To help local organizations and firms grow in the market, India has lifted restrictions that previously prevented firms to collect, store or share geospatial data of the country. The authorities said that local firms would no longer require any kind of permission or license to create and publish significant topographical data of India, although foreign companies are excluded from this exemption.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi said that this deregulation step will help local firms flourish in the Indian market, aid the “Make in India” initiative, and help them reach the country’s $5 trillion GDP goal.
“The regulations that apply to geospatial data and maps henceforth stand radically liberalized. The Department of Science and Technology is announcing sweeping changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies. What is readily available globally does not need to be restricted in India and therefore geospatial data that used to be restricted will now be freely available in India,” the authorities said in an official statement.
In the officially approved guidelines, the government wrote that Indian firms will be free to access “ground truthing/ verification”. This includes access to augmentation services to enable real-time positioning and access to Indian ground stations. Further, local firms will also enjoy free access to street view surveys, mobile mapping surveys, and will also be able to survey Indian territorial waters.
Now, as per the guidelines, these restrictions are lifted only for local companies, and not for MNCs and foreign firms. Previously, Google has reportedly tried to launch its Street View service in India but was unsuccessful.
“Foreign companies and foreign-owned or controlled Indian companies can license from Indian Entities digital Maps/Geospatial Data of spatial accuracy/ value finer than the threshold value only for the purpose of serving their customers in India. Access to such Maps/Geospatial Data shall only be made available through APIs that do not allow Maps/Geospatial Data to pass through Licensee Company or its servers. Re-use or resale of such map data by licensees shall be prohibited,” the guidelines further added.
Now, this step might sound insignificant to consumers but for local firms, it is being termed as a “historic” move by the government. It follows the recent announcement of a new initiative by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and MapMyIndia which aims to offer a fully indigenous mapping portal and geospatial services. So, this deregulation will help the country move one step closer to self-reliance.