and not a standalone system; link geographic information more effectively with socio-economic information; effective spatial management of geospatial information. In the emerging digital economy, Prof Taylor said, there are an increasing number of participatory information infrastructures and added that these should be integrated with more formal approaches, communicate the results of analyses in more effective manner.

Calling climate change as the greatest challenge of the century, Dr Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India enumerated the significance of geospatial technology in understanding the complex interaction between and among different components like atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere etc. He then touched upon the important services that are enabled by geospatial technologies through proper understanding of climate and weather conditions. Ocean and seabed mapping is the next big frontier for geospatial industry as future generations will increasingly depend on ocean for their resources, he said.  Presenting the vote of thanks, Maj Gen Dr R Siva Kumar, CEO, NSDI expressed optimism over completing the designated tasks so that geospatial technology could be brought more closer to the citizens.  

GIS Development Awards
The Geospatial World Forum 2011 recognised the exemplary contributions made by organisations and professionals to the growth of geospatial technology and industry around the world. The following organisations/professionals bagged the GIS Development awards –
1.    Premier Mapping Agency:  Natural Resources Canada
2.    Education / Capacity Building for geospatial technology: Department of Geography, University Of California, Santa Barbara (Dr. Val Noronah)
3.    Geospatial Personality of Decade: Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey, UK
4.    Leading Professional Society: International Cartographic Association (ICA)
5.    World Leaders in Geospatial Technology: Rolta Group
6.    Lifetime Achievement : Dr. K Kasturirangan

Source: Our Correspondent