Rural development is a complex blend of offering opportunities and avenues and fulfilling rural aspirations to sustain their growth. Rural development is primarily dependent on the socio-economic patterns and demography of an area. No one model fits all the rural areas, but it is about the unique legacies, demographic variation and well-planned strategies that counts in rural development.
However, there is one common thread for development of rural areas – the provision of advanced or necessary infrastructure in the rural areas to provide tools and abilities to the local population, taking control of the lives to sustain independent growth.
Rural development comes with its set of challenges, and geospatial technology have a larger role to play in the process. From the provision of electricity, water, education, health facilities, to resources to store, ship and sell the agricultural produce, everything goes into rural development and requires spatial science and techniques.
Challenges people face in rural areas
The fast-changing socio-economic conditions are one of the many reasons behind worsening rural conditions than bringing them in alignment. People in the rural areas are not even aware of their fundamental rights, let alone knowing about the level of social and economic development in the urban areas. The social imbalance is the root cause of the arising issues, and there’s a dire need for working out a solution.
Some of the many challenges revolving around the socio-economic imbalance in rural areas include:
- Lack of welfare programmes at rural levels
- Not maintaining transparency implementation of rural plans
- Lack of integrated urban and rural development planning
- No holistic and diversified view for rural planning
- Lack of individual considerations for requirements during rural planning
- Threats to the loss of rural characteristics and natural resources
- Less eGovernance services, basic infrastructure, like not having basic housing and sanitization
- Lack of commercial development and other regional disparities
- Fewer people with the right mindset about leveraging IT and GIS in the planning and implementation of a rural master plan.
- Not many attempts to identify these issues and find a solution
Role of GIS technologies in addressing the challenges
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Information Technology (IT) make use of software, computer, and data to support stakeholders of rural planning to identify and monitor political, social, patterns, market trends, use simulations, opportunities, 2D/3D visualizations, threats that wouldn’t have been possible to trace with data on tabular formats or paper.
The geospatial technologies contribute in value addition to rural planning and development, addressing the differences between rural and urban planning to enhance it. IT and GIS can be helpful for government agencies at different levels, like:
- Identifying and monitoring all rural planning requirements at micro and macro levels
- Strategizing using a holistic approach to keep away from the shortcomings of conventional planning methods
- Determining and rectifying a complex planning process
- Saving time and work maintaining the budget
- Attaining the balance in requirements or urban and rural requirements
- Boosting accuracy, efficiency, decision support, inclusiveness in rural planning
- Encouraging more collaboration of public agencies
- Increasing public involvement in planning processes, mainly developing local communities
- Fostering collaboration among government agencies
- Ensuring sustainability in the plans using different service level standards
- Adopting global standards for public, engineering, and architecture works
- Offering implementation guidelines based on international standards for planning
- Connecting, learning, and collaborating with global and national government departments
Using advanced GIS techniques and processes will allow faster and higher accurate surveys to get water, electricity, optical fibre, and gas to offer utilities and amenities for the well being of the local population. GIS technologies and geospatial surveys can be beneficial in determining the requirements and giving out information about an ideal location for health centres, colleges, schools, veterinary hospitals, vocation/training centres, etc. in the area for the upliftment and progress of the people.
Drone or UAV based remote sensing technologies are deployed to a definitive extent for estimating the amount of crop produce and requirement for pesticide and fertilizer affecting the quantum of produce. Not only this, spatial technologies can be used for estimating crop losses due to drought, pest infestation, flood and other natural calamities. It also contributes to providing information on compensation, subsidy, or insurance. Over the years, more and more spatial applications are applied to rural planning and development.
ISRO, geospatial technologies, and rural development
Geospatial data that ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) generates will be used in government planning services. There have been strong speculations that the space agency will disclose the high-resolution data gathered from its remote sensing satellites to the concerned ministries to take steps on issues related to rural planning and execution.
The data and services can be included in the planning process at the foundation levels. It will support in rural planning and development across the nation, including optimization of schools and eGovernance services.
The Chief General Manager, Space-based Information Support for Decentralized Planning (SISDP), Regional Centres and Project Director, Uday Raj told a leading media house, “ISRO and Ministry of Panchayati Raj are working on creating an ecosystem for using high-resolution thematic data for better planning.”
As per ISRO, it is for the first time that a thematic database and integrated high-resolution satellite data is made available for the development of the entire country. Bhuvan Panchayat V-3.0, the space agency’s geoportal will be used for data analytics, database visualization, model-based products and services, and generation of automatic reports. This initiative, a part of the next-level SISDP project, is believed to be useful for the gram panchayat members and other stakeholders on a larger level. All the sates will be utilizing the high-resolution satellite data to implement and excite the planning.
According to the SISDP, the observation of the earth plays a significant role in community-driven management and holds special importance concerning the decentralized planning. It says, “Observations of the Earth system constitute critical input for advance understanding towards local planning by providing information, measurements and quantifications of natural or artificial phenomena.” In the 2016-17 term, the first phase of the SISDP was completed.
Over decades, rural planning and development strategies have come a long way, and now, evolving science and technologies like GIS and remote sensing have become its crucial part.
Image credit: nrsc.gov.in