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New Mapping Guidelines for Liberal Geospatial Data Policy Release by Indian Government

Geospatial data means the information associated with any particular geographical location on the Earth's surface. Perfect geospatial data is very significant for any kind of infrastructural or other development programs like roadway extension, rivers linkage through bridges, development of industrial corridors and transportation systems, environmental impact assessment of any development projects, etc. Such accuracy in geospatial data also important to developed smart cities and smart transport and communication systems.

India's geospatial data policy is unlocked by ISRO (Source: IND News)

Recently, a landmark reform and liberalization has been executed in Indian mapping policy, as the central government has declared some guidelines revealing the acquisition and creation of any kind of geospatial data. This liberal step can be boosted more attraction to scientific innovators, public and private entities in the developing projects. Such movement can be ensured India’s ultimate goal, that is to be Antmanirbhar (self-sufficient) when it comes to the analysis and mapping of geospatial data and navigation systems.

After the Indian space research organization (ISRO) launched NavIC as an alternative GPS tool and recently tie-up with MapmyIndia can help this new liberal policy and will empower Indian public and private companies to access the more accurate data of Indian territories without complex permissions and approvals processes. Here are the details about the new changing data policy and guidelines announced by the Department of Science and Technology.

Evolving integrated geospatial policy and strategy for India (Source: GeospatialWorld)

(1) Available exact geospatial data for infrastructure projects in India

For national infrastructure development projects like river bridges, transport communication, industrial corridors, railway corridors, setup smart power systems, etc, accurate geospatial data and associate maps are very essential.

(2) High-quality imaging and mapping data are compulsory for smart city development, e-commerce, and services

To develop advanced smart cities including e-commerce and services, home delivery, drone-based observatories, and urban transport communication need an accurate land use database and maps. Thus, such land use maps, 3D images, and smart street views can be developed properly with HD quality when accurate and best quality geospatial information is available and now everything is available to all.

Advanced e-communication, service, and development (Credit: Economic Times)

(3) Enhanced land use maps and data is also essential for Agriculture

More liberalization of this geospatial data could help farmers and small-scale business persons for developing their working sectors and could connect to the other profitable sectors.

Enhanced land use data and information for smart development (Credit: The Geospatial)

(4) ​Indian companies need not struggle to build geospatial tools after the removal of lengthy approval processes

As Indian startups and companies are very much able to provide more advanced tools that would help in infrastructural development projects, but the major obstruction had been in getting access and approval to geospatial data. “There were major restrictions on the mapping industry - from creation to distribution of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licenses, follow an awkward system of pre-approvals and permissions. Compliance with these regulatory restrictions have subjected startups in India to unnecessary red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades,” said the ministry in a press statement. But now, there will no conditions for earlier approval, security clearance, license, or any other limitations on the collection, creation, preparation, distribution, storage of geospatial data and maps within the Indian Territory.

(5) It will reduce the difficulty to access the geospatial data for the Indian Territory

Explaining the policy change, Sajid Malik of Genesys International said, “To get a 3D map of a particular region which includes street imagery, the company is required to fly an aircraft, get data, process it, and build tools based on that data accordingly. The entire process requires approvals at multiple levels from several ministries as per the project. Sometimes it may even take months to get the necessary approvals. The new policy change will simply allow us to work faster.”

(​6) New policy could empower indigenous navigations apps to challenged Google Maps

After the recent changes in policy, Google Maps may not be the only preferred navigation facility. Indian companies may also be competent to deliver alternatives to Google Maps with as good or even better accuracy mainly when it comes to internal navigation like inside airports, shopping malls, railway stations, hospitals, and more. Recent association between ISRO and MapmyIndia could lead towards these goals.

India-made Navigation system, Image representative (Source: EBU)

(7) Indian startups will be self-certified to get access to geospatial data

“Our startups and mapping innovators will be reliable to self-certify, be appropriate for excellent judgment, and be relied upon to display loyalty to guidelines” said the Department of Science and Technology in a press statement.

(8) India is an “emerging mapping power” – Government wish for

The government hopes that this liberalization in data policy will facilitate Indian innovators and creators for developing widespread advancement in mapping technologies. “We look forward to India emerging as a mapping power, creating next-generation indigenous maps of India and taking these new technologies to the rest of the world,” it said by Science and Technology Ministry.

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