Digital Mapping Project Technology

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Focus Areas: Housing

This project funds the purchase of digital mapping equipment in 2011. This technology allows the Federation to undertake house mapping and plot surveying digitally, which was not possible before. A vital part of planning for re-blocking of land, construction of sanitation facilities, and provision of amenities is dependent on the surveys. The equipment is used for surveys in Bombay, Pune, and Bangalore as well as the total station survey for the Metro Rail project. The Metro Rail project is being implemented by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), a government body, and involves meetings with the NGO and consultant hired for the project, where challenges, issues, and community views are discussed. 

Location: Mumbai, India


The purchase of the Total Survey equipment and its subsequent use by the Federation to undertake plot surveys and house mapping. The surveys are conducted in Pune, Bombay and Bangalore for the Federation as well as on a contractual basis for various other organisations. 

Community capacity:

The equipment has vastly improved the survey team's capacity to undertake house mapping activities. Federation members received training on how to use the equipment. This has further strengthened the Federation members' positions as development partners and not just beneficiaries.


The equipment is currently being used in three cities.


The main impact of this investment has been that the Federations in Bombay, Pune and Bangalore now conduct their mapping activities digitally in house. Professional architects and engineers are now only sought for formal applications of projects.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$10,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The equipment has been leveraged to obtain contracts, grant funding and technical support from the State for the development and execution of projects. In Cuttack, outside Professional assistance has been obtained from Architects without Borders (ASF) Sweden volunteers; they helped the Federation carry out spatial analysis of the Ring Road Settlements in Cuttack and KRVIA with the assistance of the respective communities. They helped develop house typologies and the infrastructure layout.

Sheela Patel (+91) 22 238 650 53 View Website
Project social media channels:

Project information updated: 17 March 2016

Project in depth

Detailed Information

The Alliance of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mahila Milan, and National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) together with SDI responded to the need to improve surveying capacity in India. Specifically this includes the ability to conduct plane table surveys and auto cad drawings, which assists with site visits and meetings with communities and municipalities. The TATA Power, Metro Rail, and Cuttack Ring Road projects were the catalyst for improving this capacity.


The intention is to purchase Total Station surveying equipment and to build the capacity of the Federation so that they are able to undertake the surveys - plan table surveys, auto cad drawings and site visits - that need to be completed for each project.

Community capacity:

The intention is to improve the community's capacity to conduct surveys and undertake digital mapping exercises often provided by professional architects, planners and engineers. In so doing, the community's technical skills are improved and they become more self-reliant. 

Federation members are trained to use the machinery. The purchase has increased the survey capacity of the Federation, allowing for greater success in projects. For example, the TATA Power project has seen families being relocated and Federation membership increase as savings groups form. 


The project is implemented at the city scale, however it has since expanded to other cities, namely Pune and Bangalore, where the equipment has also been used by Federations in these areas for their projects. 


The purchase of the equipment will make the Federations less dependent on consultants as they will be able to perform most of the tasks in house and bring the professionals in only when formal applications are to be lodged. Futhermore, the Federations are able to earn extra income though the use of the equipment at the request of other organisations, including the State.

Patel, S. (2012). Why Enumeration Counts: Documenting by the Undocumented. [Online]. Available:
SPARC. (2012). Participatory Mapping for City-wide Slum Upgrading in India. [Online]. Available:
SPARC. (n.d.). Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Projects. [Online]. Available:
SPARC, NSDF & Mahila Milan. (2012). Relocation and Rehabilitation in Mumbai. [Online]. Available:
[VIDEO]. SPARC. (2015). Introduction to Survey Mapping. [Online]. Available:
[VIDEO]. SPARC. (2015). Household Survey. [Online]. Available:
[VIDEO]. SPARC. (2015). Settlement Survey. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Fully funded

Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC)

National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan