Home >News >India >Centre deregulates geospatial data and map-making in India

Indian companies can now buy geospatial data and modern mapping technologies, the department of science and technology announced on Monday, part of liberalized measures it said would introduce “sweeping changes" to the country’s mapping policy.

The government realized that the existing regime imposed significant restrictions on the mapping industry—from creation to dissemination of maps that require companies to seek licences and follow a cumbersome system of approvals and permissions. These rules have hobbled start-ups with red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades.

The ministry of science and technology on Monday issued guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps. 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, the guidelines said.

“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," the ministry said.

“The availability of comprehensive, highly accurate, granular and constantly updated representation of geospatial data will significantly benefit diverse sectors of the economy and will significantly boost innovation in the country and greatly enhance the preparedness of the country for emergency response," said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology.

According to the new guidelines, there will be no requirement for 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.

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," the guidelines state. However, self-certification will be used to convey adherence to these guidelines.

“In every economic endeavour, spanning agriculture, finance, construction, mining and local enterprise, India’s farmers, small businesses and corporations alike stand to gain tremendously from the application of innovative technologies based on modern geospatial data technologies and mapping services," said Sharma.

India currently relies heavily on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. “Liberalization of the mapping industry and democratization of existing datasets will spur domestic innovation and enable Indian companies to compete in the global mapping ecosystem by leveraging modern geospatial technologies," the guidelines said.

Locally available and 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, the guidelines stated.

Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linking rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems, the guidelines state.

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