Geospatial Lab

The IIHS Geospatial Lab does cutting edge work in understanding spatial patterns and relationships in India’s ongoing urban transformation.  The Geospatial Lab supports the Research and Practice programmes at IIHS.  It also organises learning interventions in the short term and long term training programmes.


The Geospatial Lab is currently working on an Urban Atlas for India that compares land use and land cover changes across three decades for the top 100 most populous cities of India.  The data is integrated with the socio-economic data of the Census of India and other sources.  This project has been designed to address the data gap that may exist amongst researchers and practitioners.


The Geospatial Lab is the centre for spatial research, consulting and capacity building activities at IIHS. It cuts across programmes and teams integrating spatial technology and methods such as GIS, GPS, remote sensing, spatial modeling and web services into practice and consulting and services as well as interdisciplinary research. The Lab’s activities in the IIHS ecosystem makes it immensely useful to offer both customised project design and delivery and institutional support for capacity building, training and teaching to a diverse range of learners. The Lab plans to become a national hub for geospatial sciences and technology that combines technological innovation and process expertise with interdisciplinary knowledge.


Geospatial technologies have been applied to diverse fields to assist experts and professionals in analysing various types of geospatial data and dealing with complex situations. The Lab currently focuses on five key areas: Urban Settlement and Planning, Infrastructure, Land Administration, WebGIS developments and Transportation.


Geospatial technologies are key tools in understanding, mapping, assessing and managing urbanisation at a time of rapid demographic and spatial changes in cities in India and across the world. The Lab has used geospatial solutions to measure urban growth patterns, analyse population densities and distributions, assessment of open area and parks, distribution patterns of ground water quality, mapping of slum settlements, among others. The Lab also provides GIS-based planning and development of new settlements/cities based on topographic analysis, transportation and connectivity assessments, land value distribution, as well as an assessment of environmental constraints. It provides consultancy services for all project phases from feasibility studies and master planning to developing design strategies and GIS based 3D modelling.


Land Administration
Spatial representations are key ways to manage information about land use, ownership, current activities, as well as permits, licences, rights and property information and valuations. The availability and use of spatial data via GIS technology coupled with the land administration and tenure data and other relevant information can have significant impacts for development and urban planning. The IIHS Geospatial Lab provides solutions to effectively manage such integration using GIS technology.


Urban Security
Urban security solutions play a transformational role within city management, planning and operations, supporting the sustainable growth of local economies whilst making the city a safer and more inclusive space. The Lab offers GIS-based solutions to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens, protect public assets and help security agencies prevent crime, reduce incident rates and response times, as well as manage unpredictable crisis situations such as industrial accidents or natural disasters. It can aid in incident management as well as the coordination of emergency responses by police, firefighters, medical teams and private operators.


Infrastructure Utilities
To drive economic growth, cities need to manage existing and often ageing infrastructure efficiently as well as plan for new networks smartly. To get over ineffective, paper-intensive inventories, municipal corporations can benefit from GIS-integrated IT systems. The Lab offers GIS solutions that integrate data from multiple infrastructure systems into a single data repository. Further relevant services include GIS implementation, asset management, project status monitoring, vendor management, field operations, facility location and customer profiling and analytics.


For expanding and accelerated urbanisation, a key pressure point is transport infrastructure. In response, the Lab offers services that include solutions for transportation asset management, traffic density analysis, connectivity assessment and incident mapping.



Geospatial Consulting
The Lab offers professional services in conceptualising, planning and implementing GIS applications for projects ranging from data creation to web GIS development. These can be micro-applications related to particular themes or macro-applications at the city scale.


The Lab provided consulting services to City Planning Labs, a World Bank initiative, for GIS-based data collection, integration and analysis of slums for cities in Indonesia. The project included developing a framework data collection, integration and geospatial analytics at city and slum level as well as training Indonesian government officials to implement and manage the programme.


Web GIS Development
The Lab specialises in the complete development cycle of WebGIS Information Systems starting from needs assessment through system analysis, specification development, system architecture, coding, testing and deployment.


Featured Project:
GeoDocumentation of RAY activities for Raipur and Tirupati Municipal Corporation GiZ (2015)

The Lab has been involved in developing an intuitive web-based GIS system that integrates spatial and non-spatial datasets at slum and city level for Raipur and Tirupati. The application has predefined spatial queries such as geoanalytics supported with graphs and tables, and has created pilot slum maps for four neighbourhoods in Raipur and one in Tirupati.


Research and Geoanalytics
The Lab’s integration into broader research themes and projects at IIHS implies its involvement in using spatial analysis, modelling, satellite image analysis and mapping in urban research projects within IIHS schools. Recently, these have included tracing spatial patterns of urban growth, assessing mobility and transportation networks, and analysing the impact of climate change on human settlements.


Featured Projects:
Geospatial analysis for potential locations for new capital(s) of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh
K C Sivaramakrishnan Committee, Government of India (2014)


The Lab was part of an interdisciplinary team at IIHS that analysed 14 large and medium size cities of the new Andhra Pradesh state to identify the growth patterns of the cities using satellite imagery. As part of a commission tasked to suggest locations for the new capital, the Lab created thematic maps for Infrastructure networks (gas, road and rail); Transportation (airport, seaport, road networks); Demography (population distribution); Environment (national parks, sanctuaries, forests); Climate (rainfall); Risk (cyclone, wind, flood, landslide, earthquake); Land (wasteland, scrubland, degraded forest) as well as Industrial locations.


The Lab studied the land use and land cover changes of Indian cities over the last three decades. Focusing on cities with population above 0.2 million, Landsat (30m) based classifications for High, Medium and Low built-up densities and Cartosat I were used to build a Digital Elevation Model. Analytical findings included population growth (1901-2050), land cover change (1990-2017), High-Medium-Low built up footprints, urban density and entropy.


Capacity Building 
The Geospatial lab offers a graded and incremental series of courses that can take learners from an introduction to GIS to advanced competency in methods. Geo-spatial courses are centred not just around technical instruction, but ground learners in the conceptual and practical underpinnings of GIS technology. The Lab has trained 475 learners and facilitated 21 courses since 2011. It has also conducted GIS thematic sessions for over 200 Government officials from several states in India.


Featured Project:
GIS cell development for City Development Authority
Bengaluru Development Authority (2013)
The Lab led the establishment of a GIS cell for the Bengaluru Development Authority. This included needs assessment through interviews to understand business, functioning and technical requirements; human resource assessment; technological needs assessment; and capacity development and training programs for selected officers.


GIS brings together maps, apps, data, and people to make smarter decisions and enable innovation. It is a practical way to link science with action and is used by institutes, universities, researchers, governments, industries, NGOs, and companies around the world. It enables five key areas of work: Planning & Analysis, Operations, Field data collection, Asset Management, Public engagement and Simulations.


The IIHS Geospatial Lab does cutting edge work in understanding spatial patterns and relationships in India’s ongoing urban transformation. The Geospatial Lab supports the Research and Practice programmes at IIHS. It also organises learning interventions in the short-term and long-term training programmes.


The Lab has trained more than 400 learners in the past three years in courses targeting students; officials in public agencies (urban local bodies, development authorities, public utilities, transport authorities); and private practitioners.


Amruth Kiran

Dhananjayan Mayavel

Krishna Kumar

Lokesh B S

Pooja Rao

Pratyush Tripathy

Teja Malladi