His Coordinates, Interviews

“NSDI must be used by common man”

Dec 2008 | Comments Off on “NSDI must be used by common man”

Dr R Siva Kumar CEO National Spatial Data Infrastructure on status and directions of NSDI in India

We are not hearing much about NSDI? What is the status of NSDI?

The vision behind NSDI is to make data available and accessible. Keeping this objective in mind policies and framework are formulated. Various aspects of digital data standardization are being looked into and consensus being developed. Right now we are laying the foundation. We are working on consensus. It is not easy as there are many different organisations involved. We are working hard to get the standards implemented.

Don’t you think it is taking too much time?

NSDI is a long term project and it needs continuous and consistent effort. We need to engage relevant and important organizations. We are fortunate that participating organisations are contributing to the goals of NSDI actively and constructively. It will take time. When we see how long it took the other countries, and where we are today – ‘we are not badly off, we are satisfied.”

What is lacking?

There is gap between the data and users. The available data mainly suffices the needs at national and regional level. However, data is also required at village level. The challenge before us is “how to create data that can be used for common man”. Ultimately, these data are to be used at village, community and individual level. Given the data needs at village level, I feel a a combination of both bottom up and top down approach would be more appropriate. If that happens, that will be the success of NSDI. The second point is that policy and the framework have been created. The data still has to come.

Recently ISRO Chairmen announced “Bhuvan”. Bhuvan seems to be positioned as India’s answer to Google? Don’t you think it is also a DOoS version of NSDI?

We must understand that when we talk about NSDI we are not talking only about mapping or satellite imageries. It goes much beyond that. Here we need to include various layers of information. At the same time initiatives like Bhuvan help us to meet our goal. Such initiatives are complementary in nature and only help us to meet our ultimate goal.

What do you need from industry in terms of hardware and software?

The market for GIS, in India has been vendor driven. The capacity building is an issue where industry can play an important role. The capacity building so far has been specific to packages – there has been no broadbased capacity building. Since there are not many GIS courses at graduate level, this vacuum can be filled in by industry. Another point is that industry needs to assure jobs, unless that happens, students will not join these courses even if such courses are available. Therefore the industry has to go for campus recruitment and ‘on the job trainings’ and adopting academic institutions

What about open source GIS?

We are part of it and we are OGC compliant. More and more people are talking about it. They are taking the software from the web and using it. We are supporting the Open Geo foundation. We believe that open source tools should be available. But, we must understand that the utility of data comes only with availability.


Dr R Siva Kumar

CEO NSDI & HeadNRDMS Division
Department of Science & Technology Government of India



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