CONTEXT: The Union Department of Science and Technology has released a new geospatial sector policy in the country. This step is important because the government has decided to release geospatial data and geospatial data services. It also decided to delete the existing protocol in this regard.



  • It is data about objects / events / events that have a place on the surface of the earth.
  • Geospatial data includes location information, attribute information (item features, event, or events involved), and general information in general.



  • The policy has not been updated for decades and is driven by internal and external security concerns.
  • The sector is currently dominated by the Indian government and state-owned agencies and private companies need to navigate the system of permits from various government departments and Ministries, in order to be able to use geo-spatial data.



  • The process of obtaining licenses or permits, as well as the red tape involved, can take months, delays in projects, especially those in the form of equipment – in both Indian companies and government agencies.
  • The repeal of the law removes the requirement for permits and processing.
  • Indian companies can now comply with these guidelines and thus place great confidence in Indian businesses.
  • There is also a huge shortage of data in the country that hinders infrastructure planning, development and business.
  • There is a need to increase investment from independent players in the sector.
  • Although for decades, geo-spatial data has been important due to strategic reasons and internal and external security concerns, these values ??have changed over the past 15 years.
  • Geo-spatial information is now critical to government planning for infrastructure, development, social development, natural disasters and the economy.
  • A large amount of geo-spatial data is also available on international platforms, making data regulation available for free in some countries, untenable.



  • By liberalising, the government will ensure more players, the competitiveness of Indian companies in the world market, and more accurate data available to both the government to plan and manage, but also for individual Indians.
  • Startups and businesses can now use this data for addressing concerns, especially in the field of e-commerce or geo-spatial based applications – which will also increase employment in these sectors.
  • Indian companies will be able to develop native applications.
  • There may be growing partnerships between private and public companies.
  • Government also anticipates an increase in investment in the geo-spatial sector by companies, as well as an increase in data transfer to companies and abroad, which will boost the economy.




  • Indian businesses, will be free to acquire, collect, produce, prepare, distribute, store, share, publish, distribute, renew, digitize and / or create geospatial data.
  • Ground verification, access to Indian ground stations and augmentation services for real time positioning and their data shall be made available without any restrictions and with the ease of access to Indian Entities only.
  • Terrestrial Mobile Mapping survey, Street View survey and surveys in Indian waters will only be permitted to Indian entities without regard to their accuracy.
  • Maps / Geospatial Data for location / value higher than the threshold limit value can only be created and / or owned by Indian businesses and should be stored and processed in India.
  • Foreign companies and foreign companies owned or controlled by India can license from Indian Entities digital Maps / Geospatial Data for precise location / refined value beyond the limit value only for the purpose of providing their customers in India.
  • Access to those Maps / Geographic Data will only be made available through APIs that do not allow Maps / Geospatial Data to pass through the Licensing Company or its servers.
  • Reuse or resell of that map data by licensors will be prohibited.
  • Digital Maps / Geospatial Data for location / border value can be uploaded to the cloud but those that are more accurate than the threshold value will only be stored and processed on home clouds or on virtual servers within the Indian environment. .
  • There will be no restriction on the issuance of Map Data / Geospatial location accuracy / value up to the limit value without the attributes listed in the negative list.
  • All Geospatial Data generated using public funds, with the exception of separate geospatial data collected by security / law enforcement agencies, will be easily accessible for scientific, economic and development purposes for all Indian businesses and without any restrictions.



  • Geospatial data is very important because it gives people information about roads, railways, resources, locations and waterbodies.
  • Over the years, the use of geospatial data by ordinary people has grown exponentially, as it forms the background of all Google Maps and any other such application, and forms the basis of navigation features.
  • However, it does not end there. Tracking live delivery of food products to Swiggy or Zomato, or live location on WhatsApp or Ola is also made possible due to geospatial data and geospatial data services.



  • India is moving towards the development of the infrastructure that is needed to equalize with the rest of the world.
  • Through programs such as Smart Cities and Digital India, state-of-the-art systems such as urban public transport, delivery and logistic and global technological advancements to roll out products like e-commerce, automated drones, etc in place, geospatial data is of key importance to undertake geospatial mapping to ensure proper development.
  • However, India is full of data shortages. In line with the decision and accuracy needed to carry out this task, if the government intends to do it alone, it may take longer to complete.
  • By opening up the sector, the government has not only allowed a lot of hands on the table to complete this huge project, but it is likely to rely on private companies’ competition to get the job done at faster speed.
  • Not only that, but the process of authorizing private companies to use such data was a time-consuming process that unnecessarily tied up resources of government and private companies. Now, the private sector will be able to verify and adhere to guidelines without the government having to monitor everything it does, make the NGOs independent and free up government resources.
  • Government expects that through this policy, private companies will be able to innovate in the sector and produce more solutions based on it, which will lead to increased employment in the geospatial sector, while also promoting economic growth.
  • With the opening of such data, the efficiency of agriculture and related sectors will be proven, the government hopes.



  • Geospatial technologies is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic geospatial mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies. It is the technology used to acquire, manipulate, and store geographic information. GIS is one form of geospatial technology.
  • There are now a variety of types of geospatial technologies including the following:
  • Remote Sensing: imagery and data collected from space- or airborne camera and sensor platforms. Some commercial satellite image providers now offer images showing details of one-meter or smaller, making these images appropriate for monitoring humanitarian needs and human rights abuses.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): a suite of software tools for geospatial mapping and analyzing data which is georeferenced (assigned a specific location on the surface of the Earth, otherwise known as geospatial data). Geographic Information Systems can be used to detect geographic patterns in other data, such as disease clusters resulting from toxins, sub-optimal water access, etc.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): a network of satellites which can give precise coordinate locations to civilian and military users with proper receiving equipment
  • Internet Mapping Technologies: software programs like Google Earth and web features like Microsoft Virtual Earth are changing the way geospatial data is viewed and shared. The developments in user interface are also making such technologies available to a wider audience whereas traditional GIS has been reserved for specialists and those who invest time in learning complex software programs.





National Geospatial Policy 2016

  • Existing Related Policies
  • The National Map Policy 2005 (NMP-2005) defines the scope, distribution and liberalized access of digital Survey of India (SOI) topographic maps to user groups without jeopardizing national security.
  • The Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), 2012 detailing procedure for issuance of flight clearances for agencies undertaking aerial photography, geophysical surveys, cloud seeding etc.
  • The Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP – 2001 and 2011) defining the distribution process of satellite images to different category of users.
  • The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy-2012 (NDSAP-2012) providing an enabling provision and platform for proactive and open access to the data generated through public funds available with various departments / organizations of Government of India.
  • The objective of the policy is to empower people through Geospatial Data, Products, Solutions and Services. This would involve creation, management, access, sharing and dissemination of quality assured products, services and solutions through standards to enable government, academic, private organizations and NGOs more effective economic and social benefits.
  • The Policy covers all products, solutions, and services using geospatial data in supersession of the above policies to the extent stated in this policy.
  • Types of Access of geospatial data: open, restricted, automatic registered, authorised registered
  • All Geospatial Data, Products, Solutions and Services should conform to national and international standards
  • Role of private sector in all spheres of geospatial domain is recognised and be utilized. This would be facilitated by guidelines and templates for partnership with geospatial industry.
  • A programme be launched to encourage innovation and start ups looking into geo value chain for development of apps.
  • NGP encourages technology independent solutions for inclusive development.
  • Implementation, Steering and oversight committees to be constituted.
  • Government institutions / agencies are mandated to make geospatial data available to all other government institutions / agencies at no cost.
  • A National Geospatial University be created to strengthen research, education and training
  • Formation of a public-private partnership mechanism


Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016

  • According to the draft, it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.
  • Any addition or creation of anything that has to do with any geospatial information – or location – within the territory of India will need the permission of the government or, in this case, a Security Vetting Authority.
  • Security Vetting Authority grants licenses to organisations/individuals who want to use geospatial data.
  • Illegal acquisition, dissemination, publication, usd or distribution of geospatial information of India – Fine and/or imprisonment.


Indian geospatial economy

(Indian Geospatial Economy Report 2018, released by Geospatial Media

  • The Indian geospatial economy value is $3.07 billion and it employs over 250,000 people across the country.
  • Of this, the domestic market is estimated at $1.14 billion in FY 2017-18 growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.9%.
  • It may be noted that this growth rate is greater than the global average of 11.5% CAGR during the same period.
  • Indian geospatial industry is strong in the services domain.
  • The major growth drivers for the geospatial industry have been the push by federal and state governments for robust physical infrastructure, effective governance delivery including e-governance and digital economy initiatives, integrated programs on urban and rural development initiatives such as Smart Cities, RURBAN clusters etc.
  • Geospatial market is dominated by infrastructure, urban development and utilities. Together, these three sectors had an estimated market share of 22.1%, 13.9% and 15.7%, respectively, representing nearly half of the total geospatial market of India.
  • Mining, Education and Research, Water Resources and Irrigation sectors are the next three major user segments contributing nearly 5.5%, 5.3% and 4.9%, respectively, during the period.
  • The study found that the GNSS and Positioning segment dominates the market with a market share of nearly 72.8%, with GIS and Spatial Analytics coming a distant second with 23.1%. Earth Observation and 3D scanning and surveying segments were neck and neck for 2.1% and 2%, respectively.
  • Market is expected to reach $ 20 bn by 2025.

Applications in India:

  • India was the forerunner in using modern spatial technologies and started its tryst with satellite images.
  • In 1990’s India had own Indian Remote Sensing satellites and image based geospatial mapping and have been creating GIS databases and applications.
  • India marched ahead to build National Spatial Data Infrastructure during start of last decade.
  • Some of the major GIS initiatives.
  • Natural Resources Geospatial Information System under National Natural Resources Management System;
  • National Spatial Data Infrastructure;
  • Bhuvan Image Portal;
  • Delhi State Spatial Data Infrastructure;
  • National Urban Geospatial Information System;
  • Establishing G2G GIS by National Informatics Centre;
  • Recent efforts at modernization of land records under NLRMP;
  • Restructured Advanced Power Development & Reform Program (R-APDRP)
  • Various City GISs (example Mumbai, Bangalore, Kanpur, Kolkata).

Major industries and use of geospatial technologies

  • Agricultural Sector – Satellite imagery and GIS are two of the most widely used technologies. The growing demand for sensors on the mapping and monitoring board is evident.
  • Electrical services – GIS is widely used in asset management and network planning. The availability of real-time / updated information about goods and buyers is key to using geospatial technology.
  • Climate Change and Disaster Management
  • Earth Observation Skills – India continued its tradition of successful launch of the Earth Observation satellite in 2020 by injecting EOS-01 (formerly RISAT-2BR2) into its target line.
  • Education
  • Governance – ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ is a major transformation focused on making the country and its citizens independent and self-reliant introduced in 2020.
  • Health Care – The “National Digital Health Mission” launched in 2020 aimed at creating digital healthcare infrastructure and geospatial technology will continue to play a key role in its success.
  • Land Resource Management- The Ministry of Forestry has continued to use the remote sensor and GIS technology to map the forest cover and to check the carbon footprint to intensify the much-needed conservation and recovery efforts across the country.
  • Social Sector – Adoption of geospatial technology and tools in the social sector to address complex social issues including education, livelihood, investment, environment, ecology, resource management, etc. it was encouraging in 2020.
  • Water Resource Management – Jal Shakti Ministry and state governments have introduced integrated water resource management systems aimed at strengthening national water security. Geospatial technology has been an integral part of these systems.


  • Lack of reliable basic data: To ensure the availability of up-to-date, comprehensive, and inclusive data development in the private sector, there is an urgent need for all data generated by various agencies to be open and accessible.
  • Lack of comprehensive policy: There are a total of 17 national level policies and legislation pertaining to geospatial data, under up to six ministers / departments. You need to revisit these policies and change the integrated geodata policy.
  • There are no clear guidelines for data sharing: Despite the existence of the National Data Sharing and Access Policy 2012, much of the geospatial data created in India lies in silos because there is no single platform that can be used by all departments to consolidate value- additional data.
  • Lack of single window approval: With many permitting departments, and the sensitivity associated with geospatial data, the decision-making process is very slow. During the issuance of certificates, changes in the landscape are observed and image data loses value, having a negative impact on project implementation.
  • Lack of CORS network: CORS technology, which has quickly become the preferred 3D precision 3D format and is the basis for any Smart City agenda, is yet to launch in India. Although Research in India has identified the need to build a national CORS network as soon as possible, without funding, this project could be time consuming.
  • Research results are often standalone and there is no consensus.
  • Government departments are reluctant to build the capacity within departments to create a gap in understanding processes.



Policy Framework

  • Integrated National Geospatial Policy
  • National level geospatial sector coordination mechanism
  • Ecosystem development for geospatial industry, startup entrepreneurship and Innovation, R&D promotion
  • National guidelines on data sharing and standards


User Adoption

  • Industry partnered geospatial technology use mandates in mission-mode programs
  • Industry partnered Centre of Excellence in key mission areas like railways, smart city solutions.
  • Incentive-reward programs
  •  Benchmarking reference examples

Institutional Capacity

  • Skill development:
  •  National Geospatial Education Policy


Geospatial Data Infrastructure

  •  Base maps
  • Modern geodetic references.
  • Modern and precision Ground positioning infrastructure i.e. CORS network


Industry Fabric

  • Startup accelerator, incubation programs, innovation challenges
  •  National, regional or functional awards programs with industry-institute participation
  •  Geospatial equity investment/debt funds
  • MSME/Innovation cluster programs


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