Mapping India’s knowledge network with GIS16/09/2013
India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and with globally recognised IT and software development sectors the country provides significant contributions to some of the world’s most important technological advancements.
However, India's development is challenged by disparity, demography and a lack of infrastructure. To overcome these hurdles, leaders have designed a plan for growth – more hospitals, schools, roads, and better quality goods and services – and a strategy for equity.
Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared the period of 2010 to 2020 the ‘decade of innovation’. Off the back of that declaration, in March 2010, India began rolling out its National Knowledge Network (NKN)
The NKN is a ten-year project that will ultimately connect all universities, libraries and research and development institutions via a high-speed data communication network – dramatically improving collaboration and the sharing of resources.
As part of the NKN, a nationwide Geographic Information System (GIS) platform will be built – bringing together geographical data from a variety of sources.
For many years, GIS has been used in piecemeal fashion throughout various sectors including energy, transport, agricultural, government and disaster management. A national GIS platform will allow organisations to utilise shared information – connecting the country’s myriad cities.
The national GIS platform – made accessible as a national outward-facing portal – will support good governance, public services, sustainable development and, ultimately, empower a billion-plus people.
Concurrently, the national workforce will be equipped with the skills to build and use the platform, with applications designed for e-government, census data and natural resource management, among other things.
In addition to the NKN, a government-focused network is being designed which will tie India’s estimated 250,000 local councils – or gram panchayats – together through optical fibre.
Meanwhile, the country is creating a technology platform allowing data to be shared between police departments, intelligence agencies and community services.
Another ambitious project taking place within this decade of innovation will see every Indian resident allocated with a unique identification (ID) number that stores biometric data, including fingerprints and iris codes.
This information will be stored on an ID platform, with citizens able to link these unique IDs to bank accounts, mobile phones, ration cards, food distribution channels and employment applications.
It will allow India to reengineer its government processes and education system, help boost the agriculture and health industries, and improve public service delivery in every corner of the country.
The overarching goal of the NKN, and its associated projects, is to connect India’s vast, growing population via knowledge and information – and GIS technology is playing a major role in the country’s current transformation.