The Department of Science and Technology (DST) on 15th February, released the Guidelines for Acquiring and Producing Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services. These policy guidelines acknowledge the important role that geospatial data plays in the success of different sectors of the economy such as agriculture, fisheries and deep-sea mining in addition to industries offering location-based services like logistics and delivery.
Objectives of the policy
The government, through these guidelines seeks to make geospatial data more granular, comprehensive and widely accessible in India by liberalising the regulatory framework. This deregulation is expected to help improve the country’s disaster-preparedness and resource planning capabilities in addition to boosting the service industry. India has had 17 national-level geospatial policies and rules under 6 ministries/departments so far ; the new policy is supposed to remove many of the regulatory constraints imposed by the previous policies.
- Applicability of guidelines- The guidelines deregulate the preparation, storage and sharing of geospatial data, maps, products, solutions and services offered by government agencies, autonomous bodies, academic and research institutions, private organisations, non-governmental organisations and individuals.
- Removal of restrictions- No security clearance or approval will be required for the digitisation, storage and dissemination of geospatial data, except data relating to the negative list of attributes. Mere self-certification by the user will be required.
- Negative list of attributes- DST will constitute a Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee to enlist those attributes which the government claims to be ‘sensitive’ in nature. Access and dissemination of such data will be restricted.
- Restricted accessibility of foreign companies- Foreign companies and foreign owned or controlled Indian companies will be required to take a special license to capture, store and share Indian geospatial data. The guidelines state that Indian entities will have greater access to geospatial data, including real time positioning services such as the CORS Network  which the government seeks to establish through the SVAMITVA scheme. The threshold value for the permissible data accuracy is higher for Indian entities compared to foreign entities.
- Standardised political maps- In the case of political maps of India, maps published by the Survey of India will be treated as the standard.
Image by Miguel Ángel Hernández on Unsplash.
 ‘Continuously Operating Reference System’ (‘CORS’) is a geopositioning infrastructure which will enable the government to undertake accurate georeferencing while creating digital maps. ‘Georeferencing’ is the process of relating digital maps to a geographic coordinate system on the surface of the earth.
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