Govt releases guidelines for new mapping data policy: All you need to know

Published on Feb 16, 2021 10:13 PM IST

Geospatial data is information related to any specific location on the Earth's surface. Accurate geospatial data is crucial during the infrastructure projects such as the creation of industrial corridors or linkages of rivers. They are also essential in developing smart-cities, for any work related to logistics and urban transport.

Under the revised guidelines, the sector will be deregulated and conditions such as prior approvals for surveying, mapping and for building applications have been removed.(AP Photo (Representative Image))
Under the revised guidelines, the sector will be deregulated and conditions such as prior approvals for surveying, mapping and for building applications have been removed.(AP Photo (Representative Image))
By | Edited by Shivani, New Delhi

In landmark reforms in the country's mapping policy, the government has announced liberalisation of norms governing the acquisition and production of geospatial data. The move is aimed at boosting innovation in the sector and create a level playing field for public and private entities.

Geospatial data is information related to any specific location on the Earth's surface. Accurate geospatial data is crucial during the infrastructure projects such as the creation of industrial corridors or linkages of rivers. They are also essential in developing smart-cities, for any work related to logistics and urban transport.

Also Read | Govt liberalises India’s geospatial sector. Here’s why

Under the revised guidelines, the sector will be deregulated and conditions such as prior approvals for surveying, mapping and for building applications have been removed. For Indian entities, there will be complete deregulation with no prior approvals, security clearances, licenses, for acquisition and production of geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps, as per the guidelines released by the department of science and technology.

On Monday, after the government announced the reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the liberalisation of policies, saying it is a "massive step in government's vision for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat (seld-reliant India)". "The reform will benefit the country's farmers, start-ups, private sector, public sector and research institutions to drive innovations and build scalable solutions, he also said.

Union minister for science and technology Harsh Vardhan also said the easing of norms will greatly help in several sectors that were suffering because of non-availability of high-quality maps. "Availability of comprehensive, highly accurate, granular and constantly updated representation of geospatial data will significantly benefit diverse sectors of the economy, significantly boost innovation in the country and greatly enhance its preparedness for emergency response," Vardhan had said in a press conference.

Here are the guidelines issued by the government:

1) Indian entities, whether in government or outside, will be free to acquire, collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, share, publish, distribute, update, digitise and/or create geospatial data, including maps, of any spatial accuracy within the territory of India including underwater within its territorial waters by using any geospatial technology. The permission will be subjected to regulations on attributes in the negative lists.

2) There will no requirement for prior approval, security clearance, license or any other restrictions on the collection, generation, preparation, dissemination, storage of geospatial data and maps within the Indian territory.

3) Individuals, companies, organisations, and Government agencies are also free to process the acquired Geospatial Data, build applications and develop solutions in relation to such data and use such data products, applications, solutions, etc by way of selling, distributing, sharing, swapping, disseminating, publishing, deprecating and destructing. However, self-certification will be used to convey adherence to these guidelines.

4) There will not be any negative list of prohibited areas.

5) Foreign companies and foreign-owned or controlled Indian companies can acquire a license from Indian entities digital Maps/Geospatial Data of spatial accuracy/value finer than the threshold value. It will only be given only for the purpose of serving its customers in India. Re-use or resale of such map data by licensees has been prohibited.

6) Digital maps or geospatial data of spatial accuracy/value up to the threshold value can be uploaded to the cloud but those with accuracy finer than the threshold value, mentioned in the government order, shall only be stored and processed on a domestic cloud or on servers that are physically located within the territory of India.

7) For political maps of India of any scale including national, state and other boundaries, Survey of India (SoI) published maps or SoI digital boundary data are the standard to be used, which shall be made easily downloadable for free and their digital display and printing shall be permissible. Others can publish such maps but that adherence to these standards is mandatory.

8) Entities which produce geospatial data using public funds are required to make data easily accessible for scientific, economic and developmental purposes to all Indian Entities and without any restrictions on their use. Security and enforcement agencies are exempted from this.

9) The entities are required to provide such data free of cost to government agencies and at fair and transparent pricing to others.

(With agency inputs)

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