India’s Geospatial Sector

  • IASbaba
  • February 15, 2022
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • GS-3: Indian Economy

India’s Geospatial Sector

Context: It was in Feb 2021 new guidelines took effect to completely de-regulate the geospatial sector for Indians. It is time to look back and assess its impact and identify the bottlenecks so that the full potential of the geospatial sector can be realised

The Present Status of Geospatial sector

  • India has a robust ecosystem in geospatial, with the Survey of India (SoI), ISRO, remote sensing application centres (RSAC)s, and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) but the full benefits have yet to percolate to the public and there wasn’t much contribution to the nation’s GDP. 
  • Since deregulation, the geospatial sector, which was considered taboo by investors, is seeing new interest. The market of geospatial sector is estimated to grow to ₹1 lakh-crore by the year 2029 with 13% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). 
  • Since the new guidelines, some of the noticeable developments were over subscription of the initial public offering of MapmyIndia, launching of a city mapping programme by Genesys International in India and aggressive stance by investors in India’s geospatial sector.

Are there roadblocks still despite the enabling policy in place? 

  • Low demand due to lack of awareness: There is no demand for geospatial services and products on a scale linked to India’s potential and size. This is mainly due to the lack of awareness among potential users in government and private. 
  • Inadequate Products: Barring a few cases, there are still no ready-to-use solutions especially built to solve the problems of India.
  • Shortage of Manpower: The other hurdle has been the lack of skilled manpower across the entire pyramid. Unlike the West, India lacks a strata of core professionals who understand geospatial end-to-end.
  • Governance Gap: The lack of clarity on data sharing and collaboration prevents co-creation and asset maximisation. The restrictive data policy of yesteryears was the root cause of many of these limiting factors. 

Way Ahead

  • Spread Awareness: However, the experience has been that despite one year since the new guidelines came into effect, users are still not fully aware of things. There is a need to publish the entire policy document and make government and private users aware of things.
  • Generate foundation data across India that should include the Indian national digital elevation model (InDEM), data layers for cities, and data of natural resources. 
  • Accessibility of Public-Funded data: The data available with government departments should be unlocked, and geo-portal needs to be established to make all public-funded data accessible through data as a service model, with no or nominal charge.
  • Open data sharing protocol: There is a need to inculcate the culture of data sharing, collaboration and co-creation. This will only be possible through an open data sharing protocol.
  • Promote Entrepreneurship: Solution developers and start-ups should be engaged to build solution templates for various business processes across departments. Local technology and solutions should be promoted, and competition should be encouraged for quality output.
  • Decentralising Regulation: National organisations like SoI and ISRO should be entrusted with the responsibility of regulation and the projects related to the nation’s security and scientific significance.
  • Increase the pool of skilled manpower: India should start a bachelor’s programme in geospatial also in the IITs and NITs. Besides these, there should be a dedicated geospatial university.

Connecting the dots:

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