GIS: The 21st century cartographer

Delhi will employ the technology to manage Commonwealth Games,keep track of athletes

Written by Sutirtha Sanyal | Published:February 8, 2009 3:23 pm

Delhi will employ the technology to manage Commonwealth Games,keep track of athletes
YOU visit a new city and find yourself lost. You switch on the navigation tool on your cellphone to locate where you are on a map. You go out on a long drive and find yourself stuck in a huge traffic jam. The navigation device in the car immediately charts out alternate routes for you.
Most probably you think Global Positioning System (GPS) was behind the applications that you used. Well,the GPS did play its part,but the core technology was GIS or the Geographic Information System.

So,what is GIS? Technically speaking,it is the representation and analysis of features on the earth’s surface in a computerised format,much like what cartographers did hundreds of years ago. In simpler terms,GPS only provides the coordinates,latitudes and longitudes of any given location. GIS juxtaposes this data on a map and makes it useable. Google Earth,or for that matter all computerised maps,like MapmyIndia,are based on GIS,which creates these virtual maps using data from aerial and land surveys merged with satellite imagery.

The technology is widely used in defence and internal security. In fact,future wars will be fought on virtual battlefields where field commanders will try out their strategies and monitor the action live.
The technology will also be crucial in disaster management. While meteorological satellites only provide information about impending disasters,GIS will help researchers understand the extent of damage,showing how natural features have been altered by an earthquake or tsunami.

Closer home,GIS will aid the Delhi Government in managing the Commonwealth Games next year. The state has already started work on creating a Rs 150-crore 3D model of the city,which is expected to be ready this year. It has also set up the Delhi Geospatial Ltd,which will,for the first time in India,use LIDAR — a new technology that uses lasers for 3D mapping — to map buildings and other features in the Capital.

The idea behind the model is to create a single data source with multiple applications. Besides,different sets of data can be attached to these maps to serve various purposes.
For example,data relating to the age group of the electorate,the health conditions of the people across the city,the economic strata of the society,the literacy levels in different localities,could be attached to the 3D model by agencies like the Election Commission,the health,water and power departments.

But the major test for the technology will be the Commonwealth Games. In the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack,security is a major concern during the Games,the biggest sporting event to be hosted by India. But using GIS,the organisers will keep a tab on the proceedings from start to finish.

The movement of athletes from the airport to the hotel or to the Games venues,or even during marathons will be monitored effortlessly. A small GPRS chip attached to their ID cards will keep the authorities informed about their whereabouts at all times,thereby ensuring their safety. Besides,their access to unauthorised zones can also be monitored and prevented.
GIS will also bring more efficiency to governance in Delhi,aiding the authorities with everything from managing bus routes to directing Police Control Room (PCR) vehicles to trouble spots.

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