As development projects in the country continue to surge, the need to structure volumes of spatial data becomes imperative. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee delves into a career in geoinformatics that trains a student to do the same.
Today it is common to a have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) installed on your mobile phone as Google maps and other navigation platforms are being used in vehicles with increasing frequency. The common thread that binds all these technologies and makes them work is geoinformatics. Also known as Geographic Information Science (GIS), it is a rapidly expanding field which finds application in various sectors. Almost every industry or administrative organisation must deal with spatial data in some or the other form. Geoinformatics involves proper storage, classification, representation and analysis of this data so that it can be used to maximise output. It visualises different kinds of data, making it easier to deal with logistically difficult engineering problems.
For now, Indian colleges offer geoinformatics at the post graduate level, either as a full time masters or a certificate course. “While the masters course is both theoretical and practical, a certificate course gives students a more hands-on training,” says Navendu Chaudhary, professor, Symbiosis Institute of Geoinformatics, Pune. While it is advisable for students to have a technical background at the undergrad level, those from non technical backgrounds like geography, geology and agriculture can also apply. “Apart from academic qualifications, we look for qualities like ability to work in a team, collaboration, willingness to participate in ongoing research, live projects and networks,” says AP Krishna, head, Remote Sensing, Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi.
The course consists of different branches like photogrammetry, cartography, web mapping, remote sensing and global navigation satellite systems. “The curriculum is designed to cater to diverse fields which use geospatial technology. Thus there are domain specific electives such as resource management and urban planning,” says Chaudhary.
While many engineering students pursue a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), a post graduation in Geoinformatics can be a smart choice. “There is great demand for qualified professionals in more than 150 GIS companies in India and abroad,” says Krishna adding that GIS services are growing by 10-15 per cent per annum.
Apart from the government agencies like National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which recruit regularly, the private sector is also expanding its recruitment in this sector. “We have 200 GIS employees, and add about 50 new candidates,” says Jaipal Charan, head, human resource and recruitment, CyberTech, Thane. An entry level candidate gets paid between Rs 2 – 5lakh per annum in most places with huge scope for further growth.
As colleges contemplate introducing undergraduate courses for geoinformatics, professionals working in the sector are optimistic about future prospects. “Infrastructure development is pivotal to the growth of GIS sector. These technologies can help governments plan cities and de-escalate costs considerably,” says Sadiq Shaikh, GIS operator, CyberTech. With India poised to climb the charts of development, it goes without saying that this sector will continue to grow.