Encouragement to Geospatial Data, Solutions and Products by the Government of India

Encouragement to Geospatial Data, Solutions and Products by the Government of India

In line with its transformative vision of a self-reliant and digitally-empowered India, the Central Government has given a much-needed push to the democratization, advancement and integration of Geospatial technologies, data and services in the country. This reinforced Geospatial ecosystem, to be anchored by the promising private sector, is being envisioned as a critical component of the Five Trillion Dollar Economy that India is on its way to achieve.

On these lines, the launch of the Gati Shakti plan, a 100-lakh crore national infrastructural master plan providing a linked platform to integrate datasets with a Geospatial component, is a historic landmark. The platform, however, is just one development out of the several tools, solutions and resources that the Government is building using Geospatial technologies.

Breaking the Silos of Departmentalism: Gati Shakti

The National Master Plan’s GIS platform is set to enable improved coordination and decision-making, bringing synergy to create a world-class, seamless infrastructure network in the country. Marking a paradigm shift in Indian infrastructural development, the platform seeks to enhance multi-modal linkages and increase competitiveness. All existing and proposed economic zones have been mapped along with multimodal connectivity infrastructure in the single platform, while individual projects of different Ministries would be sanctioned, documented and mapped in the future within the parameters of the overall Gati Shakti plan.

A GIS-based Enterprise Resource Planning system with 200+ layers for evidence-based decision making and the use of satellite imagery for monitoring physical assets are just two of the tools for coordinated planning of infrastructure using Gati Shakti.  The avenue of complete digitisation and impactful connectivity of infrastructural project planning, operations and monitoring would mean that different departments can collaborate with one another over projects, saving considerable time and resources otherwise wasted on doubling of efforts. Availability of comprehensive, highly accurate and constantly updated representation of Geospatial data will significantly boost innovation in different sectors as well.

Integrated Planning of the Energy Sector: Geospatial Energy Map

The energy data in India is highly fragmented and scattered across various organizations or even departments of the Government, based on their respective domains or expertise. While there are several maps and detailed data silos available discretely, the lack of a consolidated energy map of the country, besides the highly static nature of existing maps, is a constant roadblock to integration with associated features of topography and other physical assets.

Geospatial Energy Map of India

Figure 1: Geospatial Energy Map of India; Source

The recently launched Geospatial Energy Map of India by the NITI Aayog in collaboration with ISRO attempts to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy along with their transportation and transmission networks. The idea is to develop a comprehensive overview of energy production and distribution in the country using a robust GIS platform. A key application of this GIS-based energy map is efficient Geospatial planning of resources and infrastructure, including upcoming solar parks, coal blocks, crude oil and natural gas pipelines, investment guidance for financial institutions, disaster management of possible energy disruption and emergency response, and safety of energy assets under inclement weather conditions.

The web-based Geospatial Energy Map of India brings together visualization of both spatial and non-spatial data, spanning renewable and non-renewable power plants, oil and gas downstream sectors, renewable energy potential of the country, fossil fuel resources, and other energy assets of importance. Currently deployed on VEDAS Server at SAC, Ahmedabad, and providing visualization of static data of over 25 thematic layers, the Geospatial Energy Map will be available for unrestricted access through a dedicated portal.

Empowering e-Governance through GIS: Bharat Maps

The future lies in embedding the wide-ranging benefits of Geospatial intelligence in governance and service delivery. As a significant step towards this prospect, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has created a robust multi-layer GIS platform named Bharat Maps, depicting its core foundation data as an integrated multi-scale, multi-resolution base map service.

Bharat Maps Online Thematic Portal

Figure 2: Bharat Maps Online Thematic Portal; Source

Bharat Maps draws data from various agencies on its robust and unique infrastructure, including country-wide base maps, satellite imagery and terrain maps. The automated map service dissemination application developed by the NIC, spanning 32 GIS layers, enables data access and integration for various officials with the e-Gov platform. Through this application, map services are being provided to various Ministries and Departments, Vahan & Sarathi projects, Central Government schemes, Health Management Information System (HMIS), and so on.

Three geocoding options have been incorporated on the Bharat Maps GIS platform for simplified and fast location finding. Reverse geocoding can also be availed through a dedicated API, giving details such as place name, district and state if the geographical coordinates of a place are fed into the system. Countrywide high-resolution panchromatic and multi-spectral standard satellite images, produced from the National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, have been processed to develop seamless datasets aligned as image services on the Bharat Maps portal, and consumed in various e-Governance projects.

Nationwide Repository of Water Resources: India-WRIS

With several challenges enshrouding the water resources sector in the country, the unique initiative of the India-WRIS project aims to disseminate water resources management data in the public domain for various stakeholders to benefit from. The comprehensive Water Resources Information System (WRIS) attempts to increase awareness about the present status of water resources and the need for its effective management among various stakeholders.

India-WRIS Platform

Figure 3: India-WRIS Platform; Source

The single-window solution for all water resources data and information is based on a standardized national GIS framework, allowing users to search, access, visualize, understand and analyse comprehensive and contextual data for assessment, monitoring, planning, development and integration of efforts when it comes to water resources management. Launched by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the India-WRIS spans dashboards for rainfall, water levels & discharges of rivers, ground water levels, distribution of water bodies, reservoir storages, evapotranspiration and soil moisture, besides modules on water resources projects, hydro-met data availability and more.

The data for India-WRIS is presently derived from several central and state agencies, including the Central Water Commission (CWC), Central Ground Water Board (CWGB), Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), and states such as Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, to name a few.

Gateway to Indian Earth Observation: Bhuvan Geoportal

Offering comprehensive visualization services and earth observation data to users in the public domain, the Bhuvan Geoportal developed by ISRO has come a long way from simple satellite data display and basic GIS functionality. Today, the portal offers more than 6000 map services under various applications, having grown both horizontally in diverse domains and vertically in terms of data volume and quality.

Bhuvan Geoportal

Figure 4: Bhuvan Open Data Archive; Source

With 1 m resolution satellite data spanning more than 350 cities, Bhuvan is providing an unprecedented administrative and hydrologic base for the country’s infrastructural development and management alike. The content on Bhuvan is available for public consumption, making it easier for students, startups and innovators to develop and deploy the platform’s rich data for myriad applications. From thematic applications in forestry, tourism, municipal GIS and geotagging to decentralised planning through Bhuvan Panchayats and environment management through the ENVIS program, the applications of Bhuvan Geoportal are unimaginably wide and varied.

Ecosystem Approach to Urban Governance: National Urban Digital Mission

Recently launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) seeks to work with and support the country’s Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) by leveraging digital technology. The idea is to create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India, working across the three pillars of “people, process, and platform”. The mission envisions a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery, consolidating various digital initiatives of the Ministry.

A number of these initiatives were launched recently, including the Geospatial Management Information System (GMIS) integrated with the new Smart Cities Mission website. GMIS is a web-based, spatially-enabled management tool that acts as a one-stop access to Geospatial data of urban areas in the country, derived from multiple sources and featuring search/filter options by topic and geographic area. The India Urban Data Exchange open-source platform was also launched, set to facilitate secure, authenticated and managed exchange of data among various platforms, third-party authorised applications and other sources.