Agendra Kumar, managing director, Esri India spoke to Dataquest about how the Jal Jeevan Mission is benefiting the people of the country, and how geographic information system can help solve the water crisis.
DQ: You are working with the Indian Government on various initiatives. What are your views on the Jal Jeevan Mission?
Agendra Kumar: Water is a precious natural resource and water ecosystems have been lifeline for economic development for ages. With growing population and water security concerns, ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’, is a timely initiative that is addressing the country’s safe and affordable drinking water challenges holistically. Use of innovative technologies including GIS is a welcome move which will foster sustainable water resource management, which is the need of the hour. Governments and private water utility agencies are already using Esri Technology for bringing together multi-disciplinary actors on a unified platform for decision support and collaboration. Time has come to scale these by integrating GIS with advanced technologies like AI, ML, IoT.
DQ: What are your views on the way technology is being applied in the mission?
Agendra Kumar: Digital transformations across the mission critical initiatives play a vital role in strengthening nation’s water resilience. By harnessing geographic context, integrated technology environments provide unmatched capabilities to discover insights from within data and transform how governments and communities see, think and act towards integrated water resource management.
While conventional GIS offers powerful tools for the collection, storage, management, and intuitive visualization of data from multiple disparate sources, advanced GIS capabilities like spatial modelling and predictive analysis using artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data provide enhanced situational awareness for accurate forecast of likely water scenarios to mitigate, plan and respond, including the impact of changing economic, demographic, and climatic conditions.
Simulation models provide decision-makers with interactive tools for understanding the physical system and judging how actions on the ground can affect the overall water ecosystems. Mobile GIS tools play a vital role in democratizing geo-information and empowering stakeholders with real-time information for informed decisions and risk mitigation. With powerful collaboration capabilities, geospatial infrastructure promotes collective problem-solving and perhaps most critical of all, building robust water resilience based on data and insights.
DQ: What are the kind of opportunities that the Mission can make available for the Geospatial Industry?
Agendra Kumar: GIS technologies have wide applicability in ensuring safe and affordable drinking water supply in urban and rural environments. Leveraging the context of location GIS aids in design, model, planning and maintenance of water distribution networks helping the utilities to optimize costs and improve turnaround times. A geo-enabled water supply platform supports asset management, outage management, leakage / pilferage management, and emergency response management across the water distribution life cycle.
GIS platform integrated with IoT, SCADA and other components of the distribution systems by leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence offer numerous opportunities for automation and operational improvement. Real time data delivered via easy-to-understand maps and apps create transparency and understanding improving citizen engagement and citizen services.
GIS driven District Metered Area (DMA) approach aids in better management of the water distribution systems and benefit in reduction of non-revenue water, improvement of water quality, optimize energy consumption, mitigate leakages, pilferages, and contaminations. With heavy reliance on natural resources for water especially in rural parts, water conservation efforts will be the lifeline for future sustainability. 3D Village Contour Maps serve as very effective tools for planning interventions. GIS technologies can assist the stakeholders in various interventions viz. a) Water harvesting, ridge area treatment, b) Water conservation plans c) Soil and moisture conservation d) Rainfall management e) Minor Irrigation (both surface and ground water) and micro irrigation and f) Agronomic measures to maximise use of water while minimising irrigation requirement.
Given the complex multidisciplinary nature of the water related processes, geospatial infrastructure offers unmatched capabilities for revealing deeper insight in relationships and patterns, answer complex questions, and informed decisions for fostering sustainable water resource management from “source to tap” including water ecosystems, water supply, water quality and water resilience.