Dr Mukund Kadursrinivas Rao


Dr Mukund Kadursrinivas Rao (mukund.k.rao@gmail.com) is an expert in space technology and applications – especially in Earth Observation (EO), Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and satellite communications. He has MSc Geology, MPhil in RS and GIS and PhD in RS and GIS. Dr Rao has ~35 years of unique government/industry/consulting experience in EO, GIS and space.

Dr Rao has served ISRO for 24 years and involved in shaping the Indian Remote Sensing and image applications programme and providing leadership to various national EO/GIS programmes – in village/district/state planning, urban planning and management, undertaking a unique Census of Natural Resources, establishing a nationwide-GIS and many others. He has actively worked in defining national policies for EO and for National GIS.

Later, Dr Rao has led EO/GIS industry to develop Power-GIS applications, Municipal-GIS, OneMap of Singapore, enterprise GIS for Ras-Al Khaimah and Ajman Emirates in ME, Delhi state SDI, India’s GIS metadata portal and others. He has led ESRI distribution activities in India and has worked for design of GIS/GPS with satellite communications.

Now, Dr Rao consults for Indian government entities, Indian/international industry in space technology. He has helped design and in implementation of state-, nation-wide and many large EO/GIS projects in various countries. He also undertakes space technology and policy research at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore and has research reports on National GI Policy, Space Policy and National GIS Standards at NIAS.

Dr Rao was the founding and first President of the international Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association. He has been intensely active in international EO, GIS and Space fora – international Committee of EO Satellites; International Astronautical Federation; International Academy of Astronautics; United National; International institute of Space Law and many others. Dr Rao has been honored with many awards and has almost 200+ publications to his credit.


EO SmallSats can “power” large area GIS with focus on Disaster Management


India proposes to establish National-GIS (N-GIS) – which will realise the true power of EO and GIS by embedding them “within governance” and taken to “every citizen”. Two of the 5 major elements of the N-GIS are key – one, a nation-wide GIS Asset as an organised geo-database of EO images, satellite-based positioning data, digital maps, crowd-sourced data and geo-tagged attributes – all of these referenced and seamless as a GIS database that is constantly updated/maintained and served as “authoritative” data. Second, is the N-GIS Decision Support System (DSS) applications – a suite of GIS Applications services for different ministries/departments in government that enables better and informed governance; citizens – that empowers them with geographical content; to private enterprises for commercial GIS application services and for academia for education/research activities.

As part of various developmental programmes, Governments fund, establish and maintain various types of assets and provide social benefits to citizens. There is no national-level Asset Register that can be monitored – thus same type of assets/works are taken up again and again and there is no transparent method of identifying beneficiaries.  As part of a nation-wide EO and GIS, a unique programme can be taken up to map and create a geo-spatial database of all public-funded Assets and map beneficiaries. While the GIS-based Asset register provides an inventory and helps monitoring/maintaining assets, it also helps in planning new developmental programmes/asset creation and also in planning social programmes for rightful beneficiaries. The Asset-GIS also helps in undertaking a financial analysis of allocation and ROI analysis - as it helps Government and citizens to immediately locate all Assets, their status and also identify distribution of Assets and funding status. The Assets under question total to about 200 individual Assets under 12 categories - agriculture assets, water resources assets, roads, education-assets, health assets, civic assets, communication assets, heritage assets and many others. In Karnataka, mapping and documentation of all public assets and beneficiaries of government support has already been undertaken for almost 1 Million Assets in 5 districts (later to expand to another 10 Million Assets in the state) using EO-image as a map/image base; survey grade precision GPS inventory and geo-tagged to individual Asset-MIS data – leading to a comprehensive Asset-GIS database. A GIS-based Decision Support System allows querying tools, allocation analysis, gap analysis, various MIS reports and other innovative EO-based GIS mapping services. This EO/GIS project can be serving as a “common repository” accessible to all departments and citizens – leading to a transparent process of information flow for governance, financial allocation, planning and maintaining Assets – apart from identifying gap areas in developments and also identifying social benefits.

Such an Asset-GIS can be tremendous use to Disaster Management applications – because it is assets that get immediately damaged in disasters. Thus, Disaster Management can be supported by such a nation-wide GIS. Small satellites can play a role in mapping and creating this GIS – though a constellation would be required for national coverage at high-turnaround. Image requirement is of high re-visit and immediate coverage. Positioning technology is also important.

The paper thus outlines the vision of N-GIS with specific examples of GIS Applications DSS in agriculture, water resources, city planning and administration, publicly funded project monitoring and also in disaster management - key/specific examples of EO-images and map based GIS decision support examples of governance. The paper also outlines the scope of the DMS-GIS application and describes how geo-spatial techniques – a combination of EO images+GPS survey+ GIS Applications can enable this concept.