Adopting GIS

Growth in the use of spatial technologies has secured acceptance
for geospatial technology as an effective decision-making tool even by
government agencies. They have realized that this technology can provide them
the much-needed tool to address the ever-increasing demand for data
availability. The technology, today, is widely used in integrated land
information systems, land reform offices, education sector, and urban planning.

According to a recent study conducted by Geospatial Today in
association with Antrix Corporation and Survey of India in May 2006, the
Geographical Information System (GIS) market (domestic and export) is expected
to record a potential growth from Rs 962 crore ($209 mn) in the year 2005 to Rs
2,820.30 crore ($613 mn) by 2010 at a CAGR of 14.5%.

The study, which focused on different parts of the geospatial
industry including geospatial data, services (including remote sensing),
products and export of geospatial services from India, estimates that the
domestic market for these services amounts to about Rs 562 crore ($122 mn) in
fiscal 2005, and is expected to reach Rs 1,824.3 crore ($396 mn) by 2010, at a
CAGR of 17.6% per annum. The key driver for this increased growth is the
expected investments in land information systems (ILIS) in several states across
the country.

extensive use of GIS is palpable in various fields like laying pipelines,
building roads, and laying transmission grids

Though the awareness of GIS-based applications is in its initial
phases, due to extensive research and education many government/semi-government
agencies and corporate organizations have recognized that this technology can
provide them the much-needed tool to address the increasing demand for data
availability through a highly visually intuitive decision making tool that gives
you a panoramic view instead of a myopic view. The basic premise is to leverage
spatial data for increased productivity.

In India, the central and state governments are major users of
geospatial applications since most of the basic infrastructure is owned and
managed by them. The extensive use of GIS is palpable in various fields like
laying pipelines, building roads, laying transmission grids etc.

Several large private sector organizations have also started
extensive usage of GIS in utility mapping and asset management, retail and
logistics management, pipelines and refineries, integration with CRM,
location-based services, and agriculture produce management.

Today, the government of India and almost all state governments
are convinced of the fact that to retain the over all economic growth of the
country and have a continuous FDI inflow as well, substantial investment on
infrastructure is very much needed. Besides this, most of the mega
infrastructure projects have already started rolling, and are making reasonably
good progress. Some of the best examples of such projects are Rajiv Gandhi
Drinking Water Mission, National Highways Development Project (East-West and
North-South Corridors, Golden Quadrilateral, etc), Water Resources (Major
Irrigation, Interlinking of rivers, interstate water dispute resolution), Yamuna
Action Plan, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, National Urban
Information System, National Hydrology Project, National Agricultural Technology
Project, and the APDRP Power Reforms projects.

Also, to sustain the current economic growth, India would
require a large number of new projects to provide the required infrastructure.
The heartening news is that most of the existing projects are reasonably on
schedule in spite of several initial hiccups, and some have been successfully
completed too.

Having said that, there are several major challenges that the
industry still faces:

  • GIS and Remote sensing application software require high-end
    computers with high end-graphics cards which, at the moment, are
    comparatively expensive in India. But this problem will cease to persist
    gradually as prices of hardware keep going down.

  • GIS Awareness and education levels are still low in India.
    It has yet to proliferate fully in the formal technical education space
    (graduate degree programs, and diplomas), even though many universities
    and colleges have started teaching GIS in PG programs.

  • The last but the biggest constraint is the easy availability
    of spatial data. In India, most of the organizations that have adopted GIS
    are still spending a lot of money and time on building data. One of the
    reasons attributable to this is the disparity between the various systems
    from which data has to move from one form to another before the final
    desired output is available. The second reason is very tight government
    control on spatial data acquisition and high cost of satellite and aerial

The prospect of geospatial as a market is huge looking at the
investment that is going in to the infrastructure industry. Also, the adoption
of GIS applications is gaining very high popularity and mindshare in most of the
core infrastructure development areas like roads and highways, hydrology,
hydro-power, bridges, land development and earthwork, grading, site planning,
and power distribution.

Manideep Saha, head,
Infrastructure Solutions, India & SAARC Region

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