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- Friday, May 23, 2014 - From Print Edition




WITH an estimated cost of Rs 20 million, the Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) is going to install the first-ever Geographic Information System (GIS) to preserve and monitor the walled city and its important heritage sites in a scientific manner.


The WCLA sources said the plan was ready for implementation and the WCLA had already taken all the necessary arrangements. They said this system would also be used for surveillance and monitoring through android Apps and GIS.


Sources said the machinery worth Rs 20 million had been installed while the WCLA staff was trained by the Agha Khan Foundation and Urban Unit to operate the system. Sources added the GIS would integrate hardware and software data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. The GIS will allow the WCLA to ensure effective site monitoring, which is one of the most important aspects of conservation, sources said, adding effective monitoring is necessary to ensure that the conservation goals are being met and allow timely recognition of potential threats and emergencies.


A senior official of the WCLA said the GIS would benefit the WCLA in enforcing building and zoning regulations, recognise the type of buildings, height and nature of buildings, identify land use and analysis of the environmental and social impact assessments. He added the system would help in solid waste management, its collection and disposal, monitor storm drainage system and sewerage network in the walled city. The system will help identification and rectify problems related to the industrial and commercial activities and it will also help in identification of land use in the area and its effects.


The WCLA can also introduce better management system for transportation network and facilities, monitor freight vehicles, use this system in rehabilitation of historical buildings and monuments and management of utility networks to increase the efficiency of the WCLA.


This will ultimately help the WCLA to provide better facilities to residents and improve their living standards, said Tania Qureshi, Media Manager WCLA while talking to The News. She said instant reporting of violation of building regulation or environmental codes would be identified by using the android technology linked up with the GIS. Tourist guide maps and android apps for navigation and guidance will also be introduced, she said, adding this will help the tourist to find the shortest paths and interesting routes. This system will provide a unique tool to the WCLA for site maintenance which may include scheduled cleaning or repair of signs and tourist facilities, repair of fences, application of stone preservation products and anti-graffiti treatments, said Tania, adding this system was very useful in the maintenance of large sites. The GIS-based maps and visualisations greatly assist in understanding situations and 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. The GIS provides a strong framework for managing these types of records with full transaction support and reporting tools, said a GIS expert of the WCLA.


He said the benefits of the 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 the GIS was that it allowed spatial information to be displayed in various ways, essence creating customised maps, charts and statistics rapidly enough to perform complex analyses.


A GIS is also an efficient storage medium for spatial data since digital maps take up less physical space and can be updated much more easily than paper maps, he maintained. Because of these advantages, the WCLA has decided to introduce the GIS for better urban planning, utilities management, cartography, natural resource management, commercial site selection and academic research in archaeology, Tania concluded.