- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- GS-3: Indian Economy
Geo-Spatial Sector – Deregulated
Context: The Ministry of Science and Technology released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalises the sector to a more competitive field.
What is geo-spatial data?
- Geospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.
- The location may be static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
- Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned), and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
- Geo-spatial data has now become imperative for the government in planning for infrastructure, development, social development, natural calamities as well as the economy with more and more sectors relying heavily on this data.
- The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geo-spatial data in daily life with various apps such as food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce like Amazon or even weather apps.
What is the present policy on geo-spatial data?
- There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping under the current regime driven by internal as well as external security concerns.
- Private companies need to navigate a system of permissions from different departments of the government (Home, defence, etc.) to be able to collect, create or disseminate geo-spatial data.
Why has the government deregulated geo-spatial data?
- This system of acquiring licenses or permission has delayed projects for both private companies and government agencies.
- The deregulation eliminates the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns.
- Indian companies now can self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency.
- There is also a huge lack of data in the country which impedes planning for infrastructure, development and businesses which are data-based.
- The mapping of the entire country, that too with high accuracy, by the Indian government alone could take decades. Therefore, opening up the sector and incentivising the private sector will speed up the process of mapping.
- Large amounts of geo-spatial data are also available on global platforms, which makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.
- Geospatial data that used to be restricted will now be freely available in India for Indian companies.
- They will no longer be subject to restrictions nor do they require prior approvals before they collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, publish, update digital geospatial data and maps within the territory of India.
Benefits of deregulation:
- Increase Competitiveness in sector: By liberalising the system, the government will ensure more players in the field, competitiveness of Indian companies in the global market
- Evidence-based Policy making: This will ensure that more accurate data is available to both the government to formulate plans and administer its programmes. 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.
- Boost to Start-ups: Liberalisation of the mapping industry and democratization of existing datasets will spur domestic innovation and enable Indian companies to compete in the global mapping ecosystem by leveraging modern geospatial technologies.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat: Indian companies will be able to develop indigenous apps, for example an Indian version of google maps.
- Employment generation: The move will unlock tremendous opportunities for the country’s private sector, public sector, and research institutions, to drive innovations and build scalable solutions which will in turn generate employment
- Increased Investment and boost to Economy: The government also expects an increase in investment in the geo-spatial sector by companies, and also an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries, which in turn will boost the economy