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22nd December, 2022 - The Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma, launched the State GIS and UAV Centre at an event held at Secretariat today. This makes the state the first in the region to have its very own GIS and UAV Centre thus bringing advance capabilities that have numerous applications to the state. In the past, the state relied mostly on the North East Space Application Centre (NESAC) for geospatial data. However, given that NESAC’s area of operation extends to the entire Northeast, it is not always possible for it to cater to the state’s immediate and large needs. Thus, the GIS and UAV Centre will enable the state to overcome these difficulties and use this technology to augment developmental planning across a range of sectors. These services can be utilised by various departments to strengthen spatial awareness and enhance planning.

Several pilots have already been conducted in the state, demonstrating the wide range of capabilities this technology can bring. All Externally Aided Projects such as the IFAD aided LAMP, World Bank funded CLLMP and JICA supported Meg-LIFE all use GIS extensively in enabling holistic planning of project activities. Maps such as Land Use Land Cover, natural resources boundary maps across more than 2360 villages, contour maps, drainage, hydrogeological data etc. provide valuable scientific inputs that enhances project outcomes when applied. Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have been used to map more than 150 landscapes at high resolution providing micro level data which is otherwise not possible with conventional satellite mapping. Recently, this application was leveraged by the state to quickly and accurately map disaster areas caused by the heavy torrential rains and flash floods in Garo hills, to document cultural landscapes of Living Root Bridges in the state’s bid for UNESCO World Heritage Site. For the first time, UAVs were used to deliver medical aid to remote areas and to disperse seeds over difficult terrain at a very cost-effective rate.

The Chief Minister stated that these capabilities can also be applied to tackle a number of other issues such as traffic management, law and order, mapping of critical infrastructures, water bodies, forests etc. adding that analytical ability of the technology will generate helpful insight for planning.

Another area which this centre will fulfil is in building skilled human resources that are future ready. Currently, there is high demand for skilled GIS and UAV resources. This Centre, which is housed under MBDA has already begun an apprenticeship program to train GIS personnel and UAV experts and pilots to make them job ready. This program provides intensive on the job learning in the real world and has already proven to be quite successful, with 23 Apprentices trained to date. These have now moved on to fill various requirements both within MBDA and outside.

The state is also in the process of setting up the two Remote Pilot Training Organization (RPTO) which will be the first in the state, to enable the training and certification of Drone pilots to obtain Drone Pilot’s license. Given the demand, this will enable a number of local youth to be certified and generate employment in this field.

Lastly, by bringing all these capabilities under a single Centre, this will enable it to integrated various data from various sources into a common digital platform so that there is better interoperability, coordination and even enable decision support system that are based on sound data.

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