Kochi to have an embedded GIS map soon

The first such plan for the Kochi Corporation area, developed using GIS software, will map existing buildings, land use and utilities, and help prepare development proposals.

Kochi to have an embedded GIS map soon
Kochi to have an embedded GIS map soon

Kochi to have an embedded GIS map soon

A user-friendly Geographic Information System-based master plan is in the offing for the city. The first such plan for the Kochi Corporation area, developed using GIS software, will map existing buildings, land use and utilities, and help prepare development proposals.

The map is being designed to make it accessible on mobile phones. “Using the map, property buyers within the corporation limits should be able to enter the survey number into their phones and find out whether the land they are buying falls in the residential, commercial or industrial zone, cutting down visits to offices to look for such information,” said J. Jayakumar, Senior Town Planner, Department of Town and Country Planning.

The ₹70-lakh project is being implemented by the department under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Master plans are to be prepared for all the nine AMRUT cities in the State in accordance with the mission’s objectives.

The last sanctioned structural map for the city is from 1991. Another master plan was completed in 2015 for the Kochi region but has not been sanctioned by the government yet, and it does not include now relevant details like the metro and associated development, Mr. Jayakumar said.

Maps that are available in most cities were earlier prepared on a 1:50,000 scale. A small error of a millimetre while reading or preparing the map could mean very drastic changes on the ground.

A GIS-based map could avoid such errors of scale and is nearly impossible to manipulate, Mr. Jayakumar said. Master plans must be updated every five years, but this was rarely done since the hard copies were difficult to update. Updation will also be easier with the software-based system.

As part of the mapping process, satellite imagery from 2016 for 98 sq km of the city area was obtained from the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC). The aerial photographs cover roads, waterbodies, buildings, bridges, railway networks, drains, trees, electric poles, and even streetlights.

Ground-truthing to vet satellite data and correlate it with ground reality was recently completed, and the data is being updated based on ground-level studies. This will be followed by a spatial analysis of the data and preparation of development proposals, including suggestions like road widening.

Underground utilities were also to be mapped, but departments like the Kerala Water Authority and Kerala State Electricity Board have incomplete maps of such utilities, making it nearly impossible to map them entirely, said another official at the Town Planning Department. The corporation will be able to use the map later to add layers and plan development projects. The project, around 50% complete, is hurtling towards its deadline.

The final plan is to be completed by March, after which funds will not be allotted for AMRUT projects, the official said. Along with GIS experts, around 70 surveyors had to be hired to complete ground-truthing since the department did not have the necessary manpower to deal with the project.

While the project requires a team larger than the seven-member one currently handling it, a shortage of funds made it difficult to hire staff, the official said.