The Urban Informatics Laboratory (UIL) is a space within the Indian Institute for Human Settlements where collation, organisation and dissemination of information related to India’s urbanisation takes place. The laboratory’s mandate is three-fold: to build repositories of quantitative, qualitative and spatial data that tackle questions related to the urban space in India; to design and develop means of dissemination using various media that highlight key trends in India’s urbanisation story; and, to analyse and study the developments in the urban space in India, and create a space where such studies can be showcased.

The UIL currently hosts data from large Indian public data sources, like the Census of India, National Sample Survey Organisation, Ministry of Commerce, and, Annual Survey of Industries. It is in the process of building a series of dissemination platforms, including a data repository, a platform to browse and create and visualise spatial and non-spatial data, and a research blog. Future platforms will include print publications, web-based applications, and working papers.

Dissemination Platforms

Data Repository

The UIL Data Repository is a collection of data that have been sourced from various Indian public sources, like the Census of India, the National Sample Survey, Ministry of Commerce, and the Annual Survey of Industries, and created by researchers in IIHS, which are made available to researchers within IIHS and from associated institutions. All data have been converted to commonly used data formats and indexed into the IIHS Library indexing methodology.

Complete Census of India databases for 1991 and 2001 have been collated and stored in an accessible format. All available data released from the Census of India 2011 have also been uploaded. In addition, the complete Administrative Atlas series from 2001 and 2011, Housing Atlases from 2011, and, Census Atlases from 1951, 1961, 1971 and 1971 have been made available. Currently, District Census Handbooks from 1991 and 2001 are being collected and sorted. Future plans include collecting Census of India databases from 1981, 1971, 1961 and 1951.

National Sample Survey databases from the 69th round, 68th round, 66th round, 64th round, and 61st round have been collated and made available to researchers. Future plans include collecting databases from all quinquennial rounds of the National Sample Survey.

Inter-state Movements and Flows of Goods by Rail, River and Air for the years ending 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 have been digitised and collated for users. The digitisation process for earlier years, up to 1991, is ongoing.

Geospatial data that have been digitised and made available to users include base maps of states of India, districts of India corresponding to Census 2001 and 2011, the Indian Railways, national highways of India, waterways and water bodies of India, and, topographical maps derived from the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. Current efforts include the creation of a point location database for all settlements listed in the Census of India 2001 and Census of India 2011, and, the digitisation of various thematic maps published by the National Thematic Maps Organisation of India.

UIL Data Portal

The UIL Data Portal is designed as a space that would allow users to browse through available data in the UIL Data Repository, upload their own data, create spatial and non-spatial visualisations, and download cleaned and formatted data. The Data Portal is built on the existing UIL Data Repository. The background databases are housed in a combination of MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, and the visualisation space is built using a local instance of the CartoDB platform.

The current iteration of the UIL Data Platform has been developed by students from the Global Information Engagement Program of the University of Michigan. It currently allows users to browse through available data and create a variety of spatial and non-spatial visualisations corresponding to various levels of geographic aggregation. The platform suggests possible visualisations based on the data that has been selected by the user. The video below showcases some of the functionalities that are currently available.


This iteration of the UIL Data Platform is currently undergoing testing within IIHS, and will be available for the greater public in 2015. For any questions or ideas related to this, please email us at uil@iihs.ac.in

Future additions to the functionalities of the platform include integration of raster analysis capabilities, linking with OpenStreetMaps and GeoFabrik databases, and, allowing users to design and store their own analysis algorithms.

UIL Blog

This space will showcase ongoing projects and material generated by the Urban Informatics Laboratory and associated researchers.


Shriya Anand

Shriya worked at the Centre for Development Finance, the National Knowledge Commission, and provided advisory inputs for the High Power Expert Committee on financing infrastructure, chaired by Dr. Isher Ahluwalia. IDFC, SEWA, Development Innovations Group and UNDP are other clients she has worked with. Most recently, she worked with New Jersey Future in the US and was involved in a study of land rights in Cambodia.

Arindam Jana

Arindam primarily works on demographics and information systems. His other areas of interest lie in information design, urban economics and transportation systems. At IIHS, he has been developing tools and methodologies to improve current public perceptions of what constitutes the ‘urban’; and, evaluating interpretations drawn from large public information sources. He co-anchors the Urban Informatics Lab. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Anna University, Chennai, and, a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from University of Madras.

Jyothi Koduganti

Jyothi is a Research Assistant at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and works on economic growth and development, employment, poverty, and vulnerability. She is currently working on issues in poverty measurement in India and on the phenomenon of new township development, including aspects of planning, governance, and economic development. She has a Master’s degree in Economics with a specialization in Development Studies from the Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Pune. She also holds a Diploma in Liberal Arts from Symbiosis, Pune.

Mohan Raju JS

Mohan is a Research Assistant at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. He is part of Academics and Research team. He is primary focus area is developing and managing databases for Urban informatics Laboratory, developing interactive visualisations, and data analytics. He works on visual basic, Java and HTML platforms. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Reva Institute of Technology.

Garima Jain

Garima is a senior research associate at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and her areas of research include issues of vulnerabilities and risks particularly in urban areas, migration, climate change and multi-dimensional urban poverty. She is currently involved in developing Comparative City Indicators for the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. She recently exhibited her explorations along with the works of Paul Fernandes in ‘Curious Transformations’ – a documentation of changes taking place in the city of Bangalore. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Neha Sami

Neha has worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority as an analyst with the Economic Development Division. She has also worked as a consultant with the Environment and Sustainable Development Division of the UN-ESCAP (Bangkok).

Swastik Harish

Swastik is a part of the design and implementation team for the IIHS Urban Practitioners’ Programme, the executive and continuing education function at IIHS. His main area of work revolves around housing for the urban poor, with a special focus on rental housing mechanisms. Besides these, he is also involved in capacity building programmes around heritage planning and management, data visualization and green building technologies and concepts. Besides his experience in his core areas of architecture and design as well as teaching and pedagogical design, Swastik has technical expertise in physical and virtual modelling (prototyping), and advanced proprietary and open source software. He holds a degree in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi.

Vikrant M S

Vikrant leads the Media and Design team and is responsible for design and development of the IIHS brand. His areas of expertise include User Interface Design, Corporate Branding, Brand Development and Creative Direction.


Siddharth Hande
Siddharth is a geo-spatial analyst as well as an urban studies and new media researcher by training. He is the founder of Supportive Cities and Kabadiwalla Connect, which are social enterprises in the fields of alternative career development and waste management respectively. He is also the co-founder and managing director of N-Spatial Technologies, which is a spatial research, training, application and product development consultancy.

Prabu Raja
Prabu is a web-GIS expert and focuses on mobile and web product development. He is the Technology Lead at Transparent Chennai, which is an NGO working on issues related to the urban poor in Chennai. He also consults with N-Spatial Technologies, which is a spatial research, training, application and product development consultancy.

Christopher Herlich
Christopher Herlich is a Second year Master of Urban Planning student, with a concentration in Physical Planning and Design. Before returning to school, Chris worked as a government relations and environmental consultant, performing policy analysis at the local, state and national scales on a wide range of topics. His previous long term professional projects have included environmental justice analysis, policy benchmarking, and public utilities and infrastructure analysis. Upon graduation, Chris hopes to become a planning consultant focusing on the impact of data on the urban form.

Marlon Phillips
Marlon Phillips is a recently graduated student specializing in Human Computer Interaction at the School of Information. His previous field of study was Urban & Regional Planning with a minor in Geographic Information Science at Michigan State University. Marlon’s current focus is on applying user experience, interaction design, and emerging technologies to generate creative solutions that improve the urban experience.

Michael Wayne Harris
Michael Wayne Harris is a recently graduated Master of Science in Information student, with a focus on library science and human-computer interaction. Michael’s current focus is on helping academic libraries with their technology and web development needs, especially through using Drupal. Before coming to the University of Michigan to study information science, Michael received two degrees in English at Yale University, focusing on British poetry and American Realism and Postmodernism.

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