National Geospatial Policy

The Indian government has recently notified the 2022 National Geospatial Policy, which will replace the National Map Policy of 2005. The policy aims to strengthen the location-centric industry to support the information economy. The policy uses guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and related services, issued by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in February 2021, as its foundation. The DST guidelines deregulated the geospatial sector and liberalised the acquisition, production, and access of data in the field. Building on it, the 2022 policy lays down a framework for the development of a geospatial ecosystem, including goals and strategies to achieve it.

What is Geospatial Data?

  • Geospatial data is a description of events or occurrences with a location on or near the surface of the earth. This location can be static, such as earthquakes or vegetation, or dynamic, such as a person walking on the road or a package being tracked. The location data obtained is usually combined with other characteristic attributes or recorded parameters to provide meaningful insights in the form of geospatial data.

The National Geospatial Policy

  • The National Geospatial Policy lists several targets to be achieved before 2035. The government aims to employ geospatial technology and data towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The policy emphasises the importance of locally available and locally relevant maps and geospatial data. It also aims to support innovation and creation in the field, �bridging the geospatial data divide�.
  • It seeks to create long-term, sustainable geospatial information management through capacity development and education programmes. The government hopes that the policy will encourage open standards, open data and platforms. The policy is structured to contribute towards the democratisation of data; Survey of India (SoI) topographic data and other geospatial data produced using public funds would be treated as common goods and made easily available.

The Roadmap

  • The government hopes that the policy will encourage open standards, open data and platforms. The policy is structured to contribute towards the democratisation of data. Survey of India (SoI) topographic data and other geospatial data produced using public funds would be treated as common goods and made easily available.
  • While the SoI will play the lead role in maintaining high resolution/high spatial accuracy orthoimagery (geometrically corrected image to remove geographical and optical distortion), actual collection and collation of data will be �increasingly done with private sector participation�.
  • Liberalisation in the field has the potential to support the government�s ease of doing business policy. The private sector is expected to predominantly cater to geospatial/location data-related needs and requirements of citizens. It will also play a key role in the creation and maintenance of geospatial and mapping infrastructures.

What do experts say?

  • �Landmark reform� Sajid Malik, Chairman and Managing Director of Genesys International Corporation, calls the policy a �landmark reform allowing the geospatial industry to grow�. �So far, there was no clear policy, and private sector was unsure of what can and cannot be done in the field,� Mr. Malik said. He also believes that the policy recognises the importance of the geospatial industry. The company also creates national digital twins of cities and towns, an exercise which Mr. Malik believes has a big role to play in the sustainability of our cities.
  • �Welcome move, but long way to go� Geospatial data enthusiast Devdatta Tengshe says that the policy is a mere wish list of what the government wants to achieve but there are no fixed timelines or responsibilities to achieve those goals. �The National Geospatial Policy is a good step in the right direction but is very abstract and generic in nature,� Mr. Tengshe says.
  • One of the key aspects of the policy is the emphasis on locally available and locally relevant maps and geospatial data. This is a departure from the reliance on global mapping giants such as Google Maps, which may not always provide accurate and relevant data for local areas. Mr. Tengshe believes that the e-commerce and delivery industry will be one of the main beneficiaries of this shift towards local maps, as it will enable more efficient and accurate delivery routes.
  • Another important aspect of the policy is the emphasis on capacity development and education programmes. This includes the development of a National Geospatial Skills Development Framework, which will ensure that the necessary skills and talent are available to support the growth of the geospatial industry.

Overall, the National Geospatial Policy is a significant step forward for the geospatial industry in India. The policy aims to support the growth of the location-centric industry, and to employ geospatial technology and data towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals. The policy also focuses on the importance of locally available and locally relevant maps and geospatial data, and on the development of capacity and education programmes to support the growth of the industry. While some experts have expressed concerns about the lack of fixed timelines and responsibilities, the policy is generally seen as a positive step forward for the geospatial industry in India.

 

Written by IAS POINT

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