Urban Sprawl |
Fringe Area Development |
Urban Agglomeration |
Emerging Technologies |
Metropolitan Spatial Data Infrastructure Empowering Government Authorities Through Modern Spatial Tools and Techniques
Systems Manager- Technical Direction
Groupe SEC India Put. Ltd.
The city of Bangalore has been growing at an unprecedented scale during the past 15 years. Planning for a city of 6.5 million people is a major challenge for city stakeholders like the Bangalore Development Authority. With no real digital base map, till recently, planning has been carried out mostly with rudimentary hardcopy maps.
Towards the end of 2002, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) requested the help of Groupe SCE and thus the 4.6 million Euro Metropolitan Spatial Data Infrastructure Project (MSDI) was started on the 2nd of June 2003 and funded under an Indo French Protocol. The main aim was to aid the BDA in revising the Comprehensive Development Plan for 2015 by providing it with state-of-the-art hardware and software that would house a Digital Urban Spatial Repository comprising, among other themes, Bangalore’s first official base map, as well as run a tailor-made GIS. A number of urban planning tools were also developed. A year long capacity building programme was also held to enable the client to use and maintain the spatial repository once the project was completed. The project covered an area of 1500 km2, and spanned a period of 3 years.
The city of Bangalore has been growing at an unprecedented scale during the past 15 years. No longer the sleepy town that it used to be, with the winds of the IT boom beneath its wings, it has soared to such heights that it is widely acclaimed to be the Silicon Valley of India. All the internationally renowned IT companies have established a centre in Bangalore which now contributes a substantial percentage of the State of Karnataka’s revenue.
This enormous growth has not been without its share of hurdles. Planning for a city that has reached over 6.5 million, from a little over 4 million people in 1995, is no small task. With larger spending power, there has been a surge of new vehicles on Bangalore’s already congested roads. From 680000 vehicles in 1993, the current number of vehicles is over 1.8 million. The under-equipped local authorities have been doing their best to cope with the situation, but the infrastructure remains a recurring sensitive issue.
Out of a total area of 1307.3 km2, 40% has already been urbanized and the rest is under heavy pressure. In order to restrict the growth of the city, a green belt covering an area of 682 km2 has been created, giving a temporary legal limit to the unrestricted urbanisation.
Bangalore has reached the stage where it is now competing with other Indian cities (like Hyderabad and Chennai) as well as Asian cities (like Manila and Kuala Lumpur) to attract and generate domestic and international activities and investments. This can only be possible if it can ensure a high level of “urban efficiency” which stems from the absolute understanding of the current spatial issues and infrastructure requirements along with a strong capacity to anticipate the various social and economic needs and requirements of the multi-dimensional Bangalore society.
The challenge encountered today is a play-off between urban growth and the capacity of public authorities to answer it in terms of infrastructure, civic amenities and urbanisation process controls. The absence of proper planning processes and dedicated GIS tools can limit growth and prevent Bangalore from achieving the international metropolis status it desires, making it lose out to other cities which would have better development management.
Within the framework of its tasks, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) – the agency responsible for urban planning and development for the Bangalore Metropolitan Area was bound to revise the Comprehensive Development Plan for the city. It decided to make use of this opportunity to restructure the planning process by making it more flexible and people-friendly. To aid in this process, it also needed to equip itself with a comprehensive GIS and other tailor-made IT tools.
It was within this context that the 4.6 million Euro Metropolitan Spatial Data Infrastructure project (MSDI) came about on the 2nd of June 2003 and was signed between Groupe SCE and its client, the Bangalore Development Authority. This project was funded under an Indo-French Protocol signed between the French and the Indian Government. The main objectives of this project were:
Bringing together 110 experts consisting of town planners, architects, economists, demographers, sociologists, GIS & IT specialists, geographers, cartographers, infrastructure and transport specialists, the MSDI project is thus a unique “spatial data” vehicle developed for Greater Bangalore to address various issues, like the Master Plan revision, and to help create physical infrastructure through the deployment of a multidisciplinary approach. In order to make this project a success, Groupe SCE enlisted the services of the following partners. Each of them, domain experts in their fields, contributed a key skill:
- The Creation of the Digital Urban Spatial Repository which included the development of Bangalore’s first base map.
- Revision of the Comprehensive Development Plan for 2015 for Bangalore which later become known as the Revision of the Master Plan for 2015.
- In depth capacity building program for the BDA
- Development of tailor-made GIS tools for the client and provide it with high-end hardware.
|APUR: Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (the City Government of Paris)|| City level data modeling, software development, demography experts|
|IAURIF : Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme de la Région d’Ile-de-France (Institut for urban planning and development of the Paris Ile-de-France Region)|| Spot 5 visual interpretation. CORINE Landcover experts|
|Université de Sorbonne|| Training & capacity building methodology|
|Groupe Huit|| International experts in Master Plan & CDP creation|
The main challenge and principle of the MSDI project was to build a sustainable urban geographical information system through the creation, collection, organization and standardization of huge amounts of data from over 30 public and private sources into mega urban spatial database and make use of this GIS to modify and streamline the planning process thereby making it highly efficient. This spatial repository would become a common asset to the stakeholders acting as the ‘spatial memory’ of the territory.
The intertwining of scales (metropolitan, city, ward, village, parcel, building), dates, issues (urban planning versus urban management) and the vast number and variety of stakeholders make the MSDI project a showcase of GIS technology applied to a complex mega city like Bangalore.
2. Creation and Implementation of the Digital Urban Spatial Repository (DUSR)
The definition of infrastructure usually refers to hard infrastructure such as water network, roads, power line etc. but very rarely to soft infrastructure. This connotation and understanding is slowly changing, and the MSDI project recently implemented for the BDA is a good illustration of this renewed approach. By merging the necessary promotion of an information gateway to public and private actors with the revision of its Comprehensive Development Plan, this project gives the opportunity to implement a Spatial Data Infrastructure directly related to public user needs.
2.1. User Needs Assessment
A project at a scale of the city can never be successfully accomplished without a comprehensive User Needs Assessment (UNA). It was important to carry this out at two levels – one at the decision making level of the client and one internally at the level of the in-house urban planners and architects. The overriding factor was always to treat the DUSR and the GIS as a tool that would aid in the process of decision making and urban planning rather than an end in itself.
To this effect, over a month was spent with the decision makers of the BDA in order to accurately gauge their requirements and to translate those needs into tangible containers in the future data model of the spatial repository. Numerous sessions were held with the Commissioner, the Finance Member as well as at the level of the Town Planning Member and his team.
During these sessions, the challenges that the BDA faced were noted. Possible paths to solutions as well as examples of other cities around the world were put forward.
Along the same lines, it was important to understand the requirements of the in-house urban planners as well. Stemming from the needs of the BDA, the urban planners created a list of data and their sources that would need to be collected or created over the course of the project. All of this information both spatial and non-spatial would need to be stored and managed through a robust data model.
1. Data model for a geodatabase
2.2. Data Model
A well-defined data model is one of the basic pillars on which a database resides. The lack of sufficient thought in the planning of the model would have led to the incoming data being put into the wrong containers, or worse, a faulty model may not have allowed for the data to be properly classified. At the scale of the project, this would have had disastrous effects wherein data management and retrieval would have been totally inefficient. A disorganized data model would have led to the total failure of the project.
Two overriding factors were kept in mind when creating the data model for the MSDI project:
- It must be simple for easy maintenance
- The data model must allow for evolution and growth
Since the platform chosen for the GIS was ESRI’s ArcGIS®, it was decided that the spatial repository revolve around multiple personal geodatabases. This had the advantage of fulfilling both the above requirements. The MSDI project was the first GIS project of this scale that the BDA was undertaking. Therefore, the choice of using simpler personal geodatabases proved to be a better solution rather than making use of a much larger database along platforms like Oracle® that would have been an overkill and inherently more complex for the client to handle effectively.
The final set of twelve geodatabases is given below:
|Boundaries ||The local administrative limits of various stakeholders|
|Topography|| Geology, hydrography and relief information|
|Transportation ||Network of existing railway lines, roads and proposed metro|
|Landmarks ||Extensive list of well known landmarks|
|Land use ||Existing land use situation as well as proposed land use for 2015|
|Housing_land ||Buildings, development layouts, slums, urban fabrics etc|
|Socio_Economic ||Tables containing information on demographic, health, education etc.|
|Environment ||State forest limits, borewell distributions and depths|
|Utility_services ||Bangalore Water and Sewerage Board network, power lines, oil pipelines|
|Raster_Photos ||Historical maps, satellite images, DEM etc.|
|Cdp_support ||Various supporting elements for the mapping of the Existing and proposed Land use|
|Technical ||Support database containing grids and other templates||