Digital transformation the GIS way

For me an as army veteran , map reading was more a art than science (GPS). The ability to navigate in unknown terrain without being

spotted is the crux of the map reading. The first introduction to this art was in the map reading theory class at the military academy .

For me an as army veteran , map reading was more a art than science (GPS). The ability to navigate in unknown terrain without being

spotted is the crux of the map reading. The first introduction to this art was in the map reading theory class at the military academy . The practical classes were on top of  nearby hill tops with  army map in hand and find out your own location with the exact six figure grid reference and identify distant hill tops on the map. Even today the army teaches you basic map reading and you need to pass the practical as well as tactical appreciation test using the  map. So understanding the terms – contours, scale, magnetic north, re-entrant, whale back, ring contour and the trig heights was essential to be understood and used along with the age old reliable compass. So the question that comes in mind, why  don’t they use the GPS or Google  maps ? The answer is simple all these gizmos and apps leave a digital footprint of where the soldier is positioned [ so the enemy knows where you are standing] . The army makes use of the latest technology in secure way but also banks upon the legacy method of map reading. IRNSS, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System….is Indian version of the GPS to be functional in the near future to provide positioning, navigation and timing services for users over Indian region.

The earliest map mentioned by Wikipedia–says that around  600 BC ,Anaximander was the first to draw a map of the known world, It is for this reason that he is considered by many to be the first mapmaker or Cartographer, we have come a long way with discovery of new  lands ,and in all these activities the role of maps cannot be underestimated.Map making or cartography  has been one of the most important achievements for humankind, as it was because of this mankind was able to spread throughout the globe. I won’t be wrong in saying – due to map the commerce/business expanded. GIS is the modern avatar of map making /cartography and all  industries have a use case for using GIS to further the return on investments. GIS applications can be disruptive and fuel the digital transformation in the industries still untouched by IT.

Today the GIS is the solution for all the mapping needs and opens  a complete new stack for IT . The digitization of the geo features enables the user to correlate the data points giving insights into the business metrics. So what is digitizing ? , it is the process of converting an analogue map into a digital format . Data forms the backbone of the GIS , spatial data is available mostly in analogue form i.e. in the form of maps, imageries, aerial photographs etc. Perhaps the biggest bottleneck in the GIS industry is the proper reproduction of the analogue data into digital form.. .this process is resource and capital intensive , the solution can display rich data that eases the decision making process.Value add can be the integration of big data and predictive analytics with the various layers of GIS can be a force multiplier.

The digitization process basically involves the raster to vector format conversion. Following are the common process used for digitization.

  •      Manual Digitizing [ It is done using digitizing tablet]
  •      Heads-up Digitizing [Accuracy is better and takes lesser time than the above process]
  •    Interactive tracing method [better digitizing in terms of speed and accuracy]
  •     Automatic Digitizing [high speed and accuracy along with improved quality of images.]

Application of GIS

  • Telecom – CSP ,ISV and the enterprise business have a variety of use case for GIS – display the important KPIs and status of alarms on the map for proactive action to mitigate outages.
  •   Medical and Healthcare – This can be at the pan nation level as well as global level to depict the health care metrics for various serious medical conditions correlated with the geo climate [temperature/humidity/altitude]. Also the movement of healthcare medicines and equipment and tracking the location of ambulances.
  •  Manufacturing – Tracking the raw materials movement [Just in time or the pull model] and the finished goods location.
  •  IT Industry – The monitoring of switches [metrics] for proactive actions before outage.
  •   Logistics – Tracking the movement of train/aircraft/trucks and the various transit warehouse
  •   e Commerce – Tracking the orders in a geo area with the availability of SKU to ensure minimum transportation cost and time.
  •   Disaster Management – Use Satellite images and 3 D maps for planning and rescue missions.
  • e Governance – Enable the various dept to monitor the geo locations with the connected metrics updated on the GIS. Case in point the Digital India [ Bharat net ] initiative tracked on GIS renders the progress of the fiber laying project to the last mile.
  •  Social Media/ TV – GIS renders the count of the tweets with the breakdown of the regions.
  •  Sports – During marathon all participants have RFID for tracking the timing, GIS will give the location of the runners on the map .

GIS stack  can be disruptive and drive  the digital transformation in the

industries still untouched by IT.

On a map it is not how far you are from your objective but how far ahead you have reached in pursuit of that objective….Attitude Matters


By Lt Col Avadhut Deshpande (Retd) – Signals

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