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Geospatial technology as a powerful tool in urban planning

The Government of India has also initiated GIS based master plans under AMRUT scheme in 2015 aiming to improve the existing basic infrastructure

Dev Discourse News Desk Ajmer Singh- VisionRI Last Updated at 15 Mar 2018, 20:03 IST India
Geospatial technology as a powerful tool in urban planning

Today Geographical Information System has become a powerful tool to influence and support the decision making of the planners. Everyday millions of decisions are empowered by geospatial technology. Geographic Information System or (GIS) is a computer-based tool that captures, analyses, stores, manipulates and visualizes geographic information, usually in a map or spatial data. Most of the people who are not much aware about GIS capacity think GIS is only limited to preparation of digital maps.

But governments, industry, business entities and professionals are much aware about the potential of GIS and empower the potential of GIS because of the insights of spatial analysis.

It is used to analyse and manipulate the spatial data for specific purpose. GIS is such a technology that has made many jobs easier and faster and made possible to do more things in the same space of time with the click of a button. The use of GIS is manifold as it is not limited to cartographers only. Now it is diversified and extensively used in almost all development fields such as urban planning, water resource management, transportations, utilities, navigation, rural development, oils & gas, hydropower, power sector, etc. GIS has made development planning easier and smart.

Ministry of Urban Development (now Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) has initiated National Urban Information System (NUIS) in 2006 for creation of multi-scale Hierarchical Urban Geospatial Database on using Satellite, Aerial and GPR techniques. The generated thematic geospatial database would enable State Nodal Agency and Urban Local Bodies for the preparation of Master Plan/Development Plan, Transportation Plan, Urban Site suitability analysis and Urban Environmental Planning. National Remote Sensing Centre, Town & Country Planning Organization and Survey of India have been the executive agencies for the project. This is an important step of Indian Government to utilise the potential of geospatial technologies.

The Government of India has also initiated GIS based master plans under AMRUT scheme in 2015 aiming to improve the existing basic infrastructure services like extending clean drinking water supply, improving sewerage networks, developing septage management, laying of storm water drains, improving public transport services and creating green public spaces like parks etc. GIS is also being extensively used in Smart City Mission started by Government of India to make cities smart and more efficient.

But most of urban planning department, development authority and urban local bodies are lagging behind in the in-house capacity of GIS technology. There are many government agencies are involved in GIS technology and remote sensing at central and state levels. But still there is need to enhance the GIS capacity of the line departments of the Government in order to efficient planning of the cities.

Most of function or activities such as municipal taxation, maintenance and repair of utilities, prioritising the repair of the road and utilities, e-governance etc. are empower by geospatial technology. It has now a vital role to analyze the urban growth and its direction of expansion, and to find suitable sites for further urban development.

Land Suitability Analysis: GIS has very important role in land suitability analysis in order to identify the site suitable for urban growth and its further expansion. There are certain factors that have to consider which land has proper accessibility, availability of water supply, terrain of the land – flat or undulating, occupancy of land, land value etc. GIS has made to analysis these factors easier and fast.

Mobility Planning: GIS has been utilized in the preparation of mobility plan, managing transportation and to solve logistical problems. Now routes and channels are being planned with help of GIS database. Navigation is guided by the GPS technology. Topographical data has been utilized into GIS platform for the planning of any new railway or a road route. The best route is identified with the help of GIS dataset based on the criteria like least damage to environment, flattest surface and least damage to habitats. GIS is also powerful tool for maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of roads and rail system.

Disaster Management and Mitigation: The frequency of occurrence natural and man-made disaster is increasing day by day. Therefore, planning for disaster risk reduction and mitigation is very important. GIS system in this direction has proved a very important tool for planning to mitigate the risk and to plan response system equipped with advance technology. Today GIS system has become an integrated, well developed and successful tool in environment protection, disaster management and mitigation.

The areas which are more prone to natural disaster and man-made have been identified with the help of GIS system. It is powerful tool for risk management, analysis and mitigation of severe impact of the disaster. Disaster prevention and response system should be well equipped with GIS system. Incorporation of disaster management plan in the formulation of development plans is very crucial to identify the risk and to mitigate the risk at the initial stage of planning and to prepare for the quick response system.

Landslide Hazard Zonation: Landslide hazard zonation is the process of ranking different parts of an area according to the degrees of actual or potential hazard from landslides in the hilly areas. It is a complex process to identify and evaluate the hazard areas and zonation. But with the help of geospatial database of geology, structure, faults, surface cover, slope, it has become possible to efficiently collect, manipulate and integrate the information which lead to hazard zonation. It has become possible to identify the landslide prone areas, the assessment of risk, to mitigate and reduce the losses of life and property with the help of sound GIS platform.

Land use classifications and planning: Land use means the area in the surface utilized for particular use. The land use can be determined and classified by the use of GIS technology. GIS enables to capture land parcels data and identify its use for particular purpose. The existing land use pattern is prepared in GIS platform and with help of existing land use, further proposals for propose land uses is prepared. GIS enables the mapping of each & every parcel with its dimensions with accuracy which can be used for property taxation by municipality. Therefore, it is an important tool to determine the land use of the surface and planning for proposed land use for master plans/development plans.

Surveying: Surveying has vital role in the GIS platform for urban planning. It is the instrument to locate the objects on the earth's surfaces. An increasing number of national and governments and regional organizations are using GPS, DGPS and total stations instrument for land survey and others allied activities. TS are used for topographic surveys which has a centimeter level accuracy. The data collected by these instruments are transferred in the GIS system for further process and to convert into design and digital maps as per requirements.

GIS web application and Apps: GIS web application and apps have vital roles to play in urban planning and implementation of development initiatives. GIS based web application enables to establish Urban Information System for planning, implementation and e-Governance solutions for urban development initiatives.

For example, Rajasthan Government has established Urban Information System in 2007-2008 in 39 cities and towns for planning, implementation and e-Governance solutions for urban development initiatives in the state. Apps are in trends for repair and maintenance of the roads. Such type of applications and apps are playing key role in implementation and e-governance solution for development initiatives of governments.

To conclude, now GIS is not limited to cartography only, now it is a powerful tool to implement development initiatives of the Governments, development plan formulation, maintenance, project monitoring & evaluation etc.

The geospatial technology is worldwide adopted to implement development projects and urban planning. It has made the urban planning practice easier and faster. There is still a need to enhance the GIS in-house capacity of urban planning departments, development bodies and urban local bodies to utilize the state of art technology in planning process in an efficient manner and to promote the technology. It is well known fact that there is currently no permanent position available in the Government departments for GIS professional in India.

Therefore, it is a need to create permanent position for GIS professionals in urban planning departments, development authority and urban local bodies of the State Governments and at central Government level as well.

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