The Ministry of Science and Technology has 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 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.
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 and private companies need to navigate a system of permissions from different departments of the government as well as the defence and Home Ministries, to be able to collect, create or disseminate geo-spatial data.
Need for deregulation
The deregulation eliminates the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns.
Indian companies now can self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency.
There is also a huge lack of data in the country which impedes planning for infrastructure, development, and businesses which are data-based.
The government felt an urgent need to incentivise the geo-spatial sector for Indian companies and increased investment from private players in the sector.
There has also been a global push for open access to geo-spatial as it affects the lives of ordinary citizens and the new guidelines has ensured such an open access.
Start-ups and businesses can now also use this data in setting up their concerns, especially in the sector of e-commerce or geo-spatial based apps.
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.