The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Defence casts doubt on address mapping project

New Delhi, May 4: You are driving through an unfamiliar part of town and you cannot find the address. What do you do' You could stop and ask passers-by, provided they are not rude and unhelpful.

Or, you could use a car-mounted, computer-based navigational map that could help you find your bearings with a complete layout of the roads, streets and houses and the important landmarks like religious places, bus stops and shopping complexes.

The department of science and technology has joined hands with US-based global information services company ESRI Incorporated to launch a neighbourhood mapping project that will solve all problems of hunting down hard-to-find addresses.

The project — one of the first of its kind in the country — will involve the supply of GIS-based software and training to 100 schools in the country that they will use to map their neighbouring areas.

GIS is a computer-based system to capture, store, retrieve, analyse and display spatial (locationally-defined) data. GIS is used to develop digital maps, site selection, solve environment-related issues, exploration of natural resources and urban planning.

There’s only one problem: the defence ministry is likely to play spoilsport.

Even if the pilot project takes off, it may not culminate in a big commercial venture with the manufacture of CD or Internet-based navigational maps — which are a rage in the US and Europe — as it has to be formally approved by the defence ministry. And therein lies the rub.

Sources said: “The existing regulations do not allow reproduction of maps in print or digital form without the prior approval of the ministry of defence and the Survey of India. However, the details are illegally available. At a meeting held this week, the defence ministry officials have not approved the proposal (neighbourhood mapping project) but neither have they rejected it.”

The Survey of India is responsible for topographical surveys and publishing authoritative topographical and geographical maps of India. Accordingly, instructions have been issued from time to time by the Government of India (ministries of defence, external affairs, home and erstwhile ministry of scientific research and cultural affairs) imposing restrictions on the scale and content of maps, which are published.

The copyright of all maps published by Survey of India vests with the Government of India and these maps may not be reproduced or used by the publishers without the permission of the surveyor-general of India.

According to a report, about 80 per cent of decisions taken by businesses or the government are related to geography.

According to Rajesh C. Mathur, president of ESRI India, “We are in the process of developing a new product called Arc Globe that has the capacity to allow a user to zoom into a particular house in a locality and also provide the route in digital form. We will be targeting the government departments an d corporate houses to sell the product. It may be made available off the shelf at a later stage for common use by students and others depending on regulations and other parameters.

“We provide consulting in design, development, and manufacturing of data products for publication on CD or via the Internet. Our staff works with an organisation to develop a product concept, designs and builds the database, includes viewing software, reviews and resolves legal issues, develops the documentation, integrates and tests the product elements, manufactures the product, and distributes it via CD-ROM or Internet technology.”

ESRI India is a joint venture between NIIT and ESRI Inc with a Rs 25-crore turnover and a 50 per cent market share in the GIS market.

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