Geospatial Data & Its Application

Dr. Pillai spoke to the students of MDAE on the 13th of September 2019. Dr. Priam Pillai graduated with a PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT in 2011. He is currently an Associate Professor at PCE (Pillai college) in Mumbai, India and is the founding partner of UXO (Urban Expansion Observatory). Pillai gave a brief overview of GIS, the variety of useful applications especially in urban planning and the way machine learning is changing the field.

Dr. Pillai explained the historical expansions of cities through handy graphics and how geographical boundaries of cities exploded recently. The first ‘explosion’ in size happened when cars became commonplace, the second when a metro or urban rail transport system is developed.

Dr. Pillai then went on to speak about the major challenges Mumbai faces and will continue to face in the coming years. Namely i.e. water shortages, lack of good public transport, haphazard development, lack of open areas and bad building codes.

He then spoke shortly about the work UXO undertakes along with NYU helping various different governments across the globe plan for and develop cities and urban spaces. UXO is also involved with the 100 resilient cities project that helps cities develop as efficient and sustainable urban centers.

The session concluded with Dr. Pillai touching upon Machine Learning and how it’s being employed to produce maps, analyse datasets, employ Photogrammetry to overhaul the GIS & Urban Planning field.
The talk was extremely informative and introduced students to a host of new concepts namely Geographic Information Systems and technology usage in Urban Planning.

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