LAHORE: Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) has completed installation of the first-ever Geographic Information System (GIS), which will now help the authority to preserve and monitor over 22,000 buildings, including important heritage sites inside the walled city, in a scientific manner.
The GIS system was installed at a cost of Rs20 million, officials said, adding the project was completed in three years. They said this system will also be used for surveillance and monitoring through android Apps and GIS.
The officials said all the relevant machinery had been installed while the WCLA staff was trained by Aga Khan Foundation and Urban Unit to operate the system. They said the GIS system will integrate hardware and software data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. After completion of this system, the WCLA officials are now able to effectively monitor various sites in the city, which is one of the most important aspects of conservation, said Tanya Qureshi, a senior WCLA official. She said effective monitoring is necessary to ensure that conservation goals are being met and to allow timely recognition of potential threats and emergencies. WCLA is now enforcing building and zoning regulations with the help of this system while officials are also categorising the type, height and nature of buildings as well as identifying land use and analysing environmental and social impact assessments.
She said the system is helping in solid waste management, its collection and disposal, to monitor storm drainage system and sewerage network in the walled city. The system is also helping in identification and rectification of problems related to industrial and commercial activities.
With GIS, WCLA is planning to introduce better management system for transportation network and facilities while a special cell is constituted to monitor freight vehicles moving in the city. Tanya said the system is also being used in rehabilitation of historical buildings and monuments and management of utility networks to increase the efficiency of WCLA. She said instant reporting of violation of building regulation or environmental codes will be identified using the android technology linked up with the GIS. She said that tourist guide maps and android apps for navigation and guidance will also be introduced to facilitate tourists and citizens.
This system will provide a unique tool to WCLA for site maintenance which may include scheduled cleaning or repair of signs and tourist facilities, repair of fences, application of stone preservation products, anti-graffiti treatments, etc, said Tania, adding this system is very useful in the maintenance of large sites.
GIS-based maps and visualisations greatly assist in understanding situations and in storytelling. They are a type of language that improves communication between different teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields, organisations, and the public, she maintained. One of the WCLA’s primary responsibilities is to maintain authoritative records about the status and change of geography. GIS provides a strong framework for managing these types of records with full transaction support and reporting tools, said a GIS expert of WCLA.
He said the benefits of GIS included more accurate and accessible documentation of sites, and improved monitoring, maintenance and planning of sites. Costs include computer hardware and software, training and support, and data acquisition.
He said that an important benefit of GIS is that it allows spatial information to be displayed in various ways, in essence creating customised maps, charts and statistics, rapidly enough to perform complex analyses.