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Business News/ News / India/  Rules on geospatial data, maps liberalized

Rules on geospatial data, maps liberalized

The existing regime imposed significant restrictions on the mapping industry, from creation to dissemination of maps


India on Monday liberalized regulations on geospatial data and maps to achieve a $5 trillion economy and the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India. The government aims to make the geospatial data and modern mapping technologies available to Indian companies.

The government realised that the existing regime imposed significant restrictions on the mapping industry, from creation to dissemination of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licences and follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions. Compliance with these regulatory restrictions has subjected startups in India to red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades.

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Against this backdrop, the department of science and technology is announcing sweeping changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies. As part of this, 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 state.

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. There shall be no requirement for security clearance, licence or any other restrictions for these, according to the guuidelines.

“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 Professor Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology.

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, and solutions 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 endeavor, 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," Sharma said.

India relies heavily on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. “Liberalisation 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 locally relevant maps and geospatial data would also help improve 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 linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors, and deployment of smart power systems, the guidelines state. Emerging vibrant initiatives such as Digital India, Smart Cities, eCommerce, autonomous drones, delivery, logistics and urban transport require a leap forward in mapping with greater depth, resolution and precision, read the guidelines.

“Our startups and mapping innovators will be trusted to self-certify, apply good judgement and be relied upon to demonstrate adherence to guidelines. In addition, measures to promote the development of Indian geospatial innovations that take advantage of the latest map-making technologies are proposed," Sharma said.

“With the next generation of mapping technology just about coming into its own around the world, this policy will enable Indian innovators to create substantial advances in mapping ultimately making our lives easier and empowering small businesses," he said.

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Updated: 15 Feb 2021, 03:34 PM IST
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