5 key challenges of doing geospatial business in India

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India is the world’s third-largest economy based on purchasing power parity. But when you look at the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the country ranks a dismal 58 out of 140 countries. Clearly, there is greater potential waiting to be unlocked. And geospatial technologies are poised to play a big role in driving India’s growth story.

Every major national program, such as Digital India, Smart Cities, transportation and highway development, river linking, industrial corridors, smart power, and agriculture, relies heavily on updated maps and spatial infrastructure. But when it comes to the ground adoption of geospatial technologies by businesses, there are some challenges that are unique to the Indian context.

A vision document called ‘Geospatial Strategy for New India’ which was released on the sidelines of GeoSmart India 2019 conference in Hyderabad, India, highlights these roadblocks:

Lack of reliable base data: To ensure the availability of up-to-date, contextual, and innovation-fostering base data to the private sector, there is a pressing need that all the data generated by various agencies be unlocked and made accessible.

Absence of a comprehensive policy: There are a total of 17 national-level policies and rules, with four in draft stage, dealing with geospatial data, under as many as six ministries/departments, the vision document points out. It is necessary to revisit these policies and evolve an integrated geodata policy.

No clear-cut guidelines on data sharing: Despite the existence of the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy 2012, most geospatial data created in India lies in silos because there is no single platform that can then be used by all departments to collate value-added data.

Absence of a single-window clearance: With multiple departments controlling permissions, and sensitivities associated with geospatial data, the decision-making process is extremely slow. By the time clearances are issued, changes in the landscape are observed and the imagery data loses relevance, adversely affecting project implementation.

Lack of CORS network: CORS technology, which is rapidly becoming the preferred method for accurate 3D positioning across the world and forms the basis for any Smart City agenda, is yet to take off in India. Though the Survey of India has recognized the need for building a country-wide CORS network on an urgent basis, in the absence of funding, this project is likely to take a lot of time.

Are you a part of the private geospatial industry in India? What are the challenges faced by your organizations? Let us know in the comments!

Ishveena is a geospatial enthusiast and a veteran of creating and managing compelling digital content for organizations and individuals. When she is not making magic at her desk, you are likely to find her exploring nature, eating her way through life, or binge-watching funny animal videos.