India's geospatial sector

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India's geospatial sector

  • India has a robust ecosystem in geospatial, with the Survey of India (Sol), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISR0), remote sensing application centres (RSACs), and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in particular, and all ministries and departments, in general, using geospatial technology.
  • Geospatial technology is an emerging field of study that includes Geographic Information System (GIS). Remote (RS) and Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Geospatial technology enables us to acquire data that is referenced to the earth and use it for analysis, modeling, simulations and visualization.

Key Issues

  • Among the most prominent hurdles is the absence of a sizeable geospatial market in India.
  • There is no demand for geospatial services and products on a scale linked to India's potential and size.
  • This is mainly due to the lack of awareness among potential users in government and private.
  • The other hurdle has been the lack of skilled manpower across the entire pyramid
  • The unavailability of foundation data, especially at high-resolution, is also a constraint.
  • The lack of clarity on data sharing and collaboration prevents co-creation and asset maximisation.
  • Lastly, barring a few cases. there are still no ready-to-use solutions especially built to solve the problems of India.

Steps which need to be taken

  • First and foremost is the need to publish the entire policy document and make government and private users aware of things.
  • The data available with government departments should be unlocked, and data sharing should be encouraged and facilitated.
  • This will only bit possible through an open data sharing protocol.
  • The Government needs to invest in developing standards and must mandate the adoption of standards.
  • There is a need to establish a geoportal to make all public-funded data accessible through data as a service model, with no or nominal charge. Most important is to inculcate the culture of data sharing, collaboration and co-creation.
  • While different types of data will be produced on a project to project basis, there is a need to generate foundation data across India.
  • This should include the Indian national digital elevation model (InDEM), data layers for cities and data of natural resources.
  • Solution developers and start-ups should be engaged to build solution templates for various business processes across departments.
  • Local technology and solutions should be promoted, and competition should be encouraged for quality output.
  • As the new guidelines prevent high accuracy data being stored in overseas clouds, there is a need to develop a geospatial data cloud locally and facilitate a solution as service.
  • Unlike the West. India lacks a strata of core professionals who understand geospatial end-to-end. India should start a bachelor's programme in geospatial also in the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology.
  • Besides these, there should be a dedicated geospatial university. Such programmes will propel research and development efforts which are crucial for the development of technologies and solutions locally.

Way forward

  • The geospatial sector in the country is rightly positioned for investment.
  • However, clarity on the issues discussed and the creation of an enabling ecosystem are essential.
  • By the time we celebrate the 10th anniversary, we should have achieved the projected market volume and have Indian entrepreneurs stand out internationally.