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India Relaxes Regulations on Geospatial Data

Image of India Relaxes Government Regulations on Geospatial Data
India Relaxes Government Regulations on Geospatial Data

On 15th February this year the government of India published its New Geospatial Data Guideline.  The news left all working in geospatial and related sectors, and especially in high-resolution data, totally awestruck and full of disbelief.

Collection and dissemination of high-resolution data, particularly aerial photographs and LiDAR have been highly regulated in India. When I was pursuing my doctoral research in LiDAR in the UK in 1998, I could see the utility of the technology to India and started pursuing government and private enterprises to invest in this area.  The idea and possibilities excited all, but none would dare to invest considering uncertainty due to unambiguous and restrictive regulations.  I recall when I tried to obtain LiDAR data of an Indian city for my research from a University I was told that data were kept inside a specially built vault and one could not copy data, process data, view data or run a software on data for the fear of violating security concerns.

So was the case with a few LiDAR campaigns that were carried out during early 2000s.  The only agency that started capturing LiDAR data in India around 2007 was a government undertaking – NRSC.  However, an owner of the data was oath-bounded not to share data with any and submit data safety certificates every year.  A few LiDAR companies including Geokno started capturing aerial LiDAR data and using these for problem solving since 2014 onward.  A large number of projects have been done in these years and the utility of the technology has been established by these companies in several verticals.

Through a lot of education and information dissemination the user community in India is now fully aware of the uses of LiDAR.  However, carrying out an aerial LiDAR and photographic survey remained the toughest task due to regulations. The advantage of speed offered by aerial LiDAR was marred by the array of permissions that would take 4 to 6 or more months to come.  There are instances where permission was denied even at the last stages.  Similarly, restrictions on sharing data over public platform curtailed the mobile or terrestrial LiDAR industry.

For the complete article by Dr. Bharat Lohani, Professor, IIT Kanpur & Founding Director, Geokno India Pvt. Ltd. CLICK HERE.

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