Govt introduces National Geospatial Policy to promote startups, advanced tech

Govt introduces National Geospatial Policy to promote startups, advanced tech

Tech News

The 13-year guideline aims to promote the country’s geospatial data industry and develop a national framework to use such data for improving citizen services, and more.

Besides developing geospatial infrastructures, skill and knowledge, standards, businesses, among others, the policy aims to develop high resolution topographical survey and mapping, and a high-accuracy digital elevation model for the entire country by 2030.

“The policy takes it further by laying down an overarching framework for holistic development of the geospatial ecosystem. It spells out the vision, goals for industry, and outlines the strategies for achieving them. It seeks to develop geospatial infrastructures, skill and knowledge, standards, businesses, promote innovation, and strengthen the national and sub-national arrangements for generation and management of geospatial information,” the ministry said in a notification.

The policy will seek to develop a national geospatial data framework, and enable “easy availability” of data to businesses and general public. By 2025, the government will seek to put in place a legal framework that “supports liberalisation of the geospatial sector, and democratisation of data for enhanced commercialisation with value added services.”

The government will also look to improve availability and access of “better location data” for companies, including private organisations, by 2025.

The government will look to establish an Integrated Data and Information Framework, under which a Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure (GKI) will be developed by 2030.

By 2035, goals of usage of geospatial data will include mapping of sub-surface infrastructure in major cities and towns across India, and development of high resolution, accurate bathymetric geospatial data (resources and economy of inland waters, and sea surface topography of shallow and deep seas) to support India’s ‘Blue Economy’.

To achieve these goals, the National Geospatial Policy details the establishment and promotion of “geospatial data infrastructure” through a “well-defined custodianship model and data supply chain”.

The policy also outlines the creation of a national-level apex body, Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee (GDPDC), which will offer details regarding the use of geospatial data in governance across specific ministries, and enable the development of private startups and companies to work on specific projects.

It will also promote the use of National Digital Twin, which refers to an ecosystem of high resolution data to promote connected digital twins among private businesses “with secure and interoperable data sharing.”

The policy details the development of 14 National Fundamental Sectoral Geospatial Data Themes, which will be used to address various sectors that support the development of commercial geospatial applications in various sectors including disaster management, mining, forestry and more.

Industry stakeholders have welcomed the policy as a largely positive effort from the central government, to develop India’s fledgling commercial geospatial applications and businesses ecosystem.

“There are elements of enabling the private sector, but there are a number of enlisted national programs in it. So far, geospatial technology has not been assimilated well enough in governance mechanisms due to the absence of a framework,” said Chaitanya Giri, consultant at policy think tank Research and Information System for developing countries (RIS).

Calling the institutional framework the “brightest bit about the policy,” Giri said that, “Initially, the geospatial policy was expected to be entirely a private sector-enabling policy, but it is not restricted to just that.”

Anil Kumar, director general at industry body Satellite Industry Association of India (SIA), called the policy progressive. “We’re looking at how many applications the government needed to offer governance for, from various ministries. There are over 500 geospatial applications that the government needs in its governance procedures, which can now be built under the new framework. Globally, the geospatial market is worth $17 billion, of which only the space economy itself is worth $15 billion,” he said.

Kumar added that India presently does not have enough commercial businesses to capture a significant pie of this industry — which the National Geospatial Policy, 2022 can help develop.

Companies, however, said that the policy is conducive to the needs of the industry. Sajid Malik, chairman and managing director of homegrown mapping firm Genesys International, labeled the policy “a very positive move.”

“If you look at use cases, the Policy can now help us pursue clients since it signals clear intent from the government to promote such use cases. This can help us in developing advanced use cases and technologies, such as with digital twins to create a three-dimensional mapping experience.”

Rohan Verma, chief executive of MapMyIndia, said that the policy can help Indian companies pursue commercial projects across sectors.

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