Survey of Bangladesh at a X road of DIGITAL MAPPING Era

--Colonel Mahmudun Nabi, Director Defense

Mr Nobi

Most of us are not very aware about the very rich history of map. Columbus discovered America. Alexander conquered the world. British and France ruled most part of the world. Babylonians, Chinese, Greek and Egyptian civilization are well known. Mount Everest was named after sir Jorge Everest, the Surveyor General of this subcontinent. Why not to mention about those historical treasure hunting myths. All of them had one thing in common, they had better knowledge on maps than their contemporaries.

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Columbus   discovered   America 23

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 British and France ruled most part of the world                             Sir Jorge Everest

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Historical treasure  hunting myths.

Mapping did not stop right there in the history, rather it has embraced the digital  technology as good as other IT sectors. Satellite science has been incorporated. Internet has been explored where goggle earth and other map related web sites have gone favorite to the web browsers. Facilities have been drawn from modern astronomical devices like very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). Permanent GPS stations and VLBI stations all over the world has enable the humanity to monitor the risk of tectonic plate movement resulting earth quakes, volcanoes, tsunamis more accurately than ever. Advanced countries  are taking advantage of fitting in digital map data in their modern weapon system and achieving splendid results like that of drone attacks at Afghanistan and  else where.

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Satellite                                                                    GPS stations

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VLBI                                                                        Earth Quakes

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Volcanoes                                                                     Drones

In addition to the known commercial satellites, no body is sure as to how many spy satellites of the big-powers are collecting precise data of this planet from multi sensor platform. Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology can penetrate darkness unlike satellite sensor to picture the earth surface. Synthetic Aperture Rader (SAR) can penetrate the cloud cover.

Car tracking, fleet management, air, sea and land navigation, criminal tracking all needs digital map as an integral part. In the present world all kind of development activities needs digital map data for accurate, precise and cost-effective implementation.

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LIDAR                                                             Development activities

Battery operated drones  are getting favorite in mapping community for quick and cost effective output in terms of aerial photo, DEN etc. These are fitted with sensor and GPS to map a limited area and very effective for after-disaster assessment of damage where going gets tough. 3D mapping is a new flavor in mapping world for 3D visualization where one can take a tour or visit places/targets in computer from 360 degree angles as if from air, sea or land.

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Battery Operated Drone

There exists dozens of regional and global forums of digital map data exchange and compatibility based on ISO standard. These forums aims at good governance, socio-economic development, environmental protection and sustainability, and informed public participation through effective use of geographic data.

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Japan steers the committee on Global Mapping where there are 164 signatory countries including Bangladesh. Global Spatial Database Infrastructure (GSDI) is another forum where many countries and organizations are signatories.

GSDI is based on National Spatial Database Infrastructure (NSDI) of different countries and we are yet to begin the NSDI unlike our neighbors. Digital  map is the basis of NSDI and we are yet to fix the ladder on this subject although it’s an off-shoot of civil engineering. Roads, Railways, power lines, etc are the infrastructures of a country, similarly digital map  data are called Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) on which the NSDI is based on. “E Governance” is a favorite terminology in advanced world and digital map has given it with the latest advanced flavor called “ Spatially Enabled E governance” meaning things are displayed and analyzed digitally at the right places yielding right perception and right decisions.

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Geodetic Control Network

United nations Initiative on global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) is another forum  which aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for this development of global geo-spatial  in formation and to promote its use to address     key global challenges. It provides a forum to liaise and coordinate among Member States and between MemberStates and international organizations.

Survey of Bangladesh (SOB) is the only National topographic mapping agency of the country producing digital topo maps of entire country. SOB already possess 1:50,000 scale digital topo map and geodetic network including GNSS CORS entire country and 1:5,000 map of the capital Dhaka. By 2016, it will possess 1:25,000 map digital elevation model (DEM) and Ortho photo of entire country and 1:5,000 map of rest five divisional cities.

No doubt, these are precious assets of a country to drive forward in the path of precise development and prosperity. In today’s world, precise and quality mapping has become an addiction and SOB is the organization to set one standard for Bangladesh.

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Ortho photo

It is not an exaggeration that SOB today stands firmly at an international standard in terms of hardware, software and technical know how of its entire digital maps production Line-up consisting of Geodesy, Photogrammetry, GIS, Cartography and printing press.

Many a visitors from developed nations expressed their wonder to see such a standard and modern digital mapping line-up in a developing country like Bangladesh. By establishing six permanent stations (GNSS CORS) in the country, SOB has elevated Bangladesh to a new height of prestige in IT world. SOB’s vision today is too bring the entire nation at the same platform of surveying and mapping and establish national spatial database infrastructure (NSDI) where other statistical and essential datas will be superimposed on digital map data as fundamental data and information to create a national data base hub to serve all kind of data requirement with quick delivery via internet as ready reference.

There lies multiple challenges ahead to keep up the momentum and steer it forward. Budgetary constrain is a major challenges in developing nations. Foreign aid (JICA) played a vital role for the progress so far, but in near future the country has to take the budgetary responsibility to maintain and update the huge asset created so far including the sophisticated production line-up.

Immediate restructuring of SOB from analog to digital environment is essential where this kind of decision is normally decades long process in Bangladesh. It is also challenging to sustain the present technological base and remain updated with the latest trends where a visionary and knowledge based leadership is the key to all success.