New Geospatial data policy: The government has approved the new policy on geospatial data and services related to such data. The policy aims to liberalise the access to geospatial data among private Indian entities. Geospatial data refers to all the data regarding natural or man-made, imaginary or physical features, whether they are above or below the ground. It also includes location information, and information relating to boundaries, points of interest, mobility data, etc. This is the data that helps in mapping, whether it be of different physical features, or places to visit, or even live location tracking by apps like Swiggy and Zomato.
In the policy, the government has acknowledged that various sectors of the economy would stand to gain with the availability of accurate, comprehensive and granular representation of Geospatial data that would be constantly updated.
The policy also aims to give a push to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative. In the policy, the government says that at the moment, India was relying on foreign resources to a large extent. However, with the liberalisation of the sector as well as the currently available datasets, the domestic companies would be able to give an innovative push to this area and would also be able to use modern technologies to compete globally in this sector. Also, since the Indian entities would get a push, it would lead to an increase in locally relevant maps, which would aid in better planning and management of resources suited for the Indian people.
Blue economy is also an area that would benefit from geospatial data. With India working to bring more projects to undertake the exploration of its water resources, the Bathymetric Geospatial data would help in achieving this goal.
With this policy, the requirement for private entities to get prior approval, undergo security clearance or obtain licence in order to collect or use Geospatial data has been done away with. Instead, the private entities would be able to self-attest and adhere to these guidelines without any governmental monitoring. The data collected by the government using public funds, except for classified data, would now be available openly.
As per the policy, only Indian entities would be able to get unrestricted access to data regarding ground truthing/verification, augmentation services for real time positioning and Indian ground stations. Apart from that, street view survey, terrestrial mobile mapping survey and Indian territorial waters surveying would also only be permitted for Indian entities.
For the purpose of the guidelines, the government has set threshold values for spatial accuracy and values and the digital maps and Geospatial data having values and accuracy up till the threshold, can be uploaded to the cloud. However, for maps and data going beyond the threshold, would only be allowed to be stored and processed on domestic servers or clouds.
The government also clarified that for political maps of the country, state or any other boundary, the maps or digital boundaries published by Survey of India would be taken as standard and they would be made available for easy download. For private entities wanting to publish such maps, adherence to these standards would be needed.