Past, Present and Future of GIS in India

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Location Based Apps for India

Soon several social and biz apps will start leveraging (x,y,z, t, photo/video/other info from remote sensor)!! Time for GIS to come into mainstream and limelight!!, Apple,, etc all all keen to track your location the moment you use the app from your mobile device. More and more will follow and eventually every app will be trying to get your (x,y at specific time). This is extremely powerful information and will be used in more than one ways by companies. Need I elaborate that? Some other day..

How many LBS apps or apps that use "location" exist in India? I will try and find out. If you know of few interesting ones, please let me know.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

R-APDRP - Will it succeed?

R-APDRP is one of the key projects that has consumed lot of "discussion time" amongst GIS professional in India. Even on my blog, you are finding it's mention again and again!!

I found this very interesting student paper where Ambuj Lal has done a "Review of APDRP and RAPDRP"

Ambuj has made very interesting & relevant comment: "If R-APDRP fails and most likely, it will, the failure would squarely rest on MoP and the PFC, who have goofed up the entire execution, stating that if we give utilities the right to think and act on their own, the projects will fail. PGCIL which was the earlier consultant failed in APDRP-I. A set of 5-6 consultant panels in APDRP-II or R-APDRP also has not had much success. In essence then, the reason for the failure of R-APDRP would be attributed to the wrong strategy and approach of MoP and PFC both on technical and contractual issues and empaneling of vendors and the confusing specifications that has been made, with no teeth to consultant, resulting in all Utilities facing the dire consequences of grant becoming loan, and thereby eroding their already weak financial position"

While Ambuj Lal's paper clearly indicates that he has done extensive study and analysis to draw final conclusions, several other seasoned professionals have also drawn their "conclusions" on why with R-APDRP fail. Fact is that almost everyone is "struggling" and more often then once, there is specific mention of "GIS" as one of the key contributing factors for failures of R-APDRP.

But let me ask you - what do you think is required to make R-APDRP (and more specifically GIS survey) successful?


PS: I strongly believe that the current situation can be turned around. What it needs is for us to focus on how can it be corrected then on why will it fail!! This is an exceptional opportunity for GIS industry to develop additional skill sets and position itself for a brighter future!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where's Lalit Modi? Don't ask me who is he!!

Check out:

Great mash-up.

Next time - do demonstrate technology- I expect "a band" to be made compulsory to be used by Lalit Modi, so that one can find his real time location.


ps: I have keen interest in technology but little interest in Lalit Modi's whereabout!

Monday, May 9, 2011

If Obama can find Osama Using Geo-Spatial Technolgy, why can't you map, track, monitor and kill your competition?

It's interesting to note that Geospatial Technology played significant role in tracking and monitoring OBL. Gepatial Technology was used for:

1. Creating three-dimensional renderings of the Abbottabad compounds using imagery and laser-based sensing devices--laser radar, or ladar.

2. Analyzing data from a sophisticated next-generation drone that kept watch on the compound before, during, and after the raid. The drone was an RQ-170 built by Lockheed Martin.

3. Helping the Joint Special Operations Command create mission simulators for the pilots who flew the helicopters into the breach

4. Providing to the CIA and other policymakers assessments of the number of people who lived inside the compound, their heights and genders.

How was this possible? Apart from normal mapping - remotely identification of what an object or a building is made out of, conducted sophisticated pattern analysis of human characteristics, like gait and body size, carried out facial recognition using sophisticated software and used hyperspectral sensors to get information below the surface!!

So I must ask this simple question to businesses in India - If Obama can find Osama Using Geo-Spatial Technolgy, why can't you map, track, monitor and kill your competition? You will need just a fraction of all the sophisticated techniques mentioned above!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Geographic Information Can make you and me healthy!

Folks - Please view this.

If anyone of you come up with app idea or product idea, and want to take that to implementation stage - get in touch with me!!

Also, before you buy home - do try to assess the "environment" around the place where you will eventually live !!

Geographic Information Can make you and me healthy! And if you have a good app or biz plan, that can make you and me wealthy as well!!

What's wrong with acquisition's?

This is an interesting phase in Indian GIS Industry. I had strongly believed that Indian GIS market has an extremely bright future and I continue to carry the same belief. The type and size of projects that are and will be executed in India are extremely challenging and huge! And this trend will continue in foreseeable future. Additionally I expect that "Private Sector" will also "embrace" GIS based solutions much more than done in past. Hopefully, I will be able to share some of my thoughts on that subject, in near future.

There are "rumors" that a large GIS company will be acquired soon. I get calls, emails and questions on different forums from people asking me about my opinion on what's my take on the news. Here's what I feel:

1. There is NOTHING WRONG in acquisition. This is a normal market phenomenon. Open any business paper and you can read about mergers and acquisition's almost on daily basis!

2. Usually acquisition's are good for all parties. Company that spends money in acquiring businesss spends more money and efforts to unlock value and maximizing returns from the investment. This may lead to change in direction of acquired company and hence better growth compared to past! But then this change is what the original company needed!!

3. International market have several examples like NavTeq by Nokia, MapInfo by Pitney Bowers, ERDAS by Hexagon, Intergraph by Hexagob etc. and we have seen that acquired companies have done well. There can be argument about degree and direction but fact is that growth has happened. Indian examples are fewer and far between and that's largely because of small industry size.

4. Good employees and good managers stand to gain from such step. Those who have got into a comfort zone and don't want to change, are the ones who are likely to be negatively impacted but that number is usually very small!!

5. A deal is not done, until its done and hence it shall NOT BE be discussed in public. A rumor is a rumor and let's not speculate!!

Why am I writing this? It will help me to redirect emails and calls to this post and I will save some time!

Overall, this is exciting time! For the GIS market - in general. If this rumor is proved correct, my earlier belief that SI will play a much bigger and much more decisive role in Indian GIS industry will be resolved even further!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Ails Enterprise GIS in India

Folks: Sorry for staying out of scene. Don't get time to do so...

However, I have been regularly channelizing my thought on Indian GIS market through GeoSpatial Today (

One of my earlier post , i converted into an article.

To check the magazine version - check the following link: Check page 32-33


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why is Enterprise GIS implementation penetration low in India?

Back in action after few months!!! Reason, I will be visiting GIS India show tomorrow to get reconnected with GIS community and I realized that the blog is not updated.!

Sometime back, someone asked to to give my views on Indian GIS market. I decided to analyze the reasons for low implementation of enterprise wide GIS systems in India - specially private sector.

Indian Geospatial Market is on the verge of a humongous growth. We are witnessing huge growth spurts; companies are bagging projects that are valued more than the total annual revenue of company. In the early 1990s, most Indian GIS companies relied on outsourced business from overseas market with US accounting for bulk of business followed by UK/Europe. Indian business used to account for less that 10 per cent of the overall business of large companies. However, trends are changing and so is the equation as business from the Indian market is increasing and what is noticeable is a fine geographic mix of business. It is a welcome change, albeit a bit slow.

GIS, in India, is coming of age. Gone are the days when it used to be a fashion statement and people would harp on how governments use GIS. Now the momentum has is picking up and all the rhetoric is transforming into reality This is largely attained due to government focus on use of GIS and large initiatives like R-APDRP and NLRMP but this is just the start. US GIS market had seen growth in 1980s on account of parcel digitizing (sort of subset of our NLRMP) and in 1990s on account of large AM/FM conversion projects. For India, both growth shots are administered at the same time. Landscape of competing companies is also changing very quickly with companies like HCL, Infosys and Wipro showing interest in Indian GIS projects. TCS and Satyam were trying to use GIS from the early years, while TCS is getting more and more active, Mahnidra Satyam still needs to find its feet in Indian market. In addition to that huge number of small companies has also mushroomed.

In true sense, both NRLRM and R-APRDRP projects will give effective results only when an effective enterprise GIS system is deployed by the states. In the private sectors utility companies (Telecom, Power, and Gas) are early adopter of GIS and lot of them will keep on enhancing their enterprise GIS systems. So the industry will witness state of art GIS based enterprise systems in coming years. However, sadly, rest of the private sector is significantly lagging behind in enterprise GIS implementation.

One can argue that implementation of enterprise GIS systems is lagging in India because of economic slowdown around the world. But, this is the time to implement enterprise GIS systems as GIS will help in increasing operational efficiencies. GIS solutions can help organizations overcome their operational challenges and deliver improved profitability. Banks, retailers, realtors, insurers, asset managers, and others seek to understand markets better before embracing GIS for micro and targeting marketing, optimizing business openings and closings, segmenting consumer data, and managing fleets. GIS can visualize, manage, and analyze any business asset (employees, customers, and facilities, all the way to the supply chain network) because it has a place in the world. Over 75 per cent of business data has an address component. Sadly though, the “eco-system” for enterprise system deployment in India is not highly conducive and even though there is lot of ideas on table, implementation is not as cost effective and hence has not gathered momentum.

Reasons for less adoption
There are several reasons for less adoption and implementation of enterprise wide GIS systems in private sector in India, the top two are:
a) Low cost, high quality standard GIS base map
b) India specific Geocoding engine

a) Low cost, high quality standard GIS base map
You need a base map for your GIS enterprise implementation. A base map on top with which company business specific layer or information or assets can be mapped. Sadly though, blame it to less adoption by market or low investment by Indian GIS companies or on Indian government mapping policy, there is no standard national base map that can be used by enterprises and application developers.

Even in R-APDRP projects, base map will be generated by the states from scratch. This is shear wastage of efforts and resources. There was and still is window of opportunity for companies TeleAtlas and Navteq to push their high quality maps as base maps (as derivative product) but with respective acquisitions by TomTom and Nokia, these companies seems to be going slow on government and private sector data sales.
Indian companies like Computer Eyes (MapMayIndia), SatNav, ML Info etc are still trying to crack this market with varied level of success. Google is also creating its own Google Maps but adoption of the data is so far low at enterprise level. Advocacy to use Hybrid map (satellite data merged with limited vector data like prominent landmarks) has still not lost momentum but the fact remains that if there was a single base layer available for organisations that is high quality and low cost, application development for enterprises will gain momentum.
In the present scenario, few of companies get their own base map developed and then over time, the GIS implementation is sub-optimal as the base maps get outdated. Large Telcos in India are using their GIS systems sub-optimally simply because of the base map issue. Or are ending up spending money (like Reliance) to keep them updated.

b) India specific geocoding engine

In UK, using Postcode Address File (PAF) of Royal Mail you can do a building level Geocoding– a feature that is used by numerous organizations for visualization of addresses in GIS. In US, there are numerous commercial geocoders available that provide a street level geocode of any address. For select Metro area, parcel level geocoders are also available. In India, at best you can get locality level match. So if you have to do accurate mapping of your individual consumer database on GIS, that has to be done manually, a huge cost and time deterrent for any enterprise GIS implementation that wants to deal with geographic visualization of the address database.

Not many GIS/product companies have tried to develop an India specific geocoder. Large part of the reason is non standard addressing in India but to some extent it has to do with the fact that we do not have a government data-source as a start point unlike US and UK. While there is a huge initiative taken up by department of post to modernize,, develop a geo-tagged address database this will be a huge effort. One hopes that UID project will map each address and potentially geocoded address database could be developed from the UID database (as a by product, provided each UID is tagged geographically to an address).

There are reports that Google is working on an India specific geo-coder. If the geocoder is available for rest of the industry for developing applications, it will give a huge fillip to the Indian enterprise GIS application development. Tele Atlas and Navteq also has incentive to develop geo-coder (database). Not sure if that's going to happen, given Google moves has put TA and Navteq on back foot!!

In addition to the above two key reason, lack of availability of high quality demographic data in GIS format will probably be third key hindrance in development of enterprise GIS. Essentially you need to free the enterprises for the core issues and challenges of basic GIS data layers for them to focus on their business need and leverage GIS for enterprise efficiency enhancement.
Five years down the line (by 2015) hope is that substantial data (from government departments) may be available for enterprise GIS developers and business to exploit it and develop enterprise GIS applications. So while Indian GIS companies are busy executing R-APDRPs or NLRMPs or other government programs and missions, there is an opportunity for someone to address these basis issues and exploit the so far relatively untapped enterprise GIS systems market in India. Regardless, the Indian GIS future appears extremely bright!!

I look forward to meet with many of you over the GIS India event!! See you at Gurgaon - place that I have got to know really well in last 3 years - as one that has given highest real estate returns in the entire NCR market in last decade!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

What motivates blogger? I was missing from action for a while

I was a bit tied up. The core business on real estate information front side, appearance on TV channels, travel, socializing and facebook took most of the time! But I keep on coming back to think about GIS market!! Some investment interest, past friends and contacts keep discussing GIS and I keep on hearing about events/happening on GIS space. Few tit-bits for you:

1. In past I have blogged about routeguru . Looks like these young entrepreneurs are not able to monetize their idea. So the old school has won! Also, I have not seen too many GIS based product start-ups in a while. So you if you come across someone, send me details. But I am still hopeful that the people on whom I have put my bet will succeed.

2. Met with two companies (one survey focused and other GIS solutions focused) last week. Even after their existence for more than 6 years, these folks do not have seizable revenues. Focus - only India market. But both entrepreneurs were bullish about future of the company and satisfied with what they have been able to archive! Confusing signals!!

3. Got call from three survey focused companies. Hmm.. everyone talking about R-APDRP and the recent 400 Cr ($100 million) plus GIS project award . So at what rate it makes sense to do consumer survey? Will such projects be viable? I have some comments on this but will write later. Should I!!! BTW people in general are skeptical but

4. There is some level of interest coming from US/international companies to start business in India. But they are struggling with India positioning !!! (Sorry, can't share much details about these companies. Thanks to industry contacts and blogs, two of the companies have spoken with me but it will be inappropriate for me to reveal any further details.

5. Has lengthy chat about Indian GIS Industry and GIS industry in general with two Indian GIS industry veterans (and my good friends). Both are playing leading roles in their respective companies (and their companies at some point were directly competing with ESRI - but no more). Surprisingly both do not see much future for GIS experts!!! This topic deserves much bigger discussion and separate post!!

6. Met with one of the large user of GIS in India. Let me correct - one of the select companies in private space that have spent money (upward of few million USD) on GIS system. The opening statement - GIS is more of a trouble now. We are not able to use as data quality is really poor!!!

Net - net, looks like nothing much have changed in Indian GIS market. Large contract awards, struggling new companies, not so satisfied large corporates!!

So the opportunity exists.. or is my optimism for industry there simple because I always think positive!! Too much to ponder upon and analyze. Hope I get a chance to do so and come up with a blog that contains facts and analysis!!

Hopefully soon!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

IS GIS fashion or Obsession in India?

Election commission in India has adopted GIS in big way. Before the recent general election, I watched an interview of CEC (Chief Election Commissioner) of India about delimitation of parliamentray constituencies. He was referring the use of GIS Software for delimiation as if everyone watching NDTV knew what is GIS!!! It was facinating to see the use of technology that we have profess as OUR baby, now becoming almost pevasive.

NDTV, looks like took a cue from that inteview and was heaving relying on Google Maps to show the election results to its viewers.

But the best piece of new I have save for you goes as follows:


Election Commission to use Census data, GPS to track voters

Delhi Bureau , August 25, 2008 12:25 IST

In an attempt to curb bogus voting and monitor the migration of voters across India, the Election Commission is planning to link the Census data of 2011 with its electoral rolls. The EC then plans to use global positioning system to automatically record the voters' migration or shifting of residence.

A software, developed for this specific purpose, will be demonstrated to the Election Commission by the Registrar General of India at the Nirvachan Sadan.

Once the Census data is made available to the Election Commission, it will be clubbed with the electoral rolls. The GPS chip would be added to the electronic photo identity cards already issued to the voters.

The identity card will enable the Election Commission to record the movement of voters and pinpoint their location at the time of polling.

The ID will also detect bogus voters, said Commission sources said.

The GPS will also cut down the time taken in revising electoral rolls, as it will provide automatic updates on the basis of the voter's location, the sources said.

The RGI, which carries out the Census every decade, agreed to make the necessary changes in the software to facilitate its data's link-up with the electoral rolls.

According to sources, this data would be useful for the timely demarcation and delimitation of constituencies.


This is on! Guess the budget for the above project!

Is GIS now an obsession on India? And are we trying to learn from projects done is US/UK/Canada?

Your comments?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Indian GIS Market: On an Upswing

Indian GIS market will grow much faster than any other market in world! The die is cast!!

Indian GIS market is witnessing a major transformation**. Central Government (Federal Government) has spent several hundred crore Indian rupees (Several 100 million $s) under APRDP-R and National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) and planning to spend much more in future. Sample this - Rs 473 cores was allocation in NLRMP last year – that mean almost 100 million USD at the start of the projects!!!

“NLRMP has been approved by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 21.8.2008. The budget provision for the Scheme during the current year (2008-09) is Rs.473.00 crore. Accordingly, it is proposed to implement the NLRMP across the country and to make it fully operational over the next five to eight year period”

If we put together all the budgeted numbers that are planned for GIS related expenditure by Indian government, it will be a substantial percentage of the “total world GIS market size” estimated by Daratech report!! Actually, Daratech report of past years has given a complete slip to the Indian market (and none of the Indian companies figure in the list of Daratech)!!! All that should change for good now!!! And BTW, in addition to the government planning, some serious money in being spent in private sector as well!!!

Today’s TOI Business page has interesting news – “Finmin set to web-monitor infra projects – GIS Mapping will enable Officials Identify Causes of Delay, Deadline Miss”. . This GIS based process is $800K project. And you will hear many more in coming days.

For last few days, I started doing some research to re-assess and re-evaluate the Indian market. It will take me few more weeks to put together a market size evaluation and document the new dynamics in market (yes, its changing fast). Those of you who are interesting may send a request for the copy of report to me.

But there are several big question: Where is all the money going? Are these big budget projects getting successfully implemented? Are companies making money on these projects? Are Indian companies/government seeking out expertise from countries like Canada and USA to learn from the experience and mistakes committed by the countries who have invested heavily on GIS based systems?

Is Indian GIS market mature? More on this in future but I am keen to share an Incident that is almost 10 years old! There was a tender by Municipal Corporation of an IT savvy Indian state for a GIS project. Who’s who of Indian GIS industry participated in the pre-bid meeting. At least 30 executives of top companies converged in the city. Several thousand $ must have been spent by companies on preparation for the bid! Finally the project was awarded for USD200, yes there is no K in that – Rs 10,000 only!!! And all big companies lost out. Chairman of that company is a good friend and his logic was very interesting – he said my objective was to beat you(RMSI), Infotech & Rolta and I have done it!!! Cheers.

How different is situation now? Let’s discuss in coming days!!!

Manoj Misra

PS: ** I am fascinated by the word “Transformation”! My favorite questions, when I used to interview staff for technical positions used to be – what’s the difference between “Projection” and “Transformation”!!! The big question about Indian market is – is this “Projection” of market or true “Transformation”?

Monday, March 9, 2009


Is Indian GIS story still on? I have no doubts!!! As always, I am extremely bullish about the future of GIS in India.. In the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to have interacted with some extremely talented GIS professionals and "GIS" entrepreneurs. Almost every one echoes my view!!!

Tope story in today's edition of Economic Times reads "Spreading CHEERS - INDIAN ARMS BRIGHTEN UP MNC STORY"

"INDIAN subsidiaries, relatively minor cogs in the wheels of large multinational companies till 2007, have emerged crucial profit generators, as earnings in developed western markets tumble amid the worst economic downturn in a generation. 

Barring a few exceptions, the locally-listed units of companies such as ABB, Glaxo, Siemens, Cummins, Oracle, Suzuki, Whirlpool, Nestle and Areva have increased their contribution to the global consolidated earnings as growth remains robust across various sectors of Indian industry.

 Significantly, this has happened despite a sharp depreciation of the rupee against major international currencies in the past one year, which tends to depress earnings in dollar terms as the dollar value of the subsidiary’s contribution is lower after currency conversion. Had this not happened, the contribution of these Indian units would have been much higher”

So how’s Indian arm of ESRI, Liaca, Intergraph, Autodesk, Bentley, Pitney Bowes etc doing in India? It’s anybody’s guess.


  • What’s different between Indian an ROW (Rest of World)?
  • What are the “facts” and “figures” behind this growth story?
  • Where’s the money being spent? And who’s chasing this money?
  • How’s technology driving the changes here in India?
  • How’s the landscape of Indian GIS industry is changing? Believe you me – it’s changing at a very fast pace!!
  • Has Navteq and TeleAtlas made any impact as yet Indian GIS market? How still CE (MapmyIndia) and Satnav bullish about pumping money into content development?


Stay tunes to hear from me… this time I will convert my “wish” into a “will” to write and I will!!!


Manoj Misra

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