The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) covers 43 wards and provides water supply, public transport, sewerage, stormwater drainage and other civic services. AMC, which was established in 1950, is one of the leading municipal agencies in deploying information technology (IT) solutions for improving its civic service delivery. At present, the AMC is working on a proposal to integrate geographic information system (GIS) into its work structure. The initiative, a part of its e-governance model, will enable rapid and informed decision-making to improve system efficiency.
The city of Ahmedabad is divided into six zones, making it necessary to use information and communication technology to correlate the provision of services across all the zones, in order to provide efficient services to its customers.
GIS is a computer-based tool that helps in the collection, storage, processing, analysis and electronic presentation of spatial data. The system stores information in three different layers, one each for maintenance, analysis and visualisation. The system can be applied to various categories including drainage systems, environmental and ecological data, roads, land usage and demographic information. The eventual purpose of the system is to collate geographic and other types of tabular data to generate maps and reports. This enables users to collect, manage and interpret location-based information in a planned and systematic way. Yatinder Naik, head of the IT department at AMC, explains, “GIS implementation will facilitate AMC’s administrative objectives and ease the process of undertaking topographic measurements, thus streamlining the services provided by the civic agency. GIS not only helps in making better and more informed decisions, it also increases customer satisfaction levels.”
GIS project scope
The project comes under the scope of the central government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The project is estimated to cost Rs 100 million, of which the corporation hopes to secure Rs 20 million under the JNNURM scheme. The AMC aims to create a digital base map of the entire area of the city under its operations. The map is proposed to have a record of all the properties and public utilities including drainage lines, water network, man-holes and street lights. A unique identification number will be assigned to each property as a part of the GIS mapping.
The AMC intends to integrate GIS data with the proposed e-governance system. The various services that are deemed imperative by the AMC to achieve its objective are listed below:
- Installation and maintenance of a GIS platform for the creation, storage and maintenance of GIS data as well as development and customisation of the GIS application for AMC.
- Sizing of the servers that are required for hosting GIS solutions.
- Supply, installation and maintenance of proposed servers and requisite software.
- Georeferencing and spatially adjusting the existing town planning sheets available to the AMC and creating new digital town planning sheets for the remaining physical and non-geographical references.
- Base map creation using satellite images available to the AMC.
- Creation of various layers on the base map by collecting the spatial and attribute data for various other layers required, such as sewerage, stormwater, solid waste management and public utilities.
- Testing and training.
- Annual technical support for a period of five years for the subcomponents of the project.
- Post-implementation software enhancements and customisation.
AMC’s existing network
The AMC has six zonal offices to cater to each of the zones in the city, a total of 64 ward offices and 50 civic centres. The corporation has made provision for a local area network for each of its ward offices to connect them with the central server room.
It has already secured software licences and user-level licences for the project. In another initiative, the Utility Mapping Project, AMC undertook the task of base-map creation for the entire 466 square km area under its purview, in 2007. The base maps were then issued to AMC by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The AMC also has various other software including data models provided by the NIC for all the layers in the existing GIS geodatabase and the ESRI software suite for maintaining, updating and modifying the GIS data. Further, the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority has set up GIS on a small scale and completed base-map creation.
The implementation of the system is likely to be beneficial for both, AMC and its customers. Stating the benefits of the system, Naik says, “The proposed system is likely to assist a great deal in property tax collection and fulfilling AMC’s administrative purposes. The system will help AMC gauge the population density in each area, and plan municipal services like drainage lines and water network lines accordingly.”
The system also aims to identify properties registered under the residential category but being used for commercial purposes. The process of identifying defaulters is likely to increase the amount of property tax to be collected and provide financial benefits to the civic agency.
Issues and challenges
The central government undertook the responsibility of implementing GIS in the metro cities in 2005. The NIC was appointed as a consultant for the project. The project was initiated but could not be executed effectively due to several constraints. Owing to a time gap of almost 10 years between the initiatives, AMC is no longer in a position to make use of the initially procured hardware and the software licences. Thus, it will have to outsource the same again.
Further, the lack of interest from companies has been a major setback that has delayed the project. In February 2014, the AMC issued request for proposal (RfP) documents for base-map creation, survey, supply, implementation and post-implementation support for GIS. However, only four to five companies took interest in the project and submitted their bids. As per AMC’s pre-listed criteria, only two companies met the conditions and were deemed qualified. Hence, the AMC has decided to issue the RfP again, in order to attract more companies for the project.
The way forward
The system is still not commonly used in the country. The AMC is one of the few civic agencies to take the initiative, and there is still a lot to be done. “There is huge scope for the AMC to capitalise on the project in order to improve the provision of basic civic services in the city. GIS is a step in the same direction and the AMC expects a great degree of comfort in execution and implementation of operations once the system is in place,” states Naik. The successful deployment of GIS in mapping different utilities will serve as an example for other civic agencies to streamline their operations.