His Coordinates

“Application development under NGIS will be greatly facilitated by NDR”

Jan 2017 | No Comment

Dr P S Acharya

Scientist ‘G’ & CEO (NSDI), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India

Not hearing much about NSDI? Is it a forgotten story?

No, not at all. It has been very much a live entity devoted to facilitating provision of discovery and access to spatial data sets captured by different partnering agencies of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Reengineering the existing data, making those discoverable through a common gateway like NSDI Portal (https:// nsdiindia.gov.in) or the National Data Portal (https://data.gov.in); and providing access to data sets as webbased services for visualisation and application development have been the priorities so far. Over the recent past, NSDI has further consolidated itself towards provision of map and feature data services, setting up of a National Data Registry (NDR), maintaining National Foundation Spatial Data sets (NFSD), and coordinating implementation of the National Geographical Information System (NGIS).

Where we stand on NSDI as of today?

NSDI has been instrumental in getting published OGC-compliant Web Map Services (WMS) for access with countrywide data/ image coverage available from Survey of India (SOI), National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Forest Survey of India (FSI), Central Water Commission (CWC (WRIS)), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB (WRIS)) from their respective Data Nodes. OGC-compliant Web Feature Services (WFS) to facilitate download of 1:50K (or higher) processable topographic data after cleaning and re-engineering for Delhi and Haryana States have been completed. A total of 90% topographic data have been cleaned for publication of WFS for a major component of the National Foundation Spatial Data (NFSD). Data Node Specifications and Application Schemas for WFS/ GML in respect of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO), and Geological Survey of India (GSI) have been finalised to support the development of the National Data Registry in the near future. National Standard for Geospatial Metadata has been published through the Bureau of National Standards (BIS). ISO standards on WMS, WFS, Conceptual Schema Language (CSL), Rules for Application Schema, and GML have been co-branded as National Standards for publication.

What about state SDIs? Karnataka, Delhi, Uttarakhand…?

State SDIs have made substantial progress. Karnataka Geoportal has been maintained as an on-going infrastructure and its utility demonstrated in applications like WateZilla Parishat in each of the State’s 30 districts have been trained on use of the Geoportal in updation and sharing of both geometric and attribute components. Test version of the Uttarakhand Geoportal has been made operational and is currently under User Acceptance Testing. System Integrators have been identified in West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand where the geoportal development work is progressing in full swing. States like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Nagaland, and Mizoram have shown keen interest in setting up State SDIs.

Any successful example of any application of NSDI?

Enrolment of organisations at the national and state levels for operationalisation of SDIs, availability of the NSDI platform for ensuring commitment to a shared vision of standards-based data sharing; and creation of the enabling framework of policies have been the major factors contributing to the success of NSDI. Data sharing has just begun as web-based interoperable services (WMS/ WFS/ GML) from SOI, NRSC, FSI, GSI, CWC, CGWB, and State Governments like Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Kerala. Primary ingredients of SDIs like policies (NDSAP, State Policies), technologies (Serviceoriented architecture), standards (CSL, WMS, WFS, GML, Metadata), human resources (training modules/ kits/ skills in spatial data modelling) etc. have come together to provide the required enabling framework. Development of real-life applications of NSDI for decision support has been now much closer to reality than ever before because of NSDI and State SDIs. But much more are required to be done on various fronts for achievement of automated development of GIS applications. NGIS Mission is expected to be mounted on the top of NSDI for the successful delivery of the applications.

The key challenges before NSDI?

The key challenges have been the lack of trained manpower for building and using web-based data services for application development, lack of data updation mechanism/ out-of-date data; non-availability of legacy data in proper processable format/ structure; delay in adequate adoption of technologies; inadequate policy support to enforce/ regulate data management/ sharing, and longer on-boarding time in deploying portals and data re-engineering etc.

Any update on National GIS (NGIS)?

NGIS proposal has been further revised in the wake of the progress made in Geospatial Technologies in the recent past and various other initiatives launched by the Government and re-submitted for approval.

Will NGIS make NSDI irrelevant?

Focus of NGIS has been on application development for decision support. Development of the GIS applications will rely on and use of standards-based and interoperable data/ processing services made accessible through NSDI and State SDIs. National Data Registry (NDR) will be critical to faster development of GIS applications.

Please explain the importance and significance of National Data Registry (NDR)?

Over the past years, NSDI has compiled, updated and served metadata of different partnering agencies through India Geoportal. Experiences suggest that there has been sub-optimal utilisation of the NSDI metadata in search, discovery and application development. Approach to metadata management needs to be upgraded and re-oriented with the deployment of a standards-based NDR. With NSDI and State SDI agencies increasingly publishing feature data sets as interoperable web-based services (WMS/ WFS) potentially useful in GIS, effective management and use of data services require access to additional metadata information. Such information may include definitions or semantics of underlying data, registration of each data/ service (with uniqueid) for referencing purposes over the web; tracking changes in data storage/ format/ standard specifications etc. so that those could be put to appropriate interpretation and analysis in a GIS. A prototype of the NDR has thus been developed and demonstrated by NSDI with the involvement of IIT Bombay, IIT Kharagpur; IIIT Hyderabad; KSCST and Bengaluru for a select set of use cases. Based on the insights gained, it has been decided to develop an operational scale NDR for storing and sharing up-to-date metadata from the partnering agencies. The NDR will be capable of providing a set of registers containing metadata for the data sets and their services those could be used by humans and machines for developing GIS applications on-line.

What are the key elements of NDR?

Key elements of the NDR are proposed to be (i) a set of registers containing metadata like data definition, data catalogue, application schema, and classification codershed Management and Health. District NRDMS Staff posted with the etc., (ii) registry service for publication of data/ service registration by the data/ service providers with unique-ids; (iii) catalogue service on web (CS-W) for sharing of metadata, and (iv) an automated facility for harvesting metadata from the Data Nodes of the NSDI partnering agencies/ State SDIs by the NDR for updating the metadata on the NDR.

How NDR is going to help NSDI/ NGIS?

NDR will help the end user/ utilities in searching and discovering right kind of spatial data sets for application development. It will also support keeping track of changes made to a data set through its definition, application schema, classification code and the version number of the underlying standard, if any, to facilitate correct interpretation and processing of the results, and avoid duplication in data capture. Application development under NGIS will be greatly facilitated by NDR.

How do you see the role of Survey of India?

SoI as the premier National Mapping Agency for topographic data will continue to remain a major partner of NSDI and contribute to the acquisition, maintenance, and sustained provision of authoritative, seamless, reliable, and consistent National Foundation Spatial Data (e.g. positioning network, DEM, administrative boundaries, transportation network etc.). Improvement of resolution and accuracy in the NFSD aligned to the end user needs of the stakeholders is expected to be a major item in the role of SoI in the coming years.

How you position NSDI vis-a-vis mega projects of Government of India like Digital India and Smart Cities?

Mega projects like Digital India and Smart Cities could be viewed in the context of NSDI as having a large number of complex GIS applications or Decision Support Systems of different kinds requiring provision of and access to right resolution geospatial data. In order to remain effective in meeting this requirement, NSDI will require formulation of the right kind of policies, organisational structure for sustenance of the underlying infrastructure, compliance framework, standards and interoperability specifications, training and capacity building.

How to encourage the incorporation of spatial components in such initiatives of the Government of India?

Automation in application development, improved accessibility to spatial data of right resolution; and user-friendliness of tools and applications are key to such encouragement. These are getting to be addressed by NSDI-NRDMS and NGIS Initiatives in the coming phase.

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