An interesting article in the Hindustan Times recently showed how India is investing in satellite imaging technology for purposes such as thwarting illegal construction, traffic monitoring, and urban planning.
Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Science and Technology, claims that within 14 months, all of New Delhi could exist in digital, 3D mapping form at a cost of less than 1 billion rupees, roughly equivalent to $22 million US. Presumably, fines from illegal construction, as well as increased permit fees from those aware of the new enforcement, will help offset the cost of the project. In addition, Sibal noted other applications of the 3D mapping project, such as crowd management, tax collection for properties, and utilities management.
Sibal’s demonstration of the technology to a group of other Indian cabinet ministers and local Delhi officials showed data from a 20 km2 zone of New Delhi. This data was apparently impressive enough that the officials “assured that this technology would be implemented all over Delhi and later to other metropolitan cities.”
As for the technical underpinnings of the project, according to Dr R. Siva Kumar (Head of Natural Resource Data Management System and National Spatial Data Infrastructure Division of India’s Department of Science and Technology), the department (along with the Russian Academy of Sciences) integrated the following technologies into the New Delhi mapping project:
Quickbird satellite imagery Global positioning systems (GPS) Geographical information system (GIS) Photos and information from a ground survey of each house in the specific zone area
These data combined to produce a database of 157,000 images of buildings, “which gave a spatial 3-D multi-media map.”
In terms of curtailing unauthorized construction, the end result, Kumar said, is that “the software would compare the new data produced by the live cameras and automatically flag any change noticed in any building.”
This would enable authorities to immediately utilize live-action cameras to pinpoint the exact location of illegal construction and gather photographic evidence to be used in court.
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