International Journal of Applied Science and Technology

ISSN 2221-0997 (Print), 2221-1004 (Online) 10.30845/ijast

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) For Spatial Planning and Environmental Management in India: Critical Considerations
Martin J. Bunch, T. Vasantha Kumaran, R. Joseph

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computer-based tools used to collect, store, manipulate and display spatially-referenced information. They are used to support decision-making in a wide variety of contexts, including spatial planning and environmental management. Because the process of GIS production, from software development to visualization of GIS output, is characterized by political, economic and social motivations, it is important that GIS practitioners are aware of issues such as access to data and the political economy of information, and the nature of GIS epistemologies vis-à-vis multiple coexisting perceptions of reality. Lack of such appreciation can lead to social and spatial marginalization of communities. Use of GIS in a research program for environmental management of the Cooum River in Chennai, and in support of participatory processes for managing environment and health in slums are used to demonstrate appropriate applications of GIS in India. Internet-distributed GIS as a potential avenue to address issues of public access to data is also considered.

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