The government has “liberalised” policies for mapping and geospatial data. Under the old policies, it was not easy for Indian companies to build tools and provide better mapping and geospatial data technologies. The ultimate goal for India is to be self-reliant when it comes to navigation, mapping and geospatial data. After ISRO launched NavIC as a GPS alternative, the new policy change will empower Indian companies to get access to accurate maps of Indian territories without going through multiple processes of permissions and approvals. The Department of Science and Technology while announcing the new guidelines for geospatial data said, “What is readily available globally does not need to be restricted in India.” Here is everything you need to know about the new policy changes and what it means.
Availability of specific geospatial data is crucial for infrastructure projects in India
Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems.
High-quality mapping data is required for smart cities, e-commerce, drones and more
Accurate maps with proper land details is essential for the growth of smart cities, e-commerce, autonomous drones, delivery, logistics and urban transport. The quality of mapping information depends on 3D images, HD quality maps with greater depth and accuracy.
Better mapping data or land information is also crucial for farming and small businesses
New geospatial data tools can help farmers get more information about their lands as well as help small businesses to expand.
Indian companies had to struggle to build tools due to lengthy approval processes
While Indian startups and companies are eager and capable of providing tools that would help in infrastructure projects, the major roadblock has been in getting access to geospatial data. “There were significant restrictions on the mapping industry – from creation to dissemination of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licenses, follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions. Compliance with these regulatory restrictions has subjected startups in India to unnecessary red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades,” said the ministry in a press statement.
The new policy change is exclusively for Indian companies
The new mapping policy is specifically for Indian companies. Geospatial data that used to be restricted will now be freely available in India for Indian companies. They will no longer be subject to restrictions nor do they require prior approvals before they collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, publish, update digital geospatial data and maps within the territory of India.
It used to take months earlier to get access to geospatial data of 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.”
The new policy change may empower India-made navigations apps to fight the likes of Google Maps
With the new change in policy, Google Maps may not be the only preferred navigation service. Indian companies may also be able to deliver alternatives to Google Maps with as good or even better accuracy particularly when it comes to indoor navigation like inside airports, malls, hospitals and more.
Indian government will be self-certified to get access to geospatial data
“Our startups and mapping innovators will be trusted to self-certify, apply good judgement and be relied upon to demonstrate adherence to guidelines,” said the Department of Science and Technology in a press statement.
Government wants India to be seen as an “emerging mapping power”
Government hopes that this policy change will enable Indian innovators to create substantial advances 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.