Large business houses as well as government key projects like rural electrification and national health mission are continuously trying to understand where the demand for their products and services are coming from and how their networks can respond to such demands. US-based tech firm Esri is helping find these answers with the help of geographic information systems (GIS) technology and spatial analytics. With the government focusing on ‘Digital India’ and ‘Smart Cities’ projects, Esri is looking to step up deployment of its solutions in India. “Today, hundreds of thousands of organisations use GIS for managing their systems of records, making maps and performing spatial analytics. The unique power of GIS rests in its ability to integrate multiple sources of information and provide a common visual language which businesses, governments and individuals can understand,” said Dean Angelides, corporate director, Esri. With governments collecting and managing vast amounts of data tied to a location, maps and spatial analysis can make sense of those data and analyse complex issues and reveal hidden patterns, leading to informed decision-making. “We are working with quite a few cities right now. And, most of the cities find it very important to have a good system of engagement with the citizens. So, we look at the data availability in the city and we create a GIS portal and connect all the data which can be accessed by citizens,” said Angelides.
A number of Indian states are also investing in GIS for creating a common collaborative platform where all the departments can be connected and use it for their benefits. For example, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Jharkhand have already built GIS portals that are live and running.
According to Esri, Reliance Jio started using GIS from the time it conceptualised the Jio project. Similarly, Airtel ran its ‘Open Network’ campaign on Esri GIS platfom. Companies like Adani Group, Reliance Energy, BSES Rajdhani are using GIS technology in a significant way.
Esri now sees an evolution from GIS prototypes and concepts into operational systems. At different stages of this journey, young start-ups can catalayse the process with new ideas. So, the GIS giant is running a global startup programme. “Under that programme, in India, we are currently supporting more than 50 start-ups. The programme was launched two-years ago. We provide software to start-ups and give technical support to make sure they are able to use the software effectively. In addition, we work with other Indian start-ups that are trying to create software products,” said Angelides.
It is also working with big system integrators like HCL and TCS. “Probably having people understand what the capabilities are of GIS and how to apply them are the biggest challenge,” said Angelides.