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District Information and Planning System (DIPS)


Dr. Megha Phansalkar
Urban and Regional Planner Micro Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai
drmegha@hotmail.com


Abstract
Human response to natural resources is affected by the social-economic structure of the communities concerned . The problems related to conservation and rational utilization of resources should be examined in this light . District forms an important unit of study . District level planning is an area-based study aimed at supplementing the national and state plans. It implies evolving a developmental scenario consistent with the specific needs of the people, the growth potentials of the area and the budgetary allocations available. The task is of bringing about an effective functional linkage and coordination among various agencies for optimum resource utilization. To be effective , comprehensive studies of individual resources and evaluation must be correlated , analyzed and integrated by developmental agencies .

Computer has the capability of integrating the data from various sources, spatial and non-spatial . It can play an important role in evolving alternate scenarios for resource development and management . We have abundance of data with the district agencies . However, not much of this data is properly analyzed and effectively used for plan formulation and implementation. An integrated system is required where all the data is stored in a uniform format of all the departments and used for regular monitoring of projects , analysis and other district planning exercises . The study aimed to design a computer package for resource analysis and management taking case study of a district . It is a GIS (Geographical Information System) based application using primary /secondary and tabular / spatial data . The potential of computer model for strengthening the district planning process has been turned into reality by DIPS. It incorporates all the planning exercises required to be done by the district agencies / departments / research scholars . DIPS has three tier planning levels viz.. village/ block and district . The package can be used for any district of the country . DIPS captures data from all sources and then analyses and plans in an efficient and simple manner . The output is in textual and graphical formats . DIPS bridges the gap between planners and computer professionals.

Background
Development planning is a process by which we try to achieve our objectives with the limited resource available to us . This means that we must select our objectives and set priorities in a rational manner . The planning process is, therefore , a process of decision making about rational choices . Although ideally we should try to use resources in the best possible way to achieve our objectives , in practice we rarely do that especially at local level.

At the local level our objective are concerned more with the problems people face in meeting needs. The identification of these problems and the resources that could be utilized to solve those problems is critical to any planner . To answer the numerous questions the planner needs information/ data . The availability of data at the district and at the village level from different sources has increased beyond imaginable proportions . But the questions is are we using the data in a meaningful way ? It is also obvious that we need to use different methods to analyse the data , apart from this the district planning now demand spatial perspective in view of fact that both the social and ecological commitments are to be taken into account . To make the task possible we need a information system with user friendly interface which can be used for data analysis by planner and other users . The success of planning process depends on the quality and quantity of the information available . It is therefore essential at this stage to device ways and means of organizing information , which can facilitate full exploitation of the relevant data to provide required information in a timely fashion . The information system which facilitates systematic handling of data in derived formats can play an important role in evolving alternative scenarios for natural resource development and management . Information flows from lower levels to higher levels , but often there is information overload , also the it is not utilize the way it needs to be , since the data is in pieces and not integrated. The success of integration depends on the quality and quantity of the information available . Although the current system of collecting the information has the advantage of being a vast and elaborate network , it suffers from the limitations like :
  • Multiplicity of agencies generating similar but incompatible data sets in different format from the view point of accuracy, resolution and methodology. Thus making it difficult to match and inter relate.
  • Lack of regular procedure for updating the data periodically
  • The methods of data storage not amenable to efficient and flexible retrieval of information .
This results in non-availability of relevant information in a friendly planner to the planners or decision makers . On the whole the district computerization has enabled the information base to be significantly enlarged. The available data can be made easily accessible and operational at the planning stage, by the use of this system.

DIPS is a computer package which captures data and then helps user to analyze and the resources of the village / block / district in an efficient but simple manner. It Analyses the present distribution and utilization pattern of resources and suggests plan for optimum utilization in future. DIPS provides information in both textual and graphical formats and generates reports as per desire. Query system helps the user to retrieve data as per their requirements .

Objectives
With a view to support various decision makers involved in decentralised planning the tasks envisaged to be carried out are as given:
  • Utilize computer as a tool to design computerised integrate data base using spatial and non-spatial data from both primary and secondary sources .
  • Suggest methodologies for assessing resource utilisation pattern , potentialities and plan for their optimum utilisation
  • Identify the target groups, stress areas and integrated projects that are relevant to the requirement of the people
  • Prepare a computer package which is user friendly , is replicable and can be used for any other district for decentralised planning
Approach
The objectives to be fulfilled while planning for a district are very varied . The development of the society , with the uplift of the weaker sections has to be balanced . The study while suggesting the methodology for district planning has stressed on the unit of study and approaches to be incorporated .

Spatial Approach for the study of resources in terms of its utilization pattern, and planning for its optimum utilization with graphical and spatial tools. Sector approach for all major sectors like education, health, agriculture, industry etc. Basic minimum need approach for identification of living standards of the people . Target group approach for the weaker sections in the target area and lead sector approach to evolve an integrated development strategy for development of the local resources .The planning unit has been village / block and district .

Methodology
District resource planning is an elaborate exercise , it has to take into account the individual resource as well as the interconnectivity prevailing . It is a continuos and cyclic process that turns backing itself as a planning cycle . The different stage incorporated in the study are situation analysis which analyses the resource its utilisation pattern and comes up with optimum utilisation plans . The development analysis includes a trend analysis of the district development process , as well identification of problem are and priorities for planning based on primary surveys . Th last plan programming phase evaluated the methods adopted for financial allocation between the Programmes and also suggests methodologies for program evaluation . Each phase has its own operations and outputs as detailed in Table no 1. The main tasks were A). Analysing the distribution and utilization pattern of natural/human/financial resources and suggests plan for utilization in consideration with the requirements of the people. B). Identifying target groups, stress areas and integrated project that are relevant to the local resources and requirement of the people at village /block and district levels. C). Evaluating the project implimentation in terms of its efficiency / adequacy/ requirements etc .

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