Centre moots registry to vet geospatial data

The government is developing a national data registry that will require all agencies— state, private and academic — that collect and store geospatial data to share it with the registry. The registry will also serve as a source of “authenticated” information — meaning officials at the Survey of India would vet it for accuracy and see whether it contains information that contravenes national security.

Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the nodal coordinating agency, said the purpose of such a registry was to create a “catalogue” that would “prevent duplication” of data sets and help users locate the right agencies to source information. The registry will be a ‘meta-data’ repository: it will not actually be a source of geospatial data but will only inform about the nature of the data a service provider has. Thus, everyone from restaurant-location-service providers to hospital-location aggregators will have to comply with the directive, and the government may bring in legislation.

“Imagine being in a library [of books]. What we are now doing [is analogous] to developing a catalogue,” said P.S. Acharya, a senior official of the DST, “going ahead we should also be able to link the catalogue to the book.” The immediate focus would be on collecting meta-data [or data about data] from service-providers on “location-based services,” he said.

The DST is soliciting vendors capable of developing such a database. “Data can change over time, so the system has to be able to operate across a wide range of formats and our service must be able to source information automatically,” Mr. Acharya said.

“The NDR is proposed to be hosted for setting up a set of registries relating to different aspects of spatial and attribute-data sets provided by the nodal agencies of the NSDI (National Spatial Data Infrastructure) for correct information and processing of their data sets…,” says a DST note posted on its website.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs incurred the ire of private mapmakers and civil society after it posted a Geospatial Information Regulation Bill on its website, proposing draconian fines and jail terms for those who “wrongly depict” India’s borders. This came amid reports that terrorists had entered the Pathankot air base with the help of information from Google Maps. The Bill, which was withdrawn and now in “cold storage,” according to an official privy to its development, also contravened the National Geospatial Policy (NGP), 2016, spearheaded by the DST.

The data registry initiative, though independent of the Geospatial Bill, would also double as a clearing house for geospatial applications. “The Survey of India is the foremost authority on different kinds of maps… Such a registry would serve as a check on the quality of data,” said Bhoop Singh, an official connected with the DST’s mapping initiatives.

India’s geospatial industry covers a wide range of services, from information on remote-sensing information to personalised services, and, according to industry estimates, expected to be $20 billion market by 2025.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 3:21:47 PM |

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