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India issues guidelines to liberalize geospatial data rules

March 18, 2021

The Government of India has issued new guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and services, including maps. The Department of Science and Technology announced changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies.

“What is readily available globally does not need to be restricted in India and therefore geospatial data that used to be restricted will now be freely available in India,” a press statement issued by the Ministry of Science & Technology said. Currently, India relies heavily on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. Liberalization of the mapping industry and democratization of existing datasets will spur domestic innovation and enable Indian companies to compete in the global mapping ecosystem.

“15 February, 2021 will go down in India’s history as the day when the government made a path-breaking announcement to liberalize maps to achieve its vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy. The announcement comes at an apt time when advances in mapping technology have become the base for innovation, and directly contribute to key projects, such as smart cities, highways and the Digital India initiative,” said Sanjay Kumar, Secretary General & CEO, World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC).

Echoing similar views, Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India, said, “The new geospatial guidelines will remove barriers and will allow easy access to data and data sharing between government and private organizations. Private industry sectors like insurance, manufacturing, retail and banking will have access to location analytics for GIS-enabled decision- making.” Esri India is an Associate Member of WGIC.

BVR Mohan Reddy, Founder & Executive Chairman of Cyient, another Patron Member of WGIC, said, “In the context of Industry 4.0, geospatial data is more relevant than ever to all industries, and is foundational to India’s aspiration of becoming a five-trillion-dollar economy. The new policy democratizes geospatial data availability, accessibility and improves the ease of doing geospatial business. We anticipate greater geospatial innovation and application, paving the way for a new growth trajectory for the geospatial economy.”

Under the new guidelines, there shall be no requirement for prior approval, security clearance or license for the collection, generation, preparation, dissemination, storage, publication, updating and/or digitization of geospatial data and maps within the territory of India. Companies, organizations and government agencies shall be 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, depreciating and destructing. Self-certification will be used to convey adherence to these guidelines. There will also be a list of sensitive attributes that would require regulation before anyone can acquire and/or use such data.

This article was originally published in the WGIC Policy Watch Newsletter – March 2021