excuse, too, me if the following is inappropriate. I too am bothered about
data being used only to display and not build maps / databases.

So many (e-governance) informatics centres promising the moon at click of
mouse are delivering only GIGO duds. GIS in planning has become here
classic case of obfuscating means and ends - countrywide we have tenders
inviting bids from GIS enterprises to make city plans and these things
they are calling visions and not telling what that means in law or
otherwise. CBIS (community based info systems) - largely taken over by NGO
enterprises – mostly fabricate quick-and-dirty data to endorse, with cute
ethnic names, whatever the particular CBIS project is paying to advocate.
(somewhere on enaction is an example from narela resettlement; I have
endlessly growing list of this type of info, besides of clients aggrieved
by suchlike).

Enormous amounts of primary data that students gather is either lost in
one-off academic displays or, worse, twisted to fit these other displays,
often via consultancy rackets of the type exposed in tip-of-iceberg style
by SPA inquiry.

SPA was approached this year by MCD to do a survey of properties in walled
city – it was approached last year for survey in urban villages since our
MCD Commissioner (same who has empanelled architects to survey properties
and deposit cheques) thought MCD didn't have staff to spare for menial
survey work. There have been numerous surveys by SPA students /
departments (and others like HUDCO/HSMI) of walled city before, including
detailed ground checking for Eischer in early '80s. If they'd built a
database (they do have a GIS unit or something) instead of just producing
displays each time – maybe they'd have created a framework to which other
data could’ve been added, even connected to statutory monitoring data
requirements and thereby drawn attention to what's already part of law,
maybe statutory provisions would have got implemented or at least
ab-initio white-papers scuttled, maybe seminar and PIL discourse would
have been more informed, maybe the lost Wilson sheets (very likely to be
found in someone’s office or house) would have got digitised or at least

If skills are found in academia, so is the responsibility to ensure they
are responsibly used and also that bad quality data is spotted and not
allowed to become the basis of discourse. Technology gap raises a
competence issue, the other an integrity issue of honesty about and
respect for data – very urgently needed in view of growing propensity to
substitute data with ideas and since purely demand-driven data is
distorting planning and policy, especially with MNCs and NGOs seeming
flush with funds for its fabrication (often via our municipalities in name
of haloed decentralization, besides our academia in name of progressive
The SPA mess has only shown a glimpse of what is a widespread malaise. I
think there’s no running away from the fact that as long as skills for
data gathering are part of academia, which they must always be, academia
will have to play a key role in information systems - and technology
development must bear that in mind to, among other things, ensure academia
development keeps abreast and most jaws are not locked in permanent state
of drop about gobblyduck.

So I am glad to hear there are queries from academia. Perhaps colleges
could identify areas that are of continuing survey interest to their
students and faculty and collate data already collected to develop ideas
for structures and applications of databases. That would make the
gobblyduck barrier less intimidating. I have on databases, with manual
mapping, urban settlements data from Indore, Vijaywada, Visakhapatnam and
Delhi (all with classical as well as CBIS methods) and regional data on
census units (villages/towns in district, wards in a town/city) for
Uttranchal (for PhD work on tourism and regional development) that I’d
like to offer to any serious academic exercise. no prose strings attached!

  please excuse me if this is inappropriate to comment on.
  it is wondered if there may be any corollary to ideas of
  'community building' and 'community mapping' that are
  mentioned elsewhere (grass roots/citizen initiatives,
  also chamber-of-commerce (like) aspects for tourism)...

  it has been thought (by myself, probably others) that
  architecture students, planners/students, and citizens
  could do a lot in these areas, locally (here in the .US),
  for public information about a place can facilitate a lot
  of things, flows, networks, connections. here it is still
  the domain of 'yellow pages' for locating businesses
  by way of a huge yellow paper book given out freely
  that is bigger than a Bible (the other ubiquitous book
  of this size, though not given out publicly) and yellow
  pages are a pathway for a lot of resource based and
  other information as it migrates online. thus, it has an
  institutional character, and things organize around it.
  for instance, data may find its way into geographic
  systems for consumption- whether maps of special
  interests (parks, hotels, restaurants) in addition to
  using these for in-car GPS navigation/entertainment/
  'guides' with placemarkers (forget what their official
  name is called). in any case, there are traditional
  mapmakers, huge corporations dealing with GIS
  (geographic information systems) and tying this
  to GPS handsets, pre-loaded with geographic-
  type information, which eventually reaches the
  consumer market at some point, in some way.
  entirely limited in my view, of what is possible.

  that is, by reversal of these tools, allowing people
  to map their own environments, a decentralized
  mapping project could take place, much like a
  census, that could have many data fields which
  could range from infrastructure conditions, to
  housing conditions, zoning, street life, qualities,
  and with GPS and a laptop computer to upload
  data from, 3D (including height) could be taken
  of the space, of which the 'resolution' of the GIS
  satellites could help define certain patterns or
  zones, close enough to provide a rough first
  mapping of otherwise difficult '3 dimensional'
  environments (say, something on the 5th floor
  of a building.) things may not be here yet, in
  terms of technology to do indoor mapping yet
  zoning and city planners are using GIS/GPS
  for such purposes, and architectural students
  are the ones with the basic skillset to be able
  to carry out such projects. the scale of what is
  given below is unknown, maybe it is so hugely
  complex. yet it makes me wonder if GIS/GPS,
  in addition to a data-set (what is of value, what
  is to be mapped, what is missed, what are the
  questions faced in the built/natural environment,
  what disciplines may want to participate, such
  as geographers, planners, economists, others,

  it is something i've been wanting to do here
  for years. still cannot get a basic unit (GPS)
  nor GIS software, and really, it would take
  many to make a large map (with database
  of potentially infinite fields, which could be
  refined over years). these tools have yet to
  be used to 'make maps' rather than display
  them, it seems. they have huge potential
  to open up diverse ways of seeing places,
  experiencing many levels/ways of interacting.
  plus, the leverage is in the realm of content,
  the technical aspects are efficient, it would
  seem, compared to yesteryear when the
  rendering was so tied to the data, now it is
  almost automatic, it would seem, given what
  data one is to present and the best method
  for doing so (or ideas)-- visualizing the ideas
  (ala Edward Tufte). in any case, wanted to do
  this as it seems a way the community could
  be a part of a large project, help with issues
  of literacy related to technology, give a sense
  of place and community by helping make and
  define it, and increase the networking of the
  peoples and environments, creating a living
  map/cartography. again, i am unaware of the
  potential different sense of this idea, as it may
  be opposite. here, it is problematic, as no one
  is able to see a community as one thing, it is
  all divided many times over. other places, a
  community exists, but without a sense of itself
  as it is so rich yet humble. people could even
  be part of an initiative to train for this (or others)
  and receive some income, creating job skills.
  then, the data can be used by all, say for the
  tourism industry (in whatever ways are best,
  if at all), for city services, for census data if
  taken, for myriad things requiring space/place
  data for real-enough time applications. brian


NEWSLINE ANCHOR: Losing Old City without a map

Prarthana Gahilote
New Delhi, December 28:

IT'S literally a maze. That too without documentation. Despite all the
about heritage and conservation, there's no map to guide you through
According to conservation architect Ratish Nanda, ''There is no count
of the
number of buildings and roads in Old Delhi so far. A thorough
is the basic to any development there. Even though the MCD works in Old
Delhi, the results are handicapped because of lack of information.''

  brian thomas carroll: research-design-development
  architecture, education, electromagnetism

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