Experts from a range of domains on Friday discussed the implications and the road to implementation of the recently released Guidelines for acquiring and producing Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services, with the top scientific advisor to the government asserting that these guidelines will enable Indian innovators to make advanced maps.
On February 16, the Ministry of Earth Sciences released new guidelines for the geospatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalises the sector for a more competitive field. The guidelines, drafted by the Department of Science and Technology, bring sweeping changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies.
“As the next generation of mapping technologies develop, these guidelines will enable Indian innovators to make advanced maps at the highest resolution, empower small businesses, and make our lives easier,” said Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government, Professor K. VijayRaghavan at the stakeholders’ meet.
“The new geospatial guidelines have liberated this sector and have implications in several areas, whether it is mapping our bio-diversity, our rivers, and mountains, or using such data for health-care delivery, agriculture, or urban planning. This is an opportunity for Indian industries to set up mapping and a transformative one for both industry and science.”
Science and Technology Secretary, Prof Ashutosh Sharma, said that the guidelines will stimulate and empower Indian industry and surveying agencies without diluting security concerns. ‘Atmanirbharta’ in geospatial products and solutions can bring around one lakh crore business by 2030 and will also have economic impact through development, he said.
“Surveying and mapping is very critical to planning and execution, and the guidelines will lead to liberalisation of the process of approval, democratisation of geospatial data, and Atmanirbharata in the sector. Our corporations and innovators will not require prior approvals before they collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, publish, update digital geospatial data and maps within the territory of India and it will also lead to fair and transparent pricing of related products,” he pointed out.
Space Secretary and ISRO chief, Dr K. Sivan pledged support for implementation of the geospatial guidelines. He said that the space-based remote sensing policy that ISRO has now put in the public domain and the geospatial policy are going to do wonders for the country.
He added that ISRO is committed to seeing all Indians benefit from the good work that has been done at “Map my India” over the last 25 years and helping accelerate India’s rise as the most advanced country in the world through the full power of maps and geospatial technologies, all developed indigenously in India, for India, and in future, for the world.
Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal elaborated on the history of cartography and the relevance of the guidelines in that context. He said that the guidelines are historic at multiple levels, and the Indian companies can now use it for the development of society and the country.
The meet was attended by representatives from several stakeholders like industry, startups, academia, surveying agencies, and government ministries and departments who participated in a panel discussion on the occasion.
With the advent of publicly available geospatial services, a lot of geospatial data that used to be in restricted zone would be freely and commonly available now, and some of the policies and guidelines that used to regulate such information have been rendered obsolete and redundant.
The guidelines would ensure what is readily available globally does not need to be regulated.
For Indian entities, it would mean complete deregulation with no prior approvals, security clearances, licenses, etc. for acquisition and production of geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps.
High spatial accuracy geospatial data finer than 1 metre horizontally and 3 metre vertically can now be acquired and owned only by Indian entities and stored in servers physically located in India and government agencies, and others will collaborate and work towards open-linked geospatial data.