The noose around collecting, processing, disseminating, storing, and publishing geospatial data and maps in India has been removed. The Ministry of Earth Sciences unveiled new guidelines for the sector on February 16, 2021, annulling ages of red-tapism by liberalizing India’s mapping policy. Experts believe that this will usher in a new era for Startups working and dependent on such data.
Srinivas Chitturi, Co-Founder & CEO of MTAP Technologies, a Bengaluru-based Startup redefining fleet transportation and operations for organizations across multiple industries, said, “This policy heralds a new era in geospatial information collection, publishing, and usage. It opens up tremendous opportunities for Indian Startups and private and public sector institutions to build large-scale solutions. This will help drive efficiencies in many sectors like agriculture, public services, emergency services, mining, manufacturing and retail with location intelligence and analytics.”
Since antiquity, India had an archaic mapping policy requiring a government license for anyone who wanted to acquire geospatial data (mapping information). These archaic laws pushed for dependence on top-down perspective or satellite-based mapping. However, the new laws in place have opened the floodgates for ground-level surveillance providing impetus to next-gen detection technologies like 360-degree cameras and IoT devices, drone-based photogrammetry and light detection and ranging (LiDAR).
Manisha Raisinghani, Co-founder and CTO of LogiNext, a global technology and automation company focusing on transportation, said, “In the new policy, the Indian government has made it clear that anyone can create, collect and publish maps, both digital and physical. This is a huge boost for tech companies like ours, who make the best out of the internet, mapping and mobility. This new regulation will assist Startups in building on top of maps and not get bogged down by long unnecessary processes. This surely levels the playing field and helps tech Startups to compete further in the global domain.”
Besides logistics and transportation this new mapping policy will come as a boon for Startups trying to venture into the field of Aggrotech to solve various issues ailing the Indian farmers. A senior scientist from the Central Scientific Instrumentation Organisation said that the previous red-tapism hindered the pace of work in this sector. Mapping information plays a vital role in solving Indian agricultural issues.
“With the new policies in place, it will be easier for the public sector and private sector agencies to collaborate while working for innovations in the Aggrotech sector to come up with better solutions for issues like stubble burning, uneven rainfall distribution, falling water table and map-based crop distribution pattern, as mapping the same will be easier as compared to earlier regime that pushed for over-dependence on the government agencies and mufassil maps for working in this sector,” he added.
The new policy will help Startups freely acquire data from foreign companies with up to 1m accuracy in horizontal particular satellite data and develop a solution using such data. Earlier, there were restrictions on sharing or hosting the data on the cloud, which has been relaxed for private players.
Private players can now acquire data from the field without prior approvals like 3D street mapping, impacting applications like urban planning, geo-marketing, site assessment, etc. Now data produced using public funds will be available for development purposes without any restrictions. Foreign companies can license data up to 1m accuracy from Indian entities, which will help foreign companies invest in companies working in this sector and help them acquire Indian companies.
“Indian companies can now quickly take data from various government sources which will be easily available. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has also relaxed its data policy under these guidelines. Indian Startups can develop solutions using precise positional corrections provided by CORS stations maintained by the Survey of India,” said Ashwanil Rawat, Co-Founder & Director, Transerve, a location intelligence firm based out of Panaji, Goa.
Allowing data storage on the cloud will help Startups reduce their CAPEX and invest more in the technology. The new policy will lead to a free geospatial market which will bring down the cost of data and increase the large adoption of technology by private players. This will give rise to an innovative solution and create opportunities for new entrants in the market, he added.