At a time when the Indo-Pacific region is facing increasing contestations over territorial boundaries and piracy, India’s Chief Hydrographer Vice Admiral LS Pathania on Tuesday emphasised the need to increase investment in infrastructure such as satellites, remote sensing platforms, and data centres for better geospatial awareness.

Speaking at the 14th edition of the Indo-Pacific Geo Intelligence Forum, Vice Admiral LS Pathania said, “Geospatial technology is a cornerstone for enhancing security and stability for the Indo-Pacific region, which faces significant challenges, territorial disputes, piracy, illegal fishing, and environmental degradation.”

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning hold great promise for geospatial applications, he said at the event.

“Geospatial intelligence revolutionises our understanding of sea and land. High resolution satellite imagery, accurate positioning systems, advanced depth imaging equipment sophisticated data and analysis tools allow us to produce detail maps, nautical charts, monitor coastal changes, predict sea level fluctuations with unprecedented accuracy,” Chief Hydrographer stated.

According to him, geospatial technologies, which provide a common platform for collaboration enabling countries to share data and build trust, are facing some challenges, including those related to information sharing, technological capacity, and infrastructure.

He advocated that establishing protocols and frameworks for data sharing, developing capability, and promoting partnerships between government agencies and the private sector is crucial to developing expertise in the domain. As a Hydrographer, Vice Admiral Pathania stated that he has witnessed first-hand the transformative potential of geospatial technology in enhancing maritime safety and security.

The other key speaker at the two-day Forum, Lt. Gen Rakesh Kapoor, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Information Systems and Coordination), said the Indo-Pacific is the region of hope since it is an economic powerhouse and nearly half of the world’s population resides here.

“Over 35% of global cybercrimes occur within the confines of Indo-pacific geography. Human trafficking, illegal fishing, drugs, and piracy are all on the rise in this region, leading to loss of livelihoods,” Lt Gen Kapoor stated to outline the trends in the region.

The next important global trend is the dwindling authority of the international institutions, Kapoor pointed out.

The two-day event will throw light on the combined power of geospatial intelligence, space-based assets, and cutting-edge innovation to tackle emerging threats in the Indo-Pacific.