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Map Your Way to Success: Good News for Startups!

Location is one of the key bits of data that can help scale your business beyond imagination. The government has announced a new policy that will allow private companies and startups to access this data, and here is how you can use it to your advantage.

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In a bid to advance the spirit of Atma Nirbhar Bharat, the Government of India has recently announced a policy (in March 2021) for allowing greater access to private companies in using geospatial data. Startups operating in the software industry, technology sector, space, and data processing are in for a treat.

What is Geospatial Data?

Geospatial data refers to maps of a territory. Until now, the government had exercised tight control on the production, access, or dissemination of such geospatial data. These maps can often process images in real-time, using terrain mapping and other kinds of satellites launched by the government.  

India’s mapping policies carried the burden of the 19th-century view that maps have high strategic value and merit secrecy. In the last few years, there have been major developments in data technology, high-resolution satellite imagery, and information gathering. Thus, the ancient theory of keeping mapping data secret no longer holds relevance. 

What Was the Policy Before 2021?

Before the liberalisation policy was announced, almost 46% of India’s territory was inaccessible without permission. For example, access to restricted villages’ data required attestation by an officer of Joint Secretary rank. A form had to be filled and required the relevant ministry’s approval. Moreover, high-resolution data was still restricted from access by private companies. 

Under the new policy, Indian entities will be given access to data with no prior approvals, security clearances, licenses; or permission to use geospatial data and the government’s geospatial data services. 

Why Is Access to Geospatial Data a Growing Economic Asset?

As business expansions are booming in India, with several new startups entering the e-commerce space every day, access to geospatial data is becoming a key asset. It is helpful to businesses in the following ways: 

Online delivery: For any e-commerce service to be operational, access to a physical location of their warehouses, shipping and customer’s location, etc. are necessary prerequisites. Geospatial data helps identify routes, shipping lines, etc by using coordinates. 

Multiple applications: Food delivery applications would need geospatial data for planning the most efficient route, while transport apps (cabs, trains, and aircraft) can use it to identify what routes need to be served. 

Data analytics: The data obtained from mapping technology can be useful for tech firms engaged in data analytics and advisory services to other businesses. For instance, data about renewable energy plants in an area can be easily available now, instead of routing an application for access to such data to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), Ministry of Defence, or Home Ministry for multiple permissions. 

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Business Advantages of Democratising India’s Mapping Policies

Since the liberalisation of India’s mapping policy has been announced, the restricted geospatial data would now be available to companies to create value-added products. Image processing, and digital data gathering, Indian companies would find themselves with a large economic asset of locations.

Data from the Geological Survey of India and the National Information Centre can now be accessed by companies without multiple permissions being required. The software industry would find greater avenues for servicing the demand for Geographical Information System (GIS). Access to data directly from authoritative sources such as NASA, ISRO. And, various other governmental bodies would certainly add relevance to a GIS service industry.   

Leveraging India’s investment in space: The government is investing in launching various satellites (such as the INSAT, Cartosat-3 satellite launched last year), and is giving free access to data. This allows the private sector to leverage India’s public investment in space technology. 

Privatisation of space technology: The IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) will play a greater role in allowing private players to access ISRO’s infrastructure. 

Boost industrial planning: Access to detailed maps and satellite data would help businesses in planning for their clients where to locate new factories, after mapping relevant assets such as energy, electricity, congestion, water etc. It can also be used by entrepreneurs in taking crucial business decisions. 

The commercialisation of such closely guarded services would help boost business presence and contribute to overall growth. It’ll also help advance the spirit of Digital India. Will help research organisations to build scalable solutions for driving out inefficiencies. 

How Can a Private Company or Startup Access Geospatial Data Now?

The guidelines issued by the government state that a self-certification with the Survey of India would be sufficient. Specific procedures are yet to be released by the government. A negative list would be notified for sectors and areas that would require regulation. 

At Vakilsearch, our business experts can help identify what permissions you need for your startup. Having assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs in their journey, our advisors can help you resolve all legal and compliance-related matters. If you are yet to start your business, we can help you register your company.

 

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