From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Geospatial data
Mains level : Benefits of the liberalized scheme
In sweeping changes to the country’s mapping policy, the government has announced liberalisation of norms governing the acquisition and production of geospatial data.
Q.What do you mean by Geo-Spatial Data? What are its economic and strategic significance?
What is the news?
- The Ministry of Science and Technology has released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India.
- It deregulated the existing protocol and liberalizes the sector to a more competitive field.
What is a 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, malnutrition among children, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
- Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information, and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
- Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities.
- The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geospatial 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 geospatial data?
- There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping under the current regime.
- The policy had not been renewed in decades and has been driven by internal as well as external security concerns.
- Private companies need to navigate a system of permissions from different departments of the government as well as the defence and Home Ministries, to be able to collect, create or disseminate geospatial data.
Why has the government deregulated geospatial data?
- This system of acquiring licenses or permission, and the red tape involved, can take months, delaying projects, especially those that are in mission mode – for both Indian companies as well as 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- these guidelines, therefore, place a great deal of trust in Indian entities.
- 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.
- The government, therefore, felt an urgent need to incentivise the geospatial sector for Indian companies and increased investment from private players in the sector.
- Large amounts of geospatial data are also available on global platforms, which makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.
- While for decades, geospatial data has been a priority for strategic reasons and for internal and external security concerns.
- This priority has seen a shift in the past 15 years – geospatial data has now become imperative for the government in planning for infrastructure, development, social development as well as the economy.
- More and more sectors such as agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc) are relying heavily on this data.
- There has also been a global push for open access to geospatial as it affects the lives of ordinary citizens.
- By liberalizing the system, the government will ensure more players in the field, the competitiveness of Indian companies in the global market, and more accurate data available to both the government to formulate plans and administer, but also for individual Indians.
- Startups and businesses can now also use this data in setting up their concerns, especially in the sector of e-commerce or geospatial based apps – which in turn will increase employment in these sectors.
- Indian companies will be able to develop indigenous apps, for example, an Indian version of Google maps.
- There is also likely to be an increase in public-private partnerships with the opening of this sector with data collection companies working with the Indian government on various sectoral projects.
- The government also expects an increase in investment in the geospatial sector by companies, and also an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries, which in turn will boost the economy.