India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) on Monday opened access to its geospatial data and services, including maps, for all Indian entities by saying, “what is readily available globally does not need to be regulated.” The move is said to release a lot of data that is currently restricted and not available for free.
The update represents a major change in the country’s mapping policy, which earlier required individuals and companies to seek approval for use of mapping data under the Geospatial Information Regulation Act, 2016.
Geospatial data includes location information about natural or man-made, physical or imaginary features, whether above the ground or below, boundaries, points of interest, natural phenomena, mobility data, weather patterns, and other statistical information.
“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,” the ministry said in a release.
The announcement comes at a time when advances in mapping technology, including aerial vehicles, mobile mapping systems, LIDAR and RADAR sensors, and satellite-based remote sensing techniques, are giving a lift to innovation in eCommerce, logistics and urban transportation sectors.
India has so far been reliant on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services. “The new guidelines for Maps and Geospatial Data are a path breaking reform ending decades of regulatory inertia. It has completely liberalised the generation and usage of maps and made it possible for India to take advantage of future map technologies,” Rahul Matthan, a lawyer, said in a tweet.
Commenting on the government’s move, Rohan Verma, CEO of MapMyIndia, said there will be an unprecedented value creation for Indian economy and society as result of making geospatial data available for general use.