Explained | All about the National Geospatial Policy 2022

The National Geospatial Policy lists ambitious targets to be achieved by 2035, but will the policy be enough to revolutionise the field?

Updated - January 26, 2023 01:42 pm IST

Published - January 10, 2023 04:56 pm IST

Image for representation

Image for representation

The story so far: After making waves with liberalisation in the field of geospatial data in 2021, the government notified the 2022 National Geospatial Policy on December 28, 2022, for implementation with immediate effect. The policy was earlier approved by the Union Cabinet on December 16.

What is the National Geospatial Policy?

The new Geospatial Policy will replace the National Map Policy, 2005. It aims to strengthen the location-centric industry to support the information economy. It uses guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and related services including maps, issued by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in February 2021, as its foundation. The DST guidelines deregulated the geospatial sector and liberalised the acquisition, production, and access of data in the field. Building on it, the 2022 policy lays down a framework for the development of a geospatial ecosystem, including goals and strategies to achieve it.

Why the move to liberalise India’s geospatial data is important | The Hindu In Focus Podcast

What is geospatial data?

Geospatial data are descriptions of events or occurrences with a location on or near the surface of the earth. This location can be static – relating to earthquakes, vegetation, etc., or dynamic – a person walking on the road, a package being tracked, etc.

The location data obtained is usually combined with other characteristic attributes or recorded parameters to provide meaningful insights in the form of geospatial data.


The National Geospatial Policy lists the following targets to be achieved before 2035.

Roadmap to 2035

What is the government hoping to achieve with the policy?

With the National Geospatial Policy, the government aims to employ geospatial technology and data towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The policy emphasises the importance of locally available and locally relevant maps and geospatial data.

It also aims to support innovation and creation in the field, “bridging the geospatial data divide”. It seeks to create long-term, sustainable geospatial information management through capacity development and education programmes.

The government hopes that the policy will encourage open standards, open data and platforms. The policy is structured to contribute towards the democratisation of data — Survey of India (SoI) topographic data and other geospatial data produced using public funds wouldbe treated as common goods and made easily available. While the SoI will play the lead role in maintaining high resolution/high spatial accuracy orthoimagery (geometrically corrected image to remove geographical and optical distortion), actual collection and collation of data will be “increasingly done with private sector participation”.

Liberalisation in the field has the potential to support the government’s ease of doing business policy. The private sector is expected to predominantly cater to geospatial/location data-related needs and requirements of citizens. It will also play a key role in the creation and maintenance of geospatial and mapping infrastructures.

What do experts say?

“Landmark reform”

Sajid Malik, Chairman and Managing Director of Genesys International Corporation, calls the policy a “landmark reform allowing the geospatial industry to grow”.

“So far, there was no clear policy, and private sector was unsure of what can and cannot be done in the field,” Mr. Malik said. He also believes that the policy recognises the importance of the geospatial industry.

The company also creates national digital twins of cities and towns, an exercise which Mr. Malik believes has a big role to play in the sustainability of our cities.

“Welcome move, but long way to go”

Geospatial data enthusiast Devdatta Tengshe says that the policy is a mere wish list of what the government wants to achieve but there are no fixed timelines or responsibilities to achieve those goals. “The National Geospatial Policy is a good step in the right direction but is very abstract and generic in nature,” Mr. Tengshe says.

Local maps versus Google Maps

According to Mr. Tengshe, the e-commerce and delivery industry will be one of the main beneficiaries of deregulation in the field of geospatial data in India. Currently, Google Maps is among the biggest international companies catering to requirements in the field. “Why should Google Maps be the one providing (geospatial) data to us? They are not answerable to me, my municipality is,” Mr. Tengshe says, supporting the idea of locally-prepared maps over those provided by an international technology company. Also, any developer or application who uses Google Maps has to pay a huge fee to Google, he adds.

This view also resonated with Chinmay Shaligram, organiser of a community of geospatial data enthusiasts in Pune. “Using data from Google Maps is expensive, and open data is not always reliable,” he says.

“Location data is now beyond maps”

Almost all bigger players in the industry use location data in some way, says Mr. Shaligram. “The applications of and insights you can get from geospatial data are a lot more, which is why it is impossible to control by a single agency,” he adds, favouring liberalisation in the field of geospatial data.

He calls the policy a “step in the right direction”, because geospatial data was so far tightly controlled by the government. “While the rest of the world has evolved in the field of geospatial data, India has been stuck in the past, with no clear direction on how to proceed,” he says.

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