India’s new mapping policy is a good step | HT Editorial
The government has announced radical changes to the country’s mapping policy by liberalising regulations on geospatial data and maps. With this constructive step, the Centre aims to make geospatial data and modern mapping technologies available to Indian companies so that they are not dependent on foreign resources. The existing regime is outdated since it imposes significant restrictions on the mapping industry, and requires Indian companies to follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions to get licences.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of geospatial data by many businesses such as app-based delivery companies, telecom and banking, to name a few. The private sector has been demanding a more comprehensive, accurate, granular, and constantly updated representation of geospatial data. The government too needs similar data for national infrastructure projects such as the creation of industrial corridors, deployment of smart power systems, modernising urban transport systems, and emerging initiatives such as Digital India and Smart Cities. But it is nearly impossible for the government alone to map the entire country, that too with high accuracy and quickly.
With more players coming into the fray, this process will speed up. While Indian entities will be free to use this data and build on it, foreign entities and foreign-owned or -controlled Indian companies can license from Indian entities. This can augment public-private partnerships. The government also expects an increase in investment in the geospatial sector by private companies. The next generation of mapping technology is coming into its own, and the policy will enable Indian innovators to create substantial advances in mapping domestically, and eventually play a role in the sector globally.