Key words: Geographic Information System, Global Position System and Information Technology's impact



 The information technology revolution towards the end of the 20th century is transforming the world. India appears well positioned in the emerging 21st century favorite industry-Information Technology. The excellence of our human resources has helped India make rapid progress and be recognized as emerging super power in information technology. As we now move into knowledge based economy and a global market, India has a comparative advantage in information technology and information technology enabled services. Information technology can play an important role in the urban and regional planning. Its application in resource inventory and management, urban planning, land records, amenities management, market and retail planning, vehicle routing and scheduling, watershed management, wasteland development, environmental impact assessment, disaster management, etc. has already been established and lot of work is going on in the field of urban and regional planning and allied activities using advantages of information technology services. This paper attempts to throw some light on the current information technology scenario, in India with special emphasis on how it can play and important role in planning and sustainable development of cities of tomorrow. The paper focused around three key contemporary planning paradigms (i) ‘sustainable development’ (ii) communicative planning (iii) ‘culture of cities’. The paper states with discussion with application of information technology in urban planning and its activities and management of cities through Geographic Information System (GIS) and city transportation system through Global Position System (GPS). The also highlights about the impact of Cyber Eco Cities spatially, economically and socially.



The information technology (IT) revolution towards the end of the 20th century is transforming the world. India appears well positioned in the emerging 21st century's favorite industry - information technology. As we now move into knowledge based global market, India has a comparable advantage in IT and IT enabled services. Despite its multifaceted application it can play an important role in the sphere of Urban and regional planning. Its application in resource inventory, planning and management, land records, amenity management, market and retail planning, vehicle routing and scheduling, watershed management, wasteland development, environmental impact assessment, disaster management etc has already been established and lot of work is going on in the field of urban and regional planning and allied activities using advantages of IT services.


Application of IT in Planning

Planning is basic to any kind of development. In the context of urban development, planning process postulates a holistic program to achieve a healthy growth of certain facilities and infrastructure. Any planning element of the master plan such as Transport planning, Solid-Waste planning, Site planning, Project planning, Master Planning, Health Services planning, Recreation Facilities planning, etc, traditionally includes planning for construction of the facility, planning for its operation and maintenance and planning for monitoring the evaluation of its performance. The entire planning process is becoming increasingly complex due to ever-growing number of sociological, political and environmental issues involved. This has necessitated employment and application of multifarious knowledge fields. The success of planing endeavor depends largely on quality of knowledge contributed by the experts and how well coordinated are their efforts. IT can contribute a great deal in providing architects, planners and designers consistent, correct and quality information and knowledge and also help co-ordinate their efforts. Here is brief analysis of few of the available technologies with respect to their use in planning.

IT is the advancement in information science, which caters to the information need in various fields for efficient discharging of the functions and dissemination of knowledge. IT is the technology in handling information, which enhances the speed and efficiency of handling huge data and exchange globally. IT increases the efficiency and does right thing in right manner and at right moment with little human error or bias as well as improves the effectiveness of information storage and processing and strengthens the operational activities. Therefore, it would be desirable to take full advantages of IT in building database at grass root level which subsequently will be the main information base for ultimate decision making process and plan formulation. 


IT Application for Urban Activities

Urban activities are dynamic in nature and maintain the development activities very important to decide the direction of future developments. The information technology along with Geographic Information System (GIS) has provided an exciting potential for geographic information to be used more systematically by a greater diversity of disciplines, than ever before. With the advent of computers, rapid and accurate analysis, storing, display, manipulation, and integration of spatial and non-spatial data in a problem-solving environment is possible.

IT in combination for planners provides systematic collection, updating, processing distribution of land-related data and information about zoning, properties, roads, schools and parks, all pertain to geographic location.

IT is the advancement in information science, which caters to the information need in various fields for efficient discharging of the functions and dissemination of knowledge. IT not only increases the efficiency of an office level but also enhances customer service, does right thing in right manner and at right moment with little human error or bias as well as improves the effectiveness of information storage and processing and strengthen the operational activities. Therefore, it would be desirable to take full advantages to it in building database at grass root level which subsequently will be the main information base for ultimate decision making process and plan formulation.

Transportation Information system to advanced Vehicle Control System, where in spatial data is required to support functions ranging from real time traffic management, traveler guidance, commercial vehicle operations to automated vehicle control. Similarly, the concept of "Intelligent Homes" may play a vital role as a symbolic node of home working, home shopping, home banking and home leisure etc., in the new millennium.


IT Application for City Management through GIS

The Geographic Information System defined as an integrated information system linked with geo-reference, in general, is a computer aided technology primarily designed for capturing, storing, transforming, manipulating, processing, retrieving, analysing, displaying, and queering huge volume of spatial and time series data normally called elements in the form of maps and tables and inter-linking them as when necessary through automated and semi automated procedures. In fact it is a powerful tool for management and analysis of huge spatial data. From technical point of view it is a computer based information system capable of manipulating entities having both the location and non-location properties. GIS technology has conceived a system, which is quite attractive to the planners in formulating plan preparation as an alternative approach, Application in GIS in the field of planning & development includes, land use analysis, developmental planning, environmental planning, transportation planning, areas development control plan, zoning plan etc.

GIS in planning is concerned with the location based physical infrastructure viz., drainage sewerage water supply, pipeline, tanks, roads, network at different hierarchy as well as social infrastructure viz., location of school, bank, cinema hall, post office, hospitals. The most important benefit of a GIS is its ability to spatially interrelate multiple type of information stemming form a range of sources and has the scope for integrating information on the trend of development on a spatial base form various sources through the network system.

GIS is one of the powerful tool being used for a wide range of applications such as transportation planning, site suitability analysis, development planning, preparing work orders to repair roads and sevres to provide comparative analysis of alternative development plans. Some of the applications of GIS are listed below:

Department of Space, India used GIS for Bharatpur district with the objective to carry out intra-district disparities, land disparities, land capability assessment, and analysis for agriculture development, functionality assessment of settlements and village accessibility assessment. GIS based study was also carried out for macro-level urban planning of Bombay Metropolitan Region to analyse data for suitability for urbanization, assessment of environmental sensitive zones, urban growth profile and air pollution in the year 1992. Another study is being carried out for preparing District Plan of Bulandshehar (Uttar Pradesh)

ARC/ INFO GIS software was used by Bourke (1993) for Scotland's National Housing Development Agency, to develop a data base for (i) major boundaries post code sector, district, region (ii) 1981 census variables, (iii) post code address file, and (iv) 1981 census, which allowed useful socio-economic analysis. Hariadi and Cameron (1993) carried out a GIS based study to support sustainable development in Semarang district, Indonesia. Land resource and other regional information were analysed in combination to produce information on basis resources status, land suitability, land use change as well as scenarios for development and planning urbanization in an optimal manner. Ventura (1997) carried out a study in Dane country, USA to demonstrate that the automation of land records and land data in GIS have multiple planning applications, such as effectively pin-point areas where resources are threatened help impartially distribute incentives.


IT Application for City Management through GPS

Global Positioning System was primarily developed as a Navigation System by US Department of Defense in the early 70's. The navigation satellite Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System (Navastar GPS) is an all together precise satellite positioning system. GPS eliminates the cumbersome process of measuring distances and angles. It directly gives the co-ordinates. GPS technology came into effective use in 1980s and has emerged as a reliable and cost-effective ground survey technology.

It is no exaggeration to say that GPS has revolutionized the field of surveying and mapping. Its applications are wide ranging. GPS is used in surveying and geodesy, transportation and communication, marine applications, aerial photography, navigation, space applications, mountaineering, military applications etc. The Geodetic Survey Division in Canada has established Active Control System (ACS) to provide precise positioning capability for the Canadian surveying and geo physical community. With the help of ACS various users can determine positions anywhere in Canada precisely. There are several companies manufacturing GPS like ASHTECH, WILD Magellan, Sokkia, Topcon, Spectra, TOPCON and Trimble.

In Indian conditions the reference system adopted by Survey of India is not available for general use. As a result, the co-ordinates observed through GPS are not compatible with that of Survey of India. For practical purposes it would be possible to determine coordinates on some other reference system and use them for computing relatively accurate distances between points. Differential GPS can be used in real time, which involves transmission of corrections on line. This is useful for aircraft landing, patrolling vehicles and troops, harbor etc. Otherwise corrections can be applied after observations through post processing in which accuracy are better.

Height accuracy is generally 3 to 4 times worse than position accuracy. Russia has also developed their own system called GLONASS, which is also gradually coming into use.

The needs for town mapping on large scale like 1:1000 has become necessary to deal with various operations particularly Facilities Management (FM). Planimetric accuracy for (FM) in urban areas has to be in the order of 25 cm., whereas, heights have to be more accurate. This requires accurate Planimetric and height control framework. GPS is the ideal approaches to provide such control.

GPS has emerged as a revolutionary tool in land surveying and navigation. There are several advantages compared to the traditional system. There is no need for inter-visibility between points on the ground and GPS can operate day & night with high accuracy levels. GPS has a wide range of application.


Impact of IT.

Information age is going to reduce the importance of mass media, firms, brokers, cities, regions and so on. Over-reliance on information will lead to a process of do or dies e.g. demassification, decentralization, despatialization, disintermediation and desegregation (Innis 1991) This will result in a society of entrepreneurs. Information technology, infoenthusiatis predict will not only stop but also will reverse the process of rural urban migration, which started with industrial revolution. Impacts of IT are discussed under three heads a) Spatial effects, b) Economics effects, c) Social effects.


Spatial Effects.

Information technology facilitates speedy access to information and raises productivity. The new mode of spatial organization of production, corresponding to emerging regime of accumulation, results from a complex interrelationship between technological changes and over all tendencies in the organization of production, the social division of labour, and its corresponding institutional structure, as well as with existing spatial forms interrelated from previous regimes. High technologies, in a particular computerized system have the capacity to transform economic operations drastically in order to raise performance and productivity of activities. In spatial terms, two main impacts of an open economy arising from global technological change can be identified, namely change in urban land use and locational behavioural change.

Strengthening of international economy is likely to generate polarization effects across the world. Economic power tends to concentrate increasingly in some world cities, which are in a position to control the process of business dealings and other specialized and high value added products. The outcome of this process will certainly affect urban land use. Intensive IT usage is likely to bring about both decentralization and centralizing effects. Innovative IT application has a centralizing effect in metropolitan centre with established industries in a marketing network closely linked with other cities of comparable status. At the same time, such a metropolitan centre occupying a position in the upper echelon of urban hierarchy where, at a later stage, installation cost drops and demand for utility goes up. Translating this centralizing effect in spatial terms, a further intensification of land use is anticipated to occur in a central business district, a natural response to inflated land price in the city core. The process of deindustrialization is occurring more in terms of demographic redistribution rather than economic. Therefore, investment in peripheral areas is to be sped up by usage of computer based telecommunication.

New information technology has generated new productive areas changing locational behaviour by nullifying the importance of spatial contiguity. Globalization has torn down international barrier and has transformed national economics linked to global network. There is a substantial reduction in transport cost which now make up a smaller proportion of over all production cost. Instead proximity to a pool of technical and scientific exercise and labor has become more crucial than factors stressed by classical economists and geographers. The production process is global, linked by hierarchical decision of labour across space in a linear form from city region to another.


Economic Effect

With change in technology, not only the nature of work changed, but also changed the nature of firms. The transnational enterprise is a clear demonstration of how tomorrow's firm has decentralized and distributed itself around the globe: how it has become the virtual enterprise -project based and networked around global information system. Electronic delivery of information product has brought down the transaction cost of production in the global market. Newly emerged firm will succeed in a society, which stresses the importance of property rights, rules and laws and judicial system. So that individual enterprises can be helped to help themselves.

It is impossible to differentiate between productive and non-productive economic activity. Despite this controversy, the usage of IT is clearly part of knowledge built up and accumulation process conducive to productivity growth. The public goods characteristic of IT further support this growth by their widespread consumption in both private firms and public organization through an intensive sales and promotion network. Rising cost in terms of labor rental and land are likely to force the manufacturing sector, except in a few highly competitive industries, to relocate to other areas with cheaper land and labor supplies.


Social effect

Flexitime and flexispace will more acceptable to employers and consequently, workforce attachment and community pattern will be adjusted to avoid peak hours. This will appeal to workers as well, particularly the womenfolk. The main reason for some women for not participating in workforce are, no job nearer to place of residence, lack of part time job and flexible working hours, etc. Hence there is much scope to have female participation in the current tight job market, if more skill training, and childcare support are provided. Working at home will have disadvantages of interaction and potential reduction in productivity. But the advantage is that employers will benefit from saving office space and cutting down the operating cost thereby. Impact on housing is also inevitable. Larger apartment for interaction between staff will become essential. This will make working in the office obligatory. In a home office the only IT manager is a person who wants to spend time working with tools, not on them. When tools fail, home workers have to provide peer support,. In attempting to replace the outmoded ways of doing things, new technology will also displace work task. The shift will be from group centre to individual centre. For example, desktop will combine the work of authors, editors, proofreaders, designers, typist and printers.

IT revolution will have far- reaching social effect subject to rate of value change. It will eliminate distance factor. But its dehumanization effect can also be anticipated. There will be an attitude of aggressive competition from both firms and employees and a phenomenon of extreme individualism leading to loose moral standards in professional relationships. The merciless drive to work and innovation will result in a kind of social and psychological stress affecting individual's life after work hours. Problems will often be associated with family disruption and other social ills.

With flexitime and flexispace, a section of the society that previously felt their future secure can see it slipping away. IT managers are going to deal with disgruntled losers who organize attacks against their computer infrastructure and their business. With so many people dependent on crime for their livelihood, real world crime will find its counterpart in cyberspace. Threatening, blackmail will appear. And it is no use looking to police for help with this. Security will be the job of IT managers in association with the police.

Satellite imagery which is an important remote sensing tool, with the help of advanced IT technique can be used to evaluate the effect of cyclone in terms of the extent, severity, damage to the property and population in the coastal region.

Thus there is no denying the fact that the application if IT plays an important role in the planning process in general and urban planning in particular.



"A consistent pattern in our response to new technologies is, we simultaneously over estimate the short term impact and underestimate its long term impact. And the reason is simple: technologies diffuse through society with remarkable slowness", says Paul Saffo, a director at the institute for the Future, Mento Park, California. Saffo's statement sums up our basic problem and it's cause in the areas of use of IT in planning and Architecture. He also subtly suggests that one should be reasonably patient when dealing with new technologies. Initially a few things may not work in exactly the manner they are expected to but these are just teething problems and should be accommodated in the plan of action. A very pragmatic in this direction would be to use conventional and new technologies simultaneously, initially. Computers and IT can be used for support only and as one become more conversant with the technology, one may gradually shift to fully automated computerized processes.

We suggest that the sustainable development paradigm - especially its sustainable urban development offshoot -to be workable in today's highly complex society and its economy, must rely on very sophisticated institutions and practices of self regulation. These institutions and practices to be efficient and equitable must rely on sophisticated information and telecommunication infrastructure.

Equally, we suggest for the communicative model of urban planning, first to be even practicable at all and second to be efficiency and equitable, must also rely on a highly developed network of information and telecommunication.

In both cases, the information flows are crucial not only between the government and the people and between the various departments of the government and between the various groups of people, but especially between the environment and the government and the people. It is the Human-Nature communication link that does not work properly as before (when we all lived in villages and small, low-tech towns and were much more exposed to the environmental processes) and now needs positive amplification by artificial means (IT, Media)

The paper conclude by suggesting that 'intelligent design' is a key feature of the institutional design for all three components of the urban management system:

 The only way to implement the concept of intelligent design into the urban management system is via extensive development of IT. In India today this is both technically feasible and economically justifiable. It is also the only ethically responsible path with regards with regards to the health of our population and the well being of our future generations.





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