GIS: Mapping the Future

By Amit Jain, CFO, Birla Sun Life Insurance


Geographical data in the past was represented only on paper maps but nowadays it is mostly stored in geographical databases. Technology is improving rapidly; technology improvement is the key to GIS development. As GIS develops and new innovations come into action there are also many challenges that are being faced. Decisions based on “Where is what?” involve spatial information which is particularly complex. This movement from “Where is what?” (descriptive) to "So what and why" (prescriptive) has set the stage for entirely new geospatial concepts and tools.

G- Commerce:

E-Commerce along with the use of GIS gives us G-Commerce. It provides businesses with the opportunity of entering new markets and making new relationships with organizations. G-commerce underpins the rapid growth of trading in Geographic information. E-Commerce demands an integrated solution for both online and off-line customers. Google Earth and Google Maps are E-Commerce promoters. Google Maps has the ability to locate and display accommodation, dining, banking services and other local businesses. The speed and image quality of Google Maps has led to its success today. G-commerce applications can be used in portable devices (Mobile phones).

Current state:

Technically, GIS is applicable in many fields, such as Utilities which include Traffic & Road Management, and Energy & Power. The other fields wherein GIS is mostly used are Urban Planning, Land Use Mapping, Natural Resource Management, Business and Retail Analysis, Defense Projects and Health Applications. These are just a few to name but GIS can be applied to numerous fields and it all depends on how it is used. GIS in American and European countries have been applied to its highest potential use right from its personal to corporate aspects. Drawing a parallel, we in India can also make the most of GIS right from the grass-root level. The use and application of GIS should not remain in the minds of just a few people but it should also reach the masses.


GIS innovation faces many challenges; data formats and inter-operability are one of the major issues in the GIS industry. The inability to share data effectively is a major impediment to the application of GIS to scientific endeavors. Different projections being used to present data is one of the biggest challenges of interoperability. Distortions of conformity, distance, direction, area and scale are also some of the other challenges. GIS is accessible to everyone using the internet, users can make use of the internet to access GIS applications without installing a complex GIS system in their personal computer. They are many challenges facing the recent and future innovations in GIS but the GIS field continuously introduces innovations and technologies that can change the world.

GIS in Insurance Industry:

Insurance business has a life cycle starting with selling policies to customers across the geography to ultimately handling claims. At each point of this life-cycle, GIS can benefit the most.

• Sales and Infra

Planning to be present in the right geographies that are under penetrated along with competition benchmarking is really helpful in forming an organizations sales strategy.

Product development strategies and internal sales tracking benefit from detailed geographic analysis combining many data sources and market assessment tools. The result is a more targeted and strategic approach to sales, infrastructure and marketing efforts.

• Manpower mapping and Recruitment

Many a times, front line sales residing at different areas are working from far-off areas. GIS can help map such anomalies and help improve productivities immensely. Recruitment from the right geographies becomes important to form a customer connect in a particular area.

• Underwriting and Claims handling

In today’s competitive market, understanding who your customers are and their proximity to hazards ensures you are offering the right products, placing the right underwriting norms and claims handling processes. 

• Customer service

Customer analytics plays a very important role in acquiring and retaining every customer. Mapping the customer can help get data on customer behavior, areas of interest etc. and service kiosks can be located based on assessment of such data. This helps to increase engagement with the customer.

Future of GIS:

The future innovations in GIS will aim at solving the weaknesses of the present geographic information systems. GIS is looking to introduce the 4D GIS and that will change the way we see the world and indoor location and the involvement of real-time situations monitoring and assessment. The development and innovation of recent and future innovations is faced by many challenges but we still see GIS entering new sectors and solving problems worldwide. The increased use and access to the internet is contributing to GIS developing and reaching new frontiers. In a time of limited resources, good quality data and good visualizations of that data are essential for decision making, as is the potential for modeling future scenarios.

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