With location information being an integral part of the modern digital ecosystem and critical for unlocking economic, social and environmental opportunities for sustainable growth and development of the country, the Centre has issued guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps.
The Department of Science and Technology has announced changes to India's mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies.
"What is readily available globally does not need to be restricted in India and therefore geospatial data that used to be restricted will now be freely available in India. Furthermore, our corporations and innovators are no longer 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," a press statement issued by the Ministry of Science & Technology said.
At the moment, India relies heavily on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. Liberalisation of the mapping industry and democratisation of existing data sets will spur domestic innovation and enable Indian companies to compete in the global mapping ecosystem by leveraging modern geospatial technologies, the ministry said.
Locally available and locally relevant maps and geospatial data would also help in improved planning and management of resources and better serve the specific needs of the Indian population.
"Sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, finance and revenue, logistics, transportation, technology, commerce & many more - which form 70% of India's GDP will be positively impacted, and country will see 4-5% GDP growth due to the horizontal, wide-spread & all-pervasive benefits of geospatial technologies," says Rakesh Verma, Chairman and Managing Director, MapmyIndia.
The new guidelines will apply to geospatial data, maps, products, solutions and services offered by government agencies, autonomous bodies, academic and research institutions, private organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
There shall be no requirement for prior approval, security clearance, license or any other restrictions on the collection, generation, preparation, dissemination, storage, publication, updating and/or digitization of geospatial data and maps within the territory of India. Individuals, companies, organizations, and government agencies, shall be free to process the acquired geospatial data, build applications and develop solutions in relation to such data and use such data products, applications, solutions, etc by way of selling, distributing, sharing, swapping, disseminating, publishing, deprecating and destructing.
Self-certification will be used to convey adherence to these guidelines. There will also be a negative list of sensitive attributes that would require regulation before anyone can acquire and/or use such attribute data.
"By easing collection, generation, preparation and dissemination of geospatial data and maps within the country, the new policy will enable sharing, collaboration and easy access to data without any constraints. This would unlock tremendous opportunities for applications of GIS in sectors like agriculture, mining, water, urban utilities, public safety and infrastructure which already rely heavily on geospatial infrastructure," says Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India technology Pvt Ltd
"Even private sectors like insurance, manufacturing, retail, banking can now tap into multitude of new opportunities enabled with location analytics. This would further boost the innovation in overall geospatial industry with Indian startups and software ISVs leading the development of GIS applications and solutions that solve some of the country's biggest challenges," Kumar added.