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Spring 2007
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GIS Viewed as Strategic Economic Development Tool

Asia-Pacific Conference Brings Together Leading Esri Users

Asia Pacific logoHistorically, India has enjoyed a favorable reputation as a strong, capable center for data conversion. As reflected in the high level of technical expertise demonstrated at the conference, as well as the broad scope of applications on display, it is clear that developers and other professionals in the region are creating a center of excellence for GIS project development.

The Second Annual Esri Asia-Pacific User Conference, hosted by Esri India (NIIT-GIS Ltd.), attracted more than 1,100 delegates and notables from across the region to New Delhi, India, for two days of discussion and exchange at the Taj Palace Hotel. The theme was "GIS for Economic Development," which was particularly relevant, as the Asia-Pacific region is in the midst of rapid change. This change, largely an effect of globalization, is supported by the rapid development, transmission, and use of information and knowledge.

Commented keynote speaker and Esri president Jack Dangermond, "There is no question that the university environment in these countries is helping stimulate growth and understanding through strong computer science and other related IT initiatives getting involved at the base level of understanding GIS and its applications."

With respect to Esri products, this new focus reflects heavy deployments of ArcGIS Engine in the Esri Developer Network (EDN) environment. This combination provides the ideal environment for those in the developer world to build value-added solutions for many industries.

"As in many other technical fields," added Dangermond, "the Asia-Pacific region is exploding in its application and implementation of GIS as a platform technology. NIIT-GIS Ltd. last year alone recorded a 60 percent growth, and similar stories exist in Australia, China, and Thailand."

According to Dangermond, this growth reflects not only the increased awareness and perception of the value of GIS but also the general understanding of its capabilities to provide fundamental IT infrastructure for planning and economic development. The countries in this region are not only advancing the implementation of GIS at home but are also beginning to be recognized throughout the world for their application skills.

Observes Rajendra S. Pawar, NIIT cofounder and chairman, "Over the past decade, GIS has gained in relevance and usage in India. The proliferation and spread of GIS in the country has taken on the flavor of a quiet revolution, with the movement gradually gaining momentum within leading corporations and photo of attendeesgovernment agencies. GIS is becoming part of the ongoing workflow of major industries. For example, the Reliance Group, one of the leading companies in India, is using GIS across many of its operations. Once its GIS is fully implemented, Reliance will have a total end-to-end GIS-centric solution."

The growing popularity of GIS rests in large part on the increasing awareness of GIS solutions and the beneficial impact they can have on business, the expanding base of professionals trained on these platforms, and the ready availability of cost-effective GIS software that can be deployed on desktops.

A spate of global conferences on GIS, hosted by Indian organizations over the last few years, has revealed a significant community of user companies that are innovatively harnessing the power of GIS to collate information, locate available information spatially, view information from a comprehensive shared database, and customize GIS data for various purposes.

In addition to its reputation as a region that exports its GIS services and application development, there is an increasing domestic demand to support database development and implementation within the Asia-Pacific countries.

The Survey of India alone has national coverage at scales of 1:250,000, 1:50,000, and 1:25,000 in a completely digital environment. In addition, India's Ministry of Science and Technology has indicated that the national coverage will be expanded to include scales of 1:10,000, 1:5,000, and 1:2,000 in all of the country's major metropolitan areas.

This kind of national commitment to spatial data infrastructure reflects the vision of a national government that understands the importance and application of this data. To further promote the use of spatial data, the country launched its National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) portal in 2003 with a goal to use the data at the community, local, state, regional, and national levels for sustained economic growth.

The ultimate success of effective economic development strategies depends on the ability of the strategies to answer a variety of questions about the spatial patterns of households, businesses, and proposed infrastructure facilities within a community, all of which are fundamentally geographic in orientation.

Known internationally for its quality and creativity in GIS application development and implementation, NIIT Technologies is headquartered in New Delhi and maintains regional offices in Asia, Europe, and North America.

More Information

For more information, contact Dave Byers, Esri (e-mail: dbyers@esri.com).

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