Internet has become a competent technology for data communication due to distributing technology of the web servers. The data and maps reach to the thin clients with the minimum system requirements at user end and with the click of a button. Such technology has not only popularised the whole world but has moved scientific body to one step up. Geographers and planners, who use map and related information traditionally to plan and manage, have found Internet technology of much use since it reduces the cost of data management and information distribution to mass usages. With the advent of GIS and Internet technologies, the conventional intricacies to get solutions in time and position have been improved (Tripathy, 2000). Users can combine data and information accessed over the Intranet or Internet with the local data for display, query and analysis. In this paper, a typical example of use of GIS and Internet technology for Municipal Corporation of India has been illustrated with a typical case study where the urban planning and information system is implemented for use. There are two indigenously developed Web-GIS solutions namely PUPIS and DPIS, have been used for automating the day-to-day operations of Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC). The functioning of all the 11 departments of this corporation has been integrated into a single system using above two solutions.
As of now in India, very few GIS organisations are proud to have implemented such system for Municipal solutions that addresses holistic approaches to solve bunch of Municipal issues based on a client - server architecture. All the three basic modules under this system, Data Entry, Reporting, GIS - based Query, can be accessed from the remote client machines located in corporations’ ward offices using a browser. The only perquisites being that the terminal nodes (Ward Offices) are connected to the server (Head Office) via Internet or Intranet. Data Entry screens are used for entering data related to the various entities related to functional requirements of all the departments. Reports (maintenance) are generated periodically for each department using the report generation facility provided within the system. These reports provide department-wise consolidated information regarding a particular entity for a given period. GIS based query is the most important module of this system since the visualisation of data and maps are the main criteria for planning and decision-making. All in all the system helps to maintain, manage, plan and analyse geographically referenced data on public utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity) and development planning (town planning, roads and building, estate and land acquisition, accounts, fire, health and sanitation, property taxation, encroachment, garden).
Web-GIS Based Urban Planning and Information System
Since the inception of Internet technology, a substantial growth has been registered world wide in the use of this technology. More benefits are likely to come due to improved cost in distributed computing in various application domains that reaches to mass usages. GIS products can be easily distributed to every desktop in an organisation (through the Web server) and to the general public through World Wide Web communications. Due to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and reduced cost, Internet GIS (Web-GIS) is gaining more popularity in the GIS users’ choice. User has a choice for any-time any-where access to the geography related information. Distributed computing is a generic term that includes other terms like Internet, Intranet, Extranet, the Web, net-work-centric, and more. The popularity in the use of web-GIS will be multi-folded if the GIS software is mature enough to take into account the points such as, data interoperability between various spatial data formats (Shp, Tab, Dwg, Dgn, Sdf), data warehouse like Oracle8i, easy access and ease of use, network architecture, flexibility to customisation and close integration with standard Web development tools (ESRI, 2000). As hardware manufacturers and technologies change over time and some manufacturers provide better functionality, performance, or communication capabilities as time evolves, the end user should look for the GIS software that supports multiple platforms. It should continue to support a wide variety of hardware platforms and to take full advantage of improvements in hardware, communications, networking, and database functionality, as they become available. Urban Planning and Information System is a web-GIS based application system for the town planners, bureaucrats, corporators and commissioners that is used to automate the day-to-day functioning of all departments and ward offices of Municipal Corporation. Sitting on his desktop and through the browser any authorised user of corporation will be able to get a visual display of all day-to-day queries, maps and maintenance reports.
Fig.1: Multi-tier Architecture of Web-GIS based Urban Planning and Information System
While designing any web-GIS system or solution with the help of client’s requirement, the salient factors those are important to be included are:- functional module, graphic user interface, downloading time, system performance and the cost of the solution. The system must be portable and expandable to accommodate the future changes in hardware, software and networking (Jere, 2000). Keeping in view these factors, the designing of the system has been done using MapInfo suite of products. MapXtreme, a web-GIS product from MapInfo, provides a common platform for the exchange of Web-enabled GIS data and services. MapXtreme has a framework for distributing GIS capabilities over the Internet or Intranet (Hogan, 1999). It uses server-side technologies for data integration with RDBMS and is capable of serving to multiple clients’ request in a minimum response time. It is specifically built to serve GIS on the Internet and Intranet. Typically, the client requests information from an Internet or Intranet server. Then the server processes the request and sends the information back to the client viewer. The MapXtreme server technology has multitier architecture i.e., clients, web server, application server and data server (MapXtreme, 2000).