On Monday Evening, Agendra Kumar, Managing Director of Esri India sat down with the TechGraph editorial team for a wide-ranging interview. We discussed Esri India’s journey, the impact of gaps in location mapping, and much more.
Read the complete interview:
TechGraph: Could you help explain how far Esri India has come since its inception? From when it began to where it is now?
Agendra Kumar: The adoption of GIS started gaining momentum in India in the 1990s. As both the public and private sectors started embracing the use of GIS in diverse areas, Esri India became a key enabler.
Rooted in purpose and service, since 1996, Esri India has been relentlessly carrying forward Esri’s essence of “The Science of Where,” helping customers overcome some of the most difficult challenges and make an impact.
It has been a wonderful journey of more than two decades of supporting various government organizations, businesses, NGOs, and educational institutes in the country.
Currently, we have over 6 lakh users of Esri technology in India. Many powerful solutions have been deployed across more than 6000 organizations to address the challenges that we face as a country. For instance, solutions for tackling the issues of deforestation, water scarcity, climate change, healthcare, urbanization, disaster management, etc.
Some of these solution products are part of Indo ArcGIS, which is a unique offering developed by Esri India’s engineers. Some of the leading telecommunication companies are also using ArcGIS technology.
TechGraph: How is Esri India utilizing its sectoral expertise and technology to solve the unsolved location mapping gap?
Agendra Kumar: Solving real-world problems with customized GIS solutions has picked up the pace. In tandem with this, Esri India has launched Indo ArcGIS to address the need for ready-to-use GIS-based solutions and geospatial content for GIS users in India.
Powered by ArcGIS technology, the world’s leading mapping and analytics system, Indo ArcGIS includes 130+ solution products in the areas of forest management, disaster management, electrical utilities, land records and property tax management, and more. These solutions can easily be deployed by ArcGIS users.
Esri India is also providing more than 630 layers of data through the Indian edition of ArcGIS Living Atlas. These data layers include accurate boundaries up to the village level, PIN Code boundaries, national and state assembly constituencies, demographic data, data about soil, natural resources, weather, and commonly used Points of Interest has the potential to minimize the location mapping gap. Such accurate data can help both government and private organizations make the most effective decisions using the power of location.
We also need to build a strong geospatially skilled workforce to bridge the gap. We are working with 800+ universities and colleges to help university students gain first-hand experience in using GIS technology to solve real-life problems.
The learning programs provide students with real-world industry experience in using GIS software and learning best practices. The recently announced M.Tech Scholarships are one among many of our efforts to encourage geospatial thinking.
Esri also helps early-stage startups to build mapping technology and location intelligence into their products, thus helping them play an important role in “solving the unsolved location mapping gap.”
TechGraph: What is the state of geospatial platforms in the Indian market?
Agendra Kumar: Government interventions through strategic policy announcements are proving to be a big game changer for the geospatial industry. These guidelines have removed a lot of restrictions that were there on geospatial data collection, creation, storage, and dissemination. Such changes are encouraging the industry to come up with innovative solutions that could help different sectors solve varied challenges.
Esri India has always been at the forefront of technological innovations. We have a strong focus on providing more solutions like Indo ArcGIS to our customers so that they don’t have to spend time building those customized applications.
They have something ready-made which they can start using from day 1 and achieve 80-90% of the requirements without any need for coding. We are continuously innovating to promote the use of geospatial technologies in government and private organizations for more informed decision-making.
ArcGIS also powers Geo-Hubs, which are getting extensively used for disaster management, city management, healthcare management, and more.
Geo-hubs are bringing communities together, helping stakeholders to connect and share data more easily. These platforms enable quicker, more effective decisions for better management of people and resources.
The Indian geospatial economy is expected to reach Rs 63,100 crore in 2025 at an impressive growth rate of about 13-14%. Geospatial is becoming an integral part of today’s interconnected business environments, where GIS is accessing data from many sources and systems, helping in analysis and feeding data to different business systems.
Also, companies are looking at hosting their GIS infrastructure on the Cloud, so that it becomes easier for them to scale up, scale down, manage, and have better connectivity with other systems.
Also, the rapid technological developments in GIS have kept pace with the emergence of new and emerging technologies in the IT space, like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), Big Data, Digital Twin, and Web/Cloud.
In this way, GIS deployment on the Web/Cloud is now enabling organizations to build enterprise geo-platforms hosting data, applications, solution templates, and open APIs (application programming interfaces) serving a variety of users/purposes.
TechGraph: With machine learning adoption in GIS speeding up, how is Esri going to capitalize on the same?
Agendra Kumar: Esri has a lot of focus on using AI and machine learning. Some of the capabilities are built within ArcGIS. We call it GeoAI. GeoAI helps discover patterns and relationships between different kinds of datasets. Through ArcGIS, we offer ready-to-use models that work with both vector and tabular data, imagery, and text.
We also integrate many open science libraries like Python and TensorFlow in applications like auto-detection and tracking of vehicles, point cloud classification, object detection, land cover classification, feature extraction, etc. This combination of AI and spatial analysis is helping industries simulate outcomes in diverse scenarios, and it’s evolving in fascinating ways.
TechGraph: What are the new trends in the geospatial sector?
Agendra Kumar: Technology has indeed been the engine of change worldwide, and India has been the hub of many exciting technological developments in the past year.
Moving ahead, technology trends like the integration of various types of data in GIS systems, data portals to enable easy sharing of data, and Geo-Hubs to create more collaborative working environments and increase community engagement are going to transform the way geospatial technologies are being consumed.
Other trends like GeoAI, GIS on Cloud, digital twins, immersive experiences, and advanced spatial analytics will further cater to improved and secure solutions for industries and masses alike.
These tech trends will help enterprises boost their speed and agility, reduce complexity and save costs while simultaneously enabling unmatched connectivity.
The top trends that I foresee in the geospatial sector are:
• Integration of various types of data.
• Portals for Data Sharing.
• Maps-based apps.
• Advanced spatial analytics
• 3D GIS and Digital Twins
• Immersive experience
• Creating Community Engagement through GIS Hubs
• GIS and BIM Coming Together
• Data collection through drones
TechGraph: What is the roadmap for Esri India going forward?
Agendra Kumar: Esri India has always endeavored to curate industry-specific solutions to align with current business needs, helping enterprises to maximize their investments in location-based data and technology.
Our mission is to build high-value solutions that reduce the time it takes to deploy geo-enabled solutions in organizations and increase the business impact they make. We will continue to make concrete efforts in this direction, bringing more innovative solutions to the market in the coming years.
We launched Indo ArcGIS in December 2021 and are witnessing high demand for it. Indo ArcGIS will continue to fuel our growth in 2023. Another area of focus is drone data processing as drones are being used for many applications.
There is a huge potential for their use in surveying and mapping in the country. This is mainly due to programs like SVAMITVA and specialized programs for agriculture surveys, highway construction surveys, and Gati Shakti. Site Scan for ArcGIS, which is a complete cloud-based drone mapping solution, will continue to be a large growth engine for us going forward.
We also see the expansion of our cloud footprint. We have made Indo ArcGIS available on Indian Public Clouds. Organizations will now be able to procure cloud infrastructure. Indo ArcGIS Pro and Enterprise software, and managed services from Esri India, removing complexity and speeding up their enterprise GIS journey. This will also facilitate easy migration of existing on-premise geospatial infrastructure to the Cloud, fueling faster adoption and easy expansion of the Indo ArcGIS system.
We see this development as yet another opportunity for us to enhance the quality of experience we provide to our customers and drive technology adoption. Indo ArcGIS on Cloud will provide location-based insights and innovative tools such as predictive analytics, AI/ML integration, and other cutting-edge mapping tools to help organizations in realizing the power of ‘location’ in a flexible and easy-to-deploy manner and deliver increased business ROI.