What’s the smartest rescue act while trying to navigate an unfamiliar route? Or when stuck in a traffic jam? A smartphone mobile user will tap “Google map” to get traffic updates, navigation to reach the destination hassle-free. Be it locating street addresses or cabs for your travel, geoinformatic technology helps you take spatially-enabled decisions. The National Geographic Society defines Geographical Information System (GIS) as “a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.” GIS is now frequently used by environmental and urban planners, marketing researchers, retail site analysts, water resource specialists, and other professionals.
What is Geoinformatics?
Geoinformatics deals with the study of earth and its allied informatics. It deals with spatial information - the digital connection between location, people and activities. This information can graphically illustrate what is happening (where, how and why) to show the insight and impact of the past, the present and the (likely) future. And it ends with a map that a common man can easily understand and interpret.
The use of Geoinformatics helps to tackle the problems related to Geography, Geoscience and related branches of Engineering. There are many geospatial softwares like ArcGIS, ENVI, Micro Station and other opensource softwares that help in GIS analysis. “The knowledge about GIS, remote sensing, geomatics softwares such as ERDAS Imagine, Arc GIS has come handy,” says Prashant Jain, a B.Tech (Geoinformatics) graduate from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), now a GIS Executive with ILFS Environment.
Application of GIS
GIS application involves use of geography, mapping, aerial and satellite imaging, surveying and database design.
Analyst, RMS Risk
Geoinformatics is expanding at a very rapid pace as a lot of industries are now employing and integrating spatial data to manage their activities. It has a wide-range of applications in environment monitoring, climate related studies and location intelligence
"Increasing use of geospatial data has created a huge demand for skilled professionals and this has resulted in more and more students opting for B.Tech in Geoinformatics,” informs Dr. D. K Gupta, Head of Department, Petroleum Engineering, UPES. Its usage solves real world problems such as disaster management, natural resource management, smart urbanization, wild life management and biodiversity assessment. The area of study has become so popular that 70 percent of Indian universities offer courses in Geoinformatics or Remote Sensing.
Are you eligible?
Those who have studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at 10+2 can apply for B.Tech/BE or BSc degree at top institutes like IIT Kanpur UPES, Amity University, Institute of Remote Sensing, Andhra University College of Engineering. Most institutes that offer B.Tech select through JEE scores and others through merit (minimum 60 percent marks) or institute-specific entrance examinations.
Programme: B.Tech/BSc in Geoinformatics
Job profiles: GIS Engineer, Geographic Information System Specialist, GPS & GIS Software Developer, Remote Sensing Expert
Top institutes: Institute of Remote Sensing, Symbiosis Institute of Geoinformatics, Amity Institute of Geoinformatics & Remote Sensing, UPES, IITs
Top recruiters: Google, RMS, TCS, RIL, ESRI, L&T Infotech
Salary: Rs. 3 to 5 lakhs per annum for freshers
What do you learn?
Three-year BSc Geoinformatics deals only with the scientific study of geospatial technology, whereas four-year BE/B.Tech deals with the laws, modeling and advancements in the field of geospatial technology. “We encourage BE students to collect geospatial facts from various platform that create user oriented real world applications,” says, Dr. S.S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Institute of Remote Sensing, Anna University. Students collect, interpret, map, analyze and present information about the physical environment.
There are many geoportals like ISRO’s Bhuvan website, NASA’s Earth explorer website and many state agencies that upload geospatial data on their servers, which when processed, gives fruitful results. Students are taught to process these data and make them understand basic GIS concepts. For instance, Geoinformatics students download a Landsat image of a study area and calculate Normalized Difference Vegetation Index to find vegetation.
Students are encouraged to collect information on flooded area from satellite images, landslide-prone areas, least cost path for road planning and buffer analysis for best site selection.
“Master level degree provides advanced skills necessary for core jobs. It is crucial to know cutting edge research and latest technology,” says Dr. Neeti from TERI University. MSc provides application-oriented opportunities in R&D field. ME/M.Tech opens door for teaching, application processing, development of software tools and product.
Kiran Choudhary, an MSc GIS student at BIT Mesra explains the relevance of the field to topical issues, saying, “We can easily relate the subject to digital world, from video, web development to phone apps. GIS career sensitizes issues relating to health, zoning, services, greenways, crime and traffic.”
Many institutes actively engage in study tours and projects. Kiran’s class was taken to Shillong at North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) to show how scientists develop GIS.
Companies like Google, Apple; international organizations like NASA, World Bank, UNESCO, and NGOs that work on disaster management regularly hire Geoinformatics engineers. ISRO, SOI, IIRS, urban planning bodies, Research & Development labs are the other hires. Environmental agencies, national survey and mapping organizations, mineral exploration and utility companies, emergency services and public health companies are also potential employers. “A graduate can work in specialized fields like remote sensing, GIS, forestry, agriculture, urban planning, environmental geosciences, watershed modeling and water pollution,” says Dr. A.P Krishna, Head, Department of Remote Sensing, BIT Mesra. The job profiles include GIS Engineer, GIS Trainee, GIS Specialist and GIS Consultants.
The salary packages are in the range of Rs. 3 to 5 lakhs per annum for a fresher. The packages vary widely depending on the location and experience of candidates. At UPES’ placements, the average starting salary was Rs. 3.25 lakh per annum to a maximum of Rs. 6 lakh offered by Wipro.
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