Using a fleet of drones, India plans to map 75% of the country by 2021. Image: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Explore and monitor how Fourth Industrial Revolution is affecting economies, industries and global issues
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:
Fourth Industrial Revolution
How do you map one of the largest countries in the world? One drone at a time, perhaps. That’s exactly what the Indian government is doing, with the Survey of India (SoI) using a fleet of drones to map the country in incredible detail.
One of the first areas being surveyed is the Ganges river basin, which is being mapped with an accuracy of 10 cm, according to Professor Ashutosh Sharma of India’s Department of Science & Technology.
“The basis for everything”
A fleet of 300 drones is being gathered to capture aerial footage, which will be combined with other data sources and then converted into highly detailed maps using artificial intelligence.
“Even today we don't have a digital map of India of sufficient accuracy,” Professor Sharma told the Times of India. “But this is [going to be] the basis for everything... whether we have to lay down train tracks, lay a road, put up a hospital ... or any kind of development and planning.”
What is the World Economic Forum doing about drones?
The new maps will have a scale of 1:500, meaning 1 cm will represent 5 metres on the ground. Mapping remote towns and villages in this detail will give local authorities accurate data relating to land ownership. In some cases, it is believed this will enable citizens to have verified land-ownership claims leading to the issuance of property titles for the first time.
Between now and 2021, the Indian project – which also brings together data from multiple sources – will map 75% of the country. The initial focus areas will be those that are populated – regions that are mostly forest or desert, for example, may be excluded from the exercise.
Highly detailed and digital maps can help countries and communities around the world to pinpoint problems, find solutions and protect their future.
They can provide crucial information to aid groups in disaster zones, such as during the rescue effort in the aftermath of the huge earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015; help to protect the world’s forests and determine who’s responsible for areas of land to tackle illegal mining, logging and forest fires; and could even be used to help predict and prevent floods.
What is the World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit 2019?
The United Nations Development Programme has said it will use digital technologies to transform the way it tackles issues such as poverty and climate change.
It is also using drones to create 3D maps of the Maldives – a country extremely vulnerable to the risks of climate change.
Don't miss any update on this topic
Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.
License and Republishing
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
More on Fourth Industrial RevolutionSee all
Bart Valkhof and Omar Adi
February 16, 2024
Anna Maria Collard
February 12, 2024
February 8, 2024
February 6, 2024
January 31, 2024
January 31, 2024