In a major relief for Indian mapping companies, the government has made it easier to get access to specific geospatial data including maps of all Indian territory. This means Indian startups and companies in the business of mapping will no longer have to wait for multiple formal approvals to launch new mapping products or even use technologies like LiDar, 3D or 4D for detailed mapping.
The Department of Science and Technology while announcing the new guidelines for geospatial data said, “What is readily available globally does not need to be restricted in India.”
When it comes to mapping, the common man can only relate to services like Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc. But geospatial data is of far more importance. Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems.
While Indian startups and companies are eager and capable of providing tools that would help in infrastructure projects, the major roadblock has been in getting access to geospatial data.
“There were significant restrictions on the mapping industry – from creation to dissemination of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licenses, follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions. Compliance with these regulatory restrictions has subjected startups in India to unnecessary red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades,” said the ministry in a press statement.
Explaining the policy change, Sajid Malik of Genesys International said, “To get a 3D map of a particular region which includes street imagery, the company is required to fly an aircraft, get data, process it and build tools based on that data accordingly. The entire process requires approvals at multiple levels from several ministries as per the project. Sometimes it may even take months to get the necessary approvals. The new policy change will simply allow us to work faster.”
“We welcome the path-breaking announcement and commencement of a new era in Indian GeoSpatial data collection and publishing. Having successfully created 360 degree immersive street imagery of all major Indian cities and undertaking several path-breaking projects for the Government of India, we foresee a positive impact on several industries and overall on the economy as well. We believe the policy is balanced as it also clears the way for foreign companies to operate without any ambiguity while empowering Indian companies,” Malik added.
The policy change will also allow local players to develop end users applications to help common citizens in navigation and it also paves the way for the creation of made-in-India Google Maps alternatives.