Friday, November 30, 2007

First National Conference on Geovisualisation: Welcome Address by Prof. M P Ranjan

Image: Screenshot of village study done by NID students as part of the Data Visualisation course to explore applications for geovisualisationWelcome Address delivered to the 1st National Conference on GeoVisualisation held at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad on 28th to 30th November 2007. This was co-sponsored by The NRDMS (DST) Government of India, New Delhi and the NID, Ahmedbad.

Prof. M P Ranjan
Chairman, Geovisualisation Task Group
Faculty of Design, National Institute of Design

Welcome to NID and this is a good time to raise some questions as well as to try and provide some answers.

I have four key questions and a host of associated answers. So let me begin with my Welcome address by addressing these one by one.

1. Why GeoVisualisation? What is it anyway?
What are the Issues and opportunities? What are the domains of application? In my personal agenda is another big question, which is, how do we make complex data dealing with geographic spatial implications visible and usable to the ordinary citizen in India.

We stand on a great tradition of cartography in India. A few years ago NID was requested by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India to work with the Office of the Survey of India to develop an exhibition to celebrate the Great Arc project which was the first ever mapping of a part of the globe and this had happened in India some 200 years ago. Since then India has been at the forefront of cartographic traditions and now it is time to take leadership again through excellence in Geovisualisation. In this we would be happy to partner with the NRDMS-DST who have sponsored this event as well as reflect on the work done in Ahmedabad by ISRO and many other organizations that has set a platform for this new field of Geovisualisation to take root in India with a strong partnership between Design and science and technology initiatives.

2. Why Design?
Design is now being defined as a much broader field that takes intentions to the creation of value to society and ecology through a process of thoughts and actions. Design deals with products and applications and it has a user focus while the dominant ideology is having a technology focus especially in the fields of application that we are dealing with in the areas of geovisualisation.
Through design we intend to address the needs of many sectors including education, development, planning, management and most critical of all in the induction of innovation into this sector and all the potential applications so that we can unfold huge value in the process of both creation as well as delivery.

3. Why this Conference?
The geovisualisation agenda can only be addressed by adopting a multi-disciplinary context as a given condition for moving forward since so many disparate skill sets would need to be integrated and this is an attempt to bring all these skill sets to a common platform to address our complex needs and opportunities. This is also an attempt to bring together the multiple knowledge domains of geography, cartography, computation, visualization and design in the service of real challenges that call for the use of geospatial data and representation for the core tasks of local planning as well as in decision support systems in a number of domains of application. We also need to build awareness, commitment and the linkages that are necessary to make the whole operation to be useful to the people at large in many parts of the country as well as in many walks of life and at many levels, local and national.

4. Why at NID?
The Institutional objectives of NID has taken us down a path of discovery and in recent years NID has set up a number of new initiatives that deal with technology design fusion that has culminated in the setting up of new programmes and disciplines and the setting up of two new campuses in Gandhinagar and at Bangalore. Both these initiatives are to supplement the work that has been done over the years at the Paldi campus dealing with promoting design as a core ability in a huge number of sectors of our economy, in my estimate, about 230 sectors that are in critical need of that discipline. NID has proposed the setting up of a Centre for Geovisualisation to provide a platform for research and design explorations in the various sectors of application of geovisualisation which would need a strong interface with the already developed areas of science and technology with particular emphasis in making these applications user friendly by addressing opportunities in usability and accessibility by those who need it the most. We hope to use this conference to help build the agenda for research and education to be conducted by the proposed centre and I would call on the participants to provide directions and suggestions for the NID team to take forward in the days ahead. We are also interested in showing through our interest and actions that the various investments in science, technology and management need to be supplemented by investments and the use of design in this very critical new field and that this would influence other such initiatives for partnership across disciplines in the days ahead.

Welcome to NID and to Ahmedabad. I would, like to take this opportunity to welcome all the speakers and delegates, students and experts to NID as well as to compliment the NID and DST teams that have done the background work to make this happen. I would particularly mention Dr Bibuda Baral and Rupesh Vyas of NID and Dr D Dutta of NRDMS, DST, Government of India and to their teams for their sustained efforts to help realize this event. I would also take this opportunity to thank the Geovisualisation Task Force team as the Chairman of the Committee for their active support in leading the deliberations that have culminated in the launch of the first National Conference on Geovisualisation and for setting in motion a chain of events that will be of huge significance in the years ahead. I will be speaking later on the theme of usability and in my presentation I will share my views on areas of application and on the design opportunities that I see for the read ahead in the field of Geovisualisation in India.

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