India - Geo-spatial Sector

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The Ministry of Science and Technology released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalises the sector to a more competitive field.

Geospatial data

  • Geospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.
  •  The location may be static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease. 
  • Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned), and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
  •  Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities. 
  • The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geo-spatial data in daily life with various apps such as food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce like Amazon or even weather apps.

Present policy on geo-spatial data

  • There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping under the current regime. 
  • The policy had not been renewed in decades and has been driven by internal as well as external security concerns. 
  • The sector so far is dominated by the Indian government as well as government-run agencies such as the Survey of India and private companies need to navigate a system of permissions from different departments of the government (depending on the kind of data to be created) as well as the defence and Home Ministries, to be able to collect, create or disseminate geo-spatial data. 
  • Initially conceptualised as a matter solely concerned with security, geo-spatial data collection was the prerogative of the defence forces and the government. 
  • GIS mapping was also rudimentary, with the government investing heavily in it after the Kargil war highlighted the dependence on foreign data and the need for indigenous sources of data.

 Impact of new guidelines

  • By liberalising the system, the government will ensure more players in the field, competitiveness of Indian companies in the global market, and more accurate data available to both the government to formulate plans and administer, but also for individual Indians. 
  • Startups and businesses can now also use this data in setting up their concerns, especially in the sector of e-commerce or geo-spatial based appswhich in turn will increase employment in these sectors.
  •  Indian companies will be able to develop indigenous apps, for example an Indian version of google maps. 
  • There is also likely to be an increase in public-private partnerships with the opening of this sector with data collection companies working with the Indian government on various sectoral projects. The government also expects an increase in investment in the geo-spatial sector by companies, and also an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries, which in turn will boost the economy.


Source : Indian Express

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