CEOSPEAK: Geospa­tial Tech­nolo­gies for a smarter planet

FICCI Business Digest - - Contents - Rajesh Mathur*

Geospa­tial tech­nolo­gies are be­com­ing per­va­sive and are find­ing ap­pli­ca­tions across mul­ti­ple do­mains. These tech­nolo­gies are be­com­ing a cat­a­lyst for sev­eral trans­for­ma­tional changes in the world; pri­mar­ily in en­vi­ron­ment man­age­ment, ur­ban plan­ning, util­i­ties, se­cu­rity, emer­gency re­sponse, gov­er­nance and cit­i­zen en­gage­ment. Lo­ca­tion is an im­por­tant pa­ram­e­ter in vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of the func­tion­ing of the gov­ern­ment and hence Ge­o­graphic In­for­ma­tion Systems (GIS) would always be a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of most of the mis­sion mode projects con­cep­tu­al­ized and im­ple­mented by the gov­ern­ment. GIS would power sev­eral flag­ship projects an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment like Smart Cities, Dig­i­tal In­dia, In­te­grated Wa­ter­shed Man­age­ment Sys­tem, Na­tional Land Record Mod­erni­sa­tion Pro­gram, Swatchh Bharat Ab­hiyan, Mis­sion for Clean Ganga, Roads & High­ways, among oth­ers. While e-gov is the cur­rent par­a­digm, the fu­ture lies in em­bed­ding GIS in gov­er­nance and ser­vice de­liv­ery. GIS forms an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the Dig­i­tal In­dia project and should be lever­aged for de­ci­sion sup­port systems and de­vel­op­ment. Geospa­tial tech­nolo­gies have been in use in In­dia for more than two decades and form the core of sev­eral mis­sion crit­i­cal projects in the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor. The early users were na­tional map­ping agencies like Sur­vey of In­dia, Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia, De­part­ment of Space, Na­tional In­for­mat­ics Cen­tre, State Re­mote Sens­ing Cen­tres etc. who adopted these tech­nolo­gies to build foun­da­tion geospa­tial data sets. Sev­eral pi­lot projects were launched both by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment as well as states to de­ploy these tech­nolo­gies across var­i­ous do­mains like forestry, wa­ter re­source con­ser­va­tion and man­age­ment, ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and disas­ter man­age­ment. How­ever, the de­ploy­ment has been at de­part­men­tal level with minimal in­te­gra­tion re­sult­ing in cre­ation of si­los and lim­it­ing the benefits. Now is the op­por­tune mo­ment to con­sol­i­date the work al­ready done and ex­tend the benefits to all the stake­hold­ers.

Is­sues & Chal­lenges:

Some of the is­sues with the cur­rent sce­nario are: Lack of col­lab­o­ra­tion and shar­ing of data be­tween user or­gan­i­sa­tions lead­ing to du­pli­ca­tion in data cre­ation. This re­sults in not only cost es­ca­la­tion but also de­lays in project im­ple­men­ta­tion Lack of stan­dards be­cause of which data cannot be shared be­tween var­i­ous users Ab­sence of a com­mon data model to fa­cil­i­tate scal­a­bil­ity and ex­ten­si­bil­ity Some of the data avail­able with map­ping agencies is in CAD form and needs to be reengi­neered be­fore it is de­ployed in GIS projects Short­age of skilled GIS man­power which con­straints adop­tion of GIS by the user de­part­ments The key driv­ers for growth in us­age of geospa­tial tech­nolo­gies would be: Avail­abil­ity of Geospa­tial In­for­ma­tion Prod­ucts - Maps - Im­agery - Aerial Pho­to­graphs Ac­cu­rate, cur­rent and high scale maps Busi­ness Process Reengi­neer­ing Skilled Man­power En­abling Pol­icy Frame­work The last one is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant since an en­abling geospa­tial pol­icy will fa­cil­i­tate avail­abil­ity of au­thor­i­ta­tive, ac­cu­rate and stan­dards based geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion prod­ucts to all the users; en­sure that data is kept cur­rent and is avail­able both in hu­man and ma­chine read­able form. The pol­icy will pro­tect the in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights of data pro­duc­ers while en­cour­ag­ing cre­ation of value added prod­ucts thereby en­rich­ing it fur­ther and ex­tend­ing its us­age to a wide seg­ment of users.

Cur­rent Geospa­tial Pol­icy Frame­work:

Cur­rently there are five poli­cies that ad­dress dif­fer­ent as­pects of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion. They are: The Na­tional Map Pol­icy 2005 (NMP2005) de­fines scope, dis­tri­bu­tion, and ac­cess of to­po­graphic maps of Sur­vey of In­dia The Re­mote Sens­ing Data Pol­icy (RSDP 2001 and 2011) ex­plains process for dis­tri­bu­tion of satel­lite im­agery to var­i­ous types of users The Na­tional Data Shar­ing and Ac­ces­si­bil­ity Pol­icy 2012 (NDSAP 2012) rec­om­mends open ac­cess to data cre­ated with pub­lic funds, avail­able with gov­ern­ment de­part­ments The Civil Avi­a­tion Re­quire­ment (CAR) 2012, de­scribes pro­ce­dure for is­sue of per­mis­sion for flight clear­ance and geo­phys­i­cal sur­vey The Delhi Ge­o­graph­i­cal Spa­tial Data In­fra­struc­ture (Man­age­ment, Con­trol, Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Se­cu­rity and Safety), Act, 2011 defin­ing the manda­tory shar­ing, ac­cess­ing and util­i­sa­tion of Delhi GeoSpa­tial Data.

While each of the above poli­cies ad­dresses spe­cific as­pects of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion they to­gether do not fa­cil­i­tate avail­abil­ity of ac­cu­rate, au­thor­i­ta­tive and in­ter­op­er­a­ble data for the coun­try. There is a need for a com­pre­hen­sive geospa­tial con­tent pol­icy which would: Pro­mote use of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion across var­i­ous do­mains Make con­tent avail­able to all those who can ben­e­fit from it - Gov­ern­ment - Cit­i­zens - Busi­ness - NGOs - Academia Fa­cil­i­tate shar­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion Man­date adop­tion of stan­dards Elim­i­nate du­pli­ca­tion of data cre­ation ef­fort Keep data cur­rent Adopt con­tem­po­rary tech­nol­ogy to dis­sem­i­nate data - Dis­cover, ac­cess and

con­sume Pro­tect in­tegrity and sovereignty of the coun­try In the re­cent past there have been two ini­tia­tives from the gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce a geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion pol­icy.

They are:

Na­tional Geospa­tial Pol­icy 2016 (NGP 2016)

The pol­icy draft has been de­vel­oped by a com­mit­tee ap­pointed by De­part­ment of Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy. The com­mit­tee held con­sul­ta­tive meet­ings with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers to so­licit their views and rec­om­men­da­tions. Key as­pects of NGP 2016 are: Con­cep­tu­alised by DST Cur­rently at draft stage Ad­vo­cates level play­ing field – Gov­ern­ment and Pri­vate Sec­tor All geospa­tial data cre­ated us­ing pub­lic funds to be made avail­able free of cost Data, both in hu­man and ma­chine read­able form, must be made avail­able on mo­bile and In­ter­net plat­form En­sure open stan­dards based seam­less in­ter­op­er­a­ble data Data should be clas­si­fied into re­stricted and un­re­stricted and open ac­cess cat­e­gory based on fea­tures

Geospa­tial In­for­ma­tion Reg­u­la­tion Bill 2016 (GIRB 2016)

Draft de­vel­oped by Min­istry of Home Af­fairs A bill to reg­u­late ac­qui­si­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion, pub­li­ca­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion of In­dia which is likely to af­fect the se­cu­rity, sovereignty and in­tegrity of In­dia Pro­hibits wrong or false to­po­graphic in­for­ma­tion of In­dia in­clud­ing na­tional bound­aries Re­quires en­ti­ties en­gaged in geospa­tial data ac­qui­si­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion or dis­tri­bu­tion to ob­tain prior per­mis­sion of Se­cu­rity Vet­ting Author­ity It also de­fines the pun­ish­ment for vi­o­la­tion of the terms and con­di­tions of the li­cence Both the pol­icy ini­tia­tives are a wel­come de­vel­op­ment since they would pro­vide the frame­work for cre­ation, dis­sem­i­na­tion and us­age of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, some parts of the GIRB 2016 need to be re­viewed in or­der to pro­vide an en­abling pol­icy en­vi­ron­ment for wide spread us­age of geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion. They are: There should be no com­pro­mise on na­tional se­cu­rity, in­tegrity and sovereignty. Fur­ther na­tional bound­aries must be de­picted as per Gov­ern­ment of In­dia guide­lines. Also vi­tal in­stal­la­tions' in­ter­nal lay­out must be masked Data ac­qui­si­tion should not re­quire a li­cence. In­stead, en­ti­ties in­ter­ested in data ac­qui­si­tion and pro­duc­tion should reg­is­ter their plan on a data reg­istry por­tal hosted by the Se­cu­rity Vet­ting Agency. Be­fore pub­lish­ing their data sets they should get it vet­ted. No li­cence should be re­quired for dis­tri­bu­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion once data is vet­ted and cer­ti­fied. Should en­cour­age pri­vate sec­tor to par­tic­i­pate in data ac­qui­si­tion and pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in or­der to meet the users' need of a va­ri­ety of data sets for their projects. Pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies must also be en­cour­aged to cre­ate value added prod­ucts/ser­vices. No vet­ting should be re­quired for value added prod­ucts cre­ated by way of apps/ser­vices The pol­icy should sup­port var­i­ous modes for data dis­tri­bu­tion in­clud­ing Cloud, Web and mag­netic me­dia. The pol­icy must man­date data creators to share it with all oth­ers who can ben­e­fit from it. Fur­ther, the data pro­duc­ers must ad­here to stan­dards in or­der to make their prod­uct in­ter­op­er­a­ble. De­fine guide­lines for In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Rights, es­pe­cially for value added prod­ucts


Ap­pli­ca­tion of geospa­tial tech­nolo­gies can play key role in im­ple­men­ta­tion of var­i­ous gov­ern­ment pro­grams and build an ef­fec­tive re­view and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism. It will pro­vide a new par­a­digm in de­ci­sion mak­ing by en­abling ge­o­graph­i­cal vi­su­al­iza­tion and rep­re­sen­ta­tion of in­for­ma­tion. GIS based de­ci­sion mak­ing is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of electronic ser­vice de­liv­ery. It will help the bureau­crats in tak­ing more in­formed de­ci­sions lead­ing to: Strength­en­ing of gov­er­nance En­hanced trans­parency Im­prove­ment in cit­i­zen ser­vices A ro­bust all-en­com­pass­ing geospa­tial pol­icy will act as a cat­a­lyst in em­bed­ding geospa­tial in­for­ma­tion into var­i­ous busi­ness pro­cesses and build­ing pow­er­ful de­ci­sion sup­port systems - the foun­da­tion for de­vel­op­ing strate­gies to deal with the cur­rent chal­lenges and build­ing a smarter planet. * Rajesh Mathur is Ad­vi­sor, Esri In­dia and Chair­man, FICCI Com­mit­tee on Geospa­tial Tech­nolo­gies.

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