Higher-resolution India maps by 2014

Higher-resolution India maps by 2014

New Delhi: The Survey of India (SoI), the country’s apex map authority, plans to release by 2014 a series of maps that are 25 times more detailed than the current ones.

This will benefit India’s nascent geospatial industry as well as the states that are trying to use three-dimensional (3D) maps to dispense public services.

The geospatial research industry, pegged at 1,100 crore, is expected to double by 2013, according to a 2010 industry report.

Maps that offer a resolution of 1:10,000—where 1cm on a map represents 1m on the ground— would likely by 2014 replace the existing workhorse 1:50,000 resolution that has been the mainstay for decades, according to R.C. Padhi, additional surveyor general.

The initiative follows a recent policy intervention by the government, reported earlier in Mint, to frame a national data access and sharing policy that could change the way the government maintains and shares information, two government officials said.

The policy will compel departments and publicly funded bodies to scan their records, review the kind of data they maintain, and release it for public consumption.

Officials involved in the initiative said the move will, for the first time, create institutional systems to coax ministries into sharing as much information as possible, provided this does not pose a security risk.

“In the next few years, if a government department doesn’t share information, it will have to give reasons why it isn’t doing so," said one of the officials involved in framing the policy. “If it classifies some information as restricted, it will have to justify its stance. That’s an inversion of current policy."

Despite the availability of more detailed maps in the future, it is unlikely that they would be as easily accessible as, say, Google Maps, said Aniruddha Roy, vice-president, Navayuga Spatial Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

“Making a detailed map is not technologically very difficult. But ultimately, it’s SoI which decides what details can be publicly shown," Roy said. “These cause delays."

A major obstacle to presenting geospatial data in a manner accessible to the public was the lack of standards various agencies employed while collecting and collating data from the field, according to Mahesh Chandra, deputy director general, National Informatics Commission.

“Several departments could be involved in such an exercise; however, much of what is collected is stored in differing formats," Chandra said. “To benefit from an improved geospatial data, we need a common set of standards."