India’s NSDI – Back into the future

Jul 2006 | Comments Off on India’s NSDI – Back into the future

June 13, 2006.

A resolution by the Government of India on NSDI.

A significant step.

Coordinates initiates a discussion. On what was envisioned, and what has been achieved. On challenges ahead.

A time to celebrate. To get nostalgic.

To revisit moments of euphoria and despair.

To remember heroes.

To share their views, experiences and expectations.

While Mukund Rao narrates the story of NSDI in India, we pay our tributes.

A humble tribute.

To those who contributed in this mission.

Bal Krishna Editor


The Government of India has formally approved the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) programme – I told myself AT LONG LAST, IT IS DONE!!! I also heaved a sigh of relief – a sigh which has been weighing on my mind for the past 5 years (from February, 2001 onwards). In that sense of relief – that marked a feeling of achievement and success for the benefit of the country, I closed my eyes and …

The initial phase

My thoughts went back to December 5, 2000 – when the first meeting of the then NGDI Task Force was held in Department of Science and Technology (DST) to consider the National geographic Data Infrastructure (NGDI) programme. Fortunately, a great personality of Indian Space – Dr K Kasturirangan – whom I have the highest regard and respect for, had nominated me to that committee and I met yet another great person – Dr V S Ramamurthy, then Secretary, DST. These two were the torchbearers of India’s NSDI who laid a foundation for a movement that was visionary and way ahead of times. At that first meeting, I vividly recall my first interaction with an ebullient and dynamic personality – Mr Amitabha Pande, then Joint Secretary, DST who is yet another driving force for NSDI. In that committee, I also developed close association with many friends from Survey of India (SoI), Geological Survey of India (GSI), National Informatics Centre (NIC), industry and many other agencies and committed team was formed. Each member was charged and motivated and wanted a good vision for NSDI – un-shackling the Indian spatial data community to contribute to a successful nation-building enterprise.

Soon within two months we had a blue-print for NSDI – NSDI Strategy and Action Plan document. I worked with Mr Pande assiduously to see that ISRO produced a beautiful document for the country. I always believed that NSDI was a programme that had to be owned by all and thus strived always to obtain technical and programmatic consensus for NSDI from all stake-holders. It was not an easy task (in 2001) when the concept of “sharing and owning” had different connotations. I recall the innumerous debates we had – is it NGDI or NSDI; what is the concept of SDI; is NSDI a monolith or a distributed architecture; technologies required for NSDI; organisational structures required for NSDI; sensitizing to the multi-farious drivers of different agencies – binding them to a common goal and many other aspects. But the tenacity of the Committee, and a good leadership role by Dr Prithvish Nag brought all issues to a common understanding. And soon the blue NSDI document was ready … and that was January, 2001.

Looking back, my grand time came when I, thanks to the magnanimous and motivating vision of Dr Kasturirangan, Dr Ramamurthy and Mr Pande, was called upon to present the NSDI Strategy and Action Plan to the Indian Community at the 1st NGDI Conference on February 5, 2001. The Strategy was adopted and February, 2001 saw the dawn of a new dream for all of us – the dream of a NSDI.


Better late than never

july06-photo-6Dr K Kasturirangan
Member of Parliament, Rajyasabha,
Former Chairman ISRO

I must say better late than never. I am happy that we have a system in place to make spatial data available to the users for various specific and multiple applications. Now not only methodologies have to be evolved but
institutional framework should further be strengthened. It is an evolutionary phase. The proposed set up is a good beginning. We have to try out various options as there is currently no standard practice available. The main objective is that it has to succeed in ensuring easy accessibility and availability of multiple layers of spatial data in a standard format.

Having Minister of Science and Technology chairing the NSDC would be advantageous as it would ensure a smooth interfacing with policy issues. I am sure that all the stakeholders will join the initiative. I feel that they are very enthusiastic. There has been several round of consultation to ensure their participation. Participation in NSDI should not be interpreted as parting with data, but as accessing multiple layers of information.


The Ooty high and a dampener

We soon moved on to Ooty for the 2nd NSDI Conference – we in the NSDI (finally NSDI was chosen) Committee felt that the NSDI movement required constant high-profile visibility and focus. Ooty Conference, in July, 2002, was a watershed of a sort for NSDI. Expectations were high and the “iron was hot” (as they say). Six key Secretaries of Government of India (GOI) and about 180 Indian NSDI stakeholders and a fantastic action plan brought a forward-looking Ooty communiqué – which brought the NSDI dream a bit closer to reality. I continued my saga in the Committee of envisioning great things for NSDI and led the NSDI Metadata Standard effort and after excellent interactions with many colleagues – we brought out the Metadata Standard document in a successful manner. At the same time other groups addressed the NSDI Exchange Standard and the NSDI Applications protocol and the NSDI Network Framework – all of which brought out the intense and high-level of technical knowledge and professionalism of the Indian spatial technology experts.

I must mention an important incident that happened at Ooty. I was involved, with the best of ISRO colleagues and colleagues from SOI and GSI (of course, supported by industry), in developing a NSDI Portal that was to be unveiled in Ooty. Our thinking was that once the NSDI Portal was
shown and then unveiled – it would be proof of what NSDI can bring benefit to different stake-holders and we felt that we would have crossed a major milestone then. It was all done and the NSDI Portal was ready for unveiling on July 29, 2002 at Ooty. But, at the nick of time, came a dampener – a query from the Defence to get the clearance for the Portal and its data content of maps. Just one night before the unveiling in Ooty, in a serene Cottage room, it was agreed that the unveiling would be deferred
and that we should work for a formal government clearance for NSDI. So a Powerpoint presentation was made up to simulate the unveiling (but for a few of us the world did not know about this). Even then, Ooty Conference was a great success – the right chords had been stuck and it was decided to get Government Clearance for NSDI.

The development of the NSDI Portal was enhanced and it was to be shown in an important Secretary-level meeting. 18 July, 2003 – I still remember that date. I was closely involved and steered an extremely good and on- line presentation and demonstration of NSDI to a group of Secretaries (we
actually set up a Metadata Server that was accessed on network and data was transferred to the meeting – actually doing a full-scale NSDI transaction). The demo and presentation was a grand success and it was agreed that the country must have a NSDI. Once again our dreams were fired-on – we thought that this time we have it and soon we shall show the world India’s NSDI.


There is no shortcut

july06-photo-7Prof V S Ramamurthy
Former Secretary, Department of Science
and Technology, Government of India

The resolution on NSDI is a first step to make quality GIS database available to the entire country in a structured manner. The cabinet level decision provides an official stamp of approval. The National Spatial Data Committee is to be chaired by the Minister of Science and Technology. This gives not only a political signal but also ensures that the message comes from the top. The major data producing agencies in the government will accept it as a norm. While the realization of NSDI took more time than anticipated, that never frustrated me. In ambitious programmes, it takes time to reach consensus. There is no shortcut to success. The committees that have been constituted have to evolve standards in alignment with international practices. They should also endevour to make the NSDI portal functional.


A dream and a passion

july06-photo-8Amitabha Pande
Principal Resident Commissioner, Government of
Punjab. Former Joint Secretary, Department
of Science and Technology When we thought of NSDI five years before, it was a dream, a passion, a purpose, a commitment and a movement. The whole purpose was to enable easy access to spatial data. There were four critical components of the initiative – standards, centralized access, open sharing of the data and building of partnerships for value addition. It was thought to involve players at every level like states, villages, communities that will eventually lead to the creation of not only NSDI but also SDIs at state, districts and village levels too. This larger vision does not appear to have been fully encapsulated in the recent government resolution. A major drawback is that the National Map Policy still does not allow open access to the ordinary citizens to maps. A willingness to bring map information in the open public domain has to precede the creation of a NSDI.

This willingness is still largely absent within the ambit of the National Map Policy. The present resolution of the government was originally intended to create an overarching institutional framework and an organization which would have sufficient clout to administer and implement policy, and to design policy which would make spatial data infrastructure a powerful tool of social transformation and improved governance.

This needs something far beyond the creation of government committees with little or no administrative and financial powers to enforce its policies.
In addition, it needs professional leadership through a full time CEO who is the convener/ coordinator of both the committees. Such a CEO would also require a core team of committed professionals to assist him.

Without a CEO and a core team, the organizational framework can easily slide into performing bureaucratic rites and rituals. I do not see any sign of how this is proposed and implemented.


The trudge

Then started the trudge ahead – and it has been a long wait of 4 years. What happened between August 2003 and June, 2006 is now history – which some of us know.

Incidentally the proto-type NSDI Portal was later unveiled in Agra in November, 2003 and whatever was developed as the proto-type NSDI Portal was then released as part of NNRMS Portal by the Hon’ble President of India in July, 2004. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO provided the visionary lead for this initiative; Dr Jayaraman was supportive and my colleagues – Dr Rajeev Jaiswal and Ms Padmavathy and a few other colleagues from ISRO played a vanguard role.

Then came Lucknow in November, 2004 and Hyderabad in December, 2005. While NSDI Conferences became a ritual, progress was slow. Things changed and a feeling of despondency crept in. But many of us had still the fire and passion for NSDI and relentlessly pursued the goal of holding on for NSDI and making it a reality. Here I must mention Dr Sivakumar; Maj Gen Gopal Rao and many of my colleagues in ISRO and SOI, NIC, GSI, NBSSLUP, FSI etc who were committed and never let the “string-loosen”.


Building consensus

july06-photo-9Maj Gen M Gopal Rao
Surveyor General of India

The NSDI movement has been driven by a few individuals of a few organizations. Although it started with a lot of enthusiasm, this slowly waned away. The initial larger participation was slowly taken over by a sense of indifference.

We should understand that processes that need consensus are generally time consuming. The positive thing was that despite all the frustration that was creeping in, the taskforce stayed together. Some of the working groups persevered and due to them, continuity was maintained. Now the government has given an authority and the entire movement is now set to move with greater momentum. We can expect that all the organizations who have participated in this endeavor with great enthusiasm will rejoin with same vigor.

Significant groundwork has already been done. Standards are in place. Interoperability of large datasets is to be demonstrated in September this
year. The misapprehensions of many government agencies have already been resolved. The very fact that many organizations have spoken to each other and agreed to pool their datasets itself is an achievement. The academia is a part of this effort. However, the industry so far has been passive in its response. I look forward for their active participation.

The other area of concern is to involve state governments. We need to think how to get them on board through state level SDI. Survey of India state level Geo-spatial Data Centre (GDC) should act as facilitator for this. Although major data producing agencies are at central level but at micro level most of the datasets are with the state governments. We expect all the stakeholders to put in place their portal gateway for data sharing. Survey of India will soon be setting up a portal to service NSDI. We also need to understand the process of data sharing. It should serve the need user needs with least hassles. The SOI is already in compliance with OGC standards.

The challenge as Member Secretary is the implementation of an action plan within a given timeframe. And also to get all the government partners work at the same pace. Most importantly, it has to be done through consensus. Some of the working groups who could not make progress at the desired pace will be restrengthened.


Despite all, we succeeded

july06-photo-10Dr R Sivakumar
Head, NRDMS and NSDI Division,
Dept of Science and Technology

I have a great sense of achievement. We are very happy as it came the way we wanted it. Although, initially we wanted a legislation but to start with a government resolution is no less. Ultimately we may have to go in for a legislation. We were successful in keeping the interest for NSDI alive despite being ridiculed by many including media at various forums. The consensus was evolved after a series of meetings. We managed to generate interest that helped various stakeholders to participate and contribute. Keeping people together, itself was a challenge. We have great expectations from industry and ready to collaborate. We have done enough ground work for NSDI to take off. The NSDC will soon hold its first meeting to discuss various issues and to prepare a road map. Personally, for me it was a great learning experience to sharpen my managerial and technical skills. I also take this opportunity to thank ITC, OGC, NRCan, Ordnance Survey for helping us to achieve this.


Shaken concepts

But looking back, one thing I can say that somewhere down the line – the basic concept of NSDI – “collective ownership and a good for all” was shaken. I always believed that NSDI was not of one agency – it had to be COLLECTIVE; NSDI was not just for government – it had all stakeholders and citizens were the greatest beneficiaries; NSDI was not a turf-war – it was intelligent networking and collective action for the good of the country; NSDI was not a “take all” – but give some and take some for success; NSDI was a modern movement – it was not just a programme or a project; NSDI was not crafted for a few individuals – but was driven by a few individuals for success and benefit in the country. Somewhere, I personally feel, these issues lost focus – maybe because of delays and changing scenarios – change of people, change of strategies, change of environment and change of technologies. I personally believe that we would have been far ahead of Google-Earth – at least for India.

Parallel developments

I must mention here a very good development that happened at that time and was concertedly driven by the NSDI Committee. It was the New Map Policy. There was intense discussions and debates and drafts on the Map Policy issue – there was overall consensus that a more pragmatic policy was required but the definition of such a policy addressing all concerns took a lot of time. In this activity again, many of our colleagues in Defense, Home and agencies like DST/SOI, ISRO, NIC etc have played a leading role – pragmatism was everywhere on this issue but “nailing” a policy was a tough task. At last hat too was achieved last year when a New
Map Policy has been announced.

In the meantime there were many other developments that spurred the spatial data and applications – India had excellent images from Resourcesat and then Cartosat; India also hosted the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association Conference in Bangalore in February, 2004 (I had the privilege of serving as the President of GSDI in 2004 and 2005; that gave me great insights to the SDI movement all over the world); agencies embarked on creating a wealth of GIS databases and activities etc – all these helped create the right environment in the country.

So things were moving – slowly and steadily but certainly moving.

Let me get back to the future…

Now my dreams are back and once again I dream … soon we shall have India NSDI Portal and we shall have the best of SDI programmes in the world. I believe in this and feel it can easily happen. What are the stakes for the future?



No. SMP/25/003/05 Government of India, Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology. New Delhi, the 13th June, 2006. Excerpts:

The Government of India propose to establish a national infrastructure known as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI”) for the purposes of acquiring, processing, storing, distribution and improving utilistation of spatial data which would be a gateway of spatial data being generated by various agencies of the Government of India. The Government of India has accordingly decided to establish National Spatial Data Committee (NSDC) with the composition, functions and powers as specified in this resolution:-


The NSDC shall consist of the permanent Members (ex-officiocapacity) as mentioned in table 1.

On and from such date and term as may be decided by the NSDC, the NSDC can appoint the following additional Members:

(a) maximum of 5 (five) Secretary rank officials of the Government of India or State Government department whose activities are related to the NSDI.

(b) maximum of 5 (five) Experts having experience and qualifications in the fields related to NSDI- Geographical Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing, Digital Mapping, Photogrammetry, Spatial and Nonspatial
databases, information Technology, Networking, Software, Business Management, Law and other related fields.

(c) maximum of 5 (five) representatives from industry, academia and NGOs.

Functions and Powers

The NSDC shall be the apex national authority for formulating and implementing appropriate policies, strategies and programmes for the establishment, operation,management of the NSDI and utilistation and any other activities related to spatial data in the country. As part of this, the NSDC will:

• determine the requirement of spatial data in the country and require the creation or collection of spatial data to fill such requirement;

• formulate and position policies on all aspects related to the NSDI including its establishment, access, pricing etc.;

• decide and arbiter on issues relating to spatial data generation and its availability;

• promote and enable investment in the spatial business sector and to create an environment that encourages competitive excellence;

• promote the development of human resources in the spatial data sector by encouraging existing training institutes, universities, institutions offering specialized courses, etc to undertake human resources development activities for NSDI;

• promote advanced research related to the NSDI activities and enable an ambience of R&D for NSDI in the country;

• require any member, persons, entities or organizations to provide access to any data at such costs as may be reasonable;

• aid and advise the Central Government on any matter related to or connected with the NSDI;

• enter into appropriate arrangement with any third party to undertake any specific activity conneted with or related to any of the activities of the NSDI, including marketing, data generation, data assimilation, access, consulting, commercial exploitation of any data, etc.;

• do all such acts and deeds that may be necessary, beneficial or otherwise desirable to achieve the objectives of the NSDI.

Table 1

• Minister of Science & Technology President
• Secretary, Dept of Science and Technology Member
• Secretary, Dept of Space Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Defence Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources Member
• Secretary, Dept of Land Resources Member
• Member Secretary, Planning Commission Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development Member
• Secretary, Dept of Ocean Development Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Mines Member
• Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology Member
• Registrar-General, Census of India Member
• Surveyor General, Survey of India/Director,   NRSA Member Secretary

Executive Committee

The NSDI Executive Committee shall have the members (ex-officio capacity) as mentioned in table 2. In addition, the NSDC may appoint for a specified term, on recommendation of the Chairperson of NSDI Executive Committee, Eight (8) Experts having experience and qualifications in the fields related to NSDI- Geographical Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing, Digital Mapping, Photogrammetry, spatial and Non-spatial Database, Information Technology, Networking, Software, Business Management, Law and other related fields.

Functions and powers of the Executive Committee:

NSDI Executive Committee shall undertake any and all implementing and executive functions for and on behalf of the NSDC including functions as may be prescribed by regulations framed by the NSDC in this connection or otherwise as directed or delegated upon the NSDI Executive Committee
by the NSDC. Such functions and powers would include:

• To define and ensure implementation of national standards for NSDI activities and to enable a smooth establishment and access to NSDI;

• To constitute technical, financial or other sub-committees to establish the NSDI and any

• other objectives and functions under the Act;

• To define and formulate rules and procedures for enabling NSDI databases, servers, networks and access rules and filters;

• To aid and advise the NSDC on any matter related to or connected with its functions and the NSDI;

• To advise the NSDC on expanding the scope of NSDI by including newer spatial and non-spatial data and enabling a larger participation in NSDI;

• To undertake activities to attract new entrants, private sector participation and stimulate innovation related to NSDI;

• To encourage and set into operations value-added-services relating to the usage of NSDI for supporting developmental and economic activities;

• To do all such acts and deeds that may be necessary, beneficial or otherwise desirable to achieve the objectives of the NSDI.


Table 2

• Surveyor General of India Chairman
• Director, NRSA Co-Chairman
• Jnt. Secretary, Dept of Science & Technology Member
• Jnt. Secretary, Dept of Space Member
• Director General, Geological Survey of India Member
• Director, National Bureau of Soil Survey &    Landuse Planning Member
• Director, Forest Survey of India Member
• Chairman, Central Ground Water Board Member
• Chairman, Central Water Commission Member
• Director General, India Meteorology Department Member
• Director General, National Informatics Centre Member
• Representative of Registrar General, Census of   India Member
• Director, NATMO Member
• Chief Executive Officer, NSDI Member Secretary

A result of many parallel initiatives

july06-photo-11Dr P Nag
Director, NATMO,
Government of India

The clearance of NSDI by the Government of India is definitely an achievement. However, this development should not be seen in isolation. There have been several activities and processes going on in parallel that contributed considerably to progress in right direction. The efforts regarding modernization of spatial data, map digitization, reforms at Survey of India, National Map Policy and creation of the NSDI should be looked in a holistic way.

When we initiated this process five years before, there were doubts in many data producing agencies about the intention itself. Many took it as an effort to exercise control on them. In due course of time, the initial hesitation at least in government departments is over and now we can look forward to a major role to be played by all the stakeholders. However, we still need to make efforts to convince the non-government data producing groups like industry and NGOs to actively participate in this initiative.

Industry is having a greater role in producing spatial data for the country. Efforts should be made to evolve model for public-private partnerships. Such partnerships should be beneficial to government and industry both.

Needless to say that the digital data henceforth produced by the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) will meet the NSDI data specification.


Definitely a positive step

july06-photo-12Dr Vandana Sharma
Senior Technical Director, National
Informatics Centre

National Informatics Centre (NIC) and NSDI have been complementary and supplementary in the field of GIS although both started on a different note. NIC focused on creation of datasets, value addition to database with GIS component and creating infrastructure for dissemination of these databases. The NSDI mainly deliberated on metadata, standards, data exchange formats, OSM etc from the very beginning.

We at NIC are convinced about the potential and applicability of spatial data for developmental purposes, hence we took GIS as a millennium planning tool that will change the decision making process forever. Traditionally at NIC, we already have a large number of relational datasets of infrastructure and natural resources with details up to village level. These datasets along with GIS technology can yield immediate results for developmental planning and e-governance even at village level.

Today, data is not a prime issue. However, it is important to have an effective delivery system of these data. We also need to develop innovative, imaginative and customized data products keeping users in our mind.

The clearance of NSDI is definitely a positive step. However, now when NSDI is a reality our focus should be to ensure that it delivers too


Need a business model

july06-photo-13K M Jagadeesh
Reliance Digital World Limited

Although the progress initially was slow but it was necessary to be optimistic. In addition, we had a conviction that such a Spatial Data Infrastructure will be vital for extensive use of GIS for the benefit of people.

The role of private sector is to develop a viable business model to reach masses. This has to be supported by resolutions of Government to take up such ventures. Improvements in communication infrastructure and economic growth scenario of the country are favourable for deployment of applications to reach masses.

Planning, engineering, operations & maintenance of large infrastructure projects to harness power of GIS for rapid and effective implementation and productivity enhancement

aimed at business benefits.

A few points that need attention are

1. NSDI should develop a business model along with private sector and not in isolation. The business model to be reviewed annually to make it more friendly to private sector.

2. Private sector should also be involved in development of NSDI and operational utilisation of NSDI.

3. Government organisations should focus on simpifying regulatory / policy issues. (viz., TRAI for Telecom).

4. NSDI to work with NASSCOM to facilitate in GIS integration with mainstream IT.


Private sector has an active role

july06-photo-14Rajesh C Mathur
ESRI india

I must compliment Surveyor General of India and other officers of Government of India who worked relentlessly with missionary zeal in spite of several challenges. Private sector also played a very active and constructive role in conceptualizing NSDI and building a road map. I appreciate the gesture of the Government in involving private sector in the NSDI Task Force and various sub committees – I had the opportunity to chair one of them.

Going forward, the NSDI Committee should define a clear road map for the next 3-5 years with defined milestones, individual responsibilities and goals. Private sector should continue to play an active role and must be involved in building the implementation plan. Some of the specific areas where private sector can contribute to NSDI are:

• Creation of value added products
• Usage of spatial data in implementation of projects for end users
• Creation for data portals and platforms for service delivery
• Providing Web based geospatial services to end users
• Distribution of spatial data in the domestic market
• Development of applications to enable deployment of GIS in various verticals
• Development of product plans based on market requirements – present and future.
• Building marketing and promotional strategy for NSDI products and services
• Pricing and other commercial terms

In addition, NSDI can also contribute in creating standards, formats for data exchange etc. NSDI can also provide the framework for dissemination of the data created by the private sector.

The NSDI journey has just begun for our country. As we progress, we will have to overcome several challenges. Some of these would be:

• Building a road map for the next 5 years for NSDI
• Development of product and services plans
• Reaching a consensus among all participants on the short and medium term goals.
• Pricing and other commercial terms for data and services
• Creating a business model for public – private partnership
• Providing budgetary support to participating agencies for data creation


Interoperability is crucial

july06-photo-15Dr R P Singh
Deputy Registrar General (Map),
Office of Registrar General India

Census department is very much prepared to be a part of NSDI. Besides attribute data, census have a large number of maps up to village level. There are different layers of these data and some of them are already available on Internet. However, one of our concerns have been interoperability. The Survey of India toposheets and census maps have different characteristics as our objective has been to display attribute data. The other issue is of standardization. Everything needs to be standardized like legends, names, etc. When we discuss such issues we should also consider the needs of departments other than Survey of India.

Many departments need map for village level planning and where attribute data play a very important role. I think we need more intensive deliberations to address the concerns of data producing agencies other than Survey of India.

Nevertheless, the clearance of NSDI is a major step forward as in one go it will address many issues pertaining to data accessibility and duplicacy.


We have huge datasets that can be linked to NSDI

july06-photo-16Dr S N Das
Chief Soil Survey Officer, All India Soil and Landuse
Survey, Ministry of Agriculture

All India Soil & Land Use Survey (AISLUS), has a repository of spatial data for watershed prioritasation for macro-level planning on 1:50,000 scale of 200 m ha. In addition, there is detailed database on soil and land
characteristics on 1:4000/8000/ 15000 scale for 13.5 m ha and district wise distribution of degraded lands on 1:50,000 scale of 65 districts.

AISLUS has completed 20 consultancy projects on application of RS and GIS for development of digital soil data and impact evaluation of watershed development and watershed prioritization.

We would have appreciated had Ministry of Agriculture as a member to NSDC and also AISLUS as a part of this NSDI initiative.



According to me there are six important issues that need to be addressed for the success of NSDI today. The first, is the availability and easy accessibility to spatial data – unhindered but regulated, maybe, and requiring sound and adaptive policies for spatial data sharing. We need the foundation of good, reliable and basic GIS databases (Make data available and applications, demand, market will follow through). This leads to the second, good “GIS Process Standards” – a standardisation of the entire process of “spatial technology” – images, mapping, GIS database creation, Spatial outputs, Spatial data Quality Assessment and Spatial Services (If all GIS data available is as per common and agreed standards, applications, demand and market development will be easier). The third is technical interoperability – integration using the Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) and based on Web standards (Spatial data and Application Services will be the order of the day for GIS in the future). The fourth requirement would be spatial modelling and applications which brings new perspectives and visualization of spatial information and new insights to societal and economic processes of society – natural resources management, land planning, engineering and infrastructure, disaster management, education, health services and business (GIS Services will broaden and touch almost all aspects of society and citizens). The fifth important parameter is partnerships and enterprise for GIS – replete with the infrastructure, mission critical capabilities, and robust architectures associated with other enterprises. The “forced” boundary between Spatial Technology and conventional Information Technology will disappear – and horizontals of a new kind would emerge (the more inclusive GIS will be with other technologies/enterprises the more success for GIS). This leads to the last of the important issue – developing the GIS user communities by educating and orienting levels of society to become Spatial-savvy and benefit from the spatial technologies (if every citizen learns and benefits from GIS, it is he who will ultimately drive GIS technology and its future growth).

The databases

Core to all this and the most critical element for the success of NSDI – which I have realized and reiterate is databases – both spatial and otherwise are KEY “engines” for NSDI to be developing and protecting our society and our people and generating commerce. A society that has a good, reliable and detailed database of its resources, assets, people and infrastructure is able to better manage, develop and protect itself and also generate successful business. We need a national effort for the database that provides a first-level snapshot of the world – and this may be “stitched” from many national perspectives; a national database that provides indepth assessment of national disparities and opportunities and through to a city-level or property-level database of land/property assets. Mainly a GIS DATBASE ENTERPRISE – a national GIS System of Systems is what will drive NSDI. My urge would be – India, please get the collective act together and put in all resources and efforts to develop and make available the best and systematic GIS databases – it will be an investment for the present and future generations!!!

Public-private partnership

Another major amalgam for NSDI is Public-Private partnerships – it would be just impossible for a single entity (even government) to fully establish the NSDI on its own. Partnerships will have to be the core mechanism to make NSDI successful. There could be self-defined stake-boundaries – agencies providing data assets; agencies developing applications; agencies providing services; agencies maintaining the systems and so on – but all of them knit on a valuebased “royalty” model that will make a successful enterprise for each. In this individual successful enterprise, NSDI will emerge as the most succsessful enterprise of enterprise.

The dream

Now I dream – that to develop GIS applications and value-add, provide development alternatives, generate GIS business, protect and empower our society and people we would be able to search, locate and seek reliable and accurate map and image data and spatial information from a “merabharat search” and find varying details of Indian map and image data on NSDI servers and (at a “proverbial click”) download them to desktops by making an e-payment. Mera Bharat is certainly Mahaan and I am sure that Mera Bharat’s NSDI will also be Mahaan – SOON!!!

That is what I dreamt in February, 2001… Is somebody pinching me to wake up?


Mukund Rao

Chief Executive Officer Navayuga Spatial
Technologies Pvt Ltd Bangalore
My coordinates
Mark your calendar
May 09 TO DECEMBER 2009

«Previous 1 2 3View All| Next»

Pages: 1 2 3

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)