On December 28, 2022, Indian Government, in a marquee move, published the National Geospatial Policy (NGP) with tremendous support from all stakeholders and a stellar vision to accelerate cutting-edge geospatial innovation in India. After months of negotiation and discussion, the Union Cabinet finally gave the nod of approval in a meeting on December 16, 2022, with immediate effect. Recognised as a revolutionary move for the private industry, the NGP is being widely appreciated by leaders in the industry.
Welcoming the policy, Chandru Badrinarayanan, COO, of Blue Sky Analytics stated, “At Blue Sky Analytics, we are extremely excited by the release of India’s Geospatial policy. It is visionary, revolutionary and all-encompassing to say at the least.”
With the vision to "make India a world leader in global geospatial space", the 13-year guideline envisages to promote India's geospatial data industry by developing a national framework that focuses on innovation and involves greater participation of the private sector. In the notification, the Ministry of Science and Technology stated that the policy “seeks to develop geospatial infrastructures, skill and knowledge, standards, businesses, promote innovation, and strengthen the national and sub-national arrangements for generation and management of geospatial information”.
Key Step in Boosting Private Sector Growth
The policy is hailed to be a key step in boosting private-sector growth. The notification states in this regard, “Needs and requirements of the citizens related to various Geospatial/location-based solutions will predominantly be serviced by the private sector, with SoI (Survey of India) and nodal ministries/agencies of various Geospatial Data Themes in a facilitative role. The Private Sector will play a key role in the creation and maintenance of Geospatial and mapping Infrastructures, innovations and process improvements and monetisation of Geospatial data.”
The NGP 2022 also gives a great signal to the geospatial industry.
Abhilasha Purwar, CEO, Blue Sky Analytics, stated “The National Geospatial Policy of India is a major step towards unlocking the immense potential of geospatial data analytics in the country. By creating a comprehensive policy framework that focuses on innovation and greater involvement of the private sector, the policy sets to rest a lot of grey areas and uncertainties in the geospatial industry. Additionally, the policy focus on enabling faster dissemination of raw data for variety of value-added services and innovation, is a huge impetus and assurance to the private sector.
At Blue Sky Analytics, we are particularly excited to be part of India’s Geospatial Revolution. As one of the pioneers in turning raw satellite data into value-added climate intelligence services and this policy provides much more support to us. We are committed to helping India make the most of this powerful resource and become a world leader in the global geospatial space.”
“The government will also increasingly engage with the industry when it comes to policy-making, similar to countries in the West. Moreover, soon we will also have our own satellite constellation. We already have many players in the market, such as Pixxel & GalaxyEye. This policy would not only help them but will also enable downstream players like us in the satellite data processing sector,” said Kshitij Purwar, CTO, Blue Sky Analytics.
Notable Features of the Policy that Promotes Private Sector Growth
The NGP is notable for taking into consideration the suggestions put forth by private companies and academia. It thus incorporates several progressive efforts that promote the growth of the private sector, notable among which are:
- Ease of Doing Business:
By responding to calls for employing regulations in a manner that is conducive for private players, the NGP promotes Ease of Doing Business in the country.
Chandru says “This policy contains several provisions that assist enterprises such as Blue Sky Analytics and others in the ecosystem across the country to expand. Additionally, it enables companies to recognise the value of remote sensing data and incorporate it in their analyses”.
It also provides support to startups by undertaking initiatives to promote the incubation of ideas, which it claims will “enable leapfrogging from outdated regulations, technologies, and processes, bridging the Geospatial digital divide and capitalising on the opportunities arising out of continually evolving Technology.”
- Democratization of Data:
One of the key objectives listed to be achieved by 2035 is the democratization of data. It states that the “Survey of India (SoI) topographic data and other Geospatial Data produced using public funds would be treated as a common good and be made easily available.” Kshitij finds this to be the most notable feature of the new policy, which he believes will completely revolutionise the industry and enable all kinds of organisations including ours to maximise the potential of this valuable resource, which is underutilised satellite data.
- Geospatial Enterprise:
The policy also promises to create an enabling ecosystem for the industry and academia. Towards this end, Geospatial Technology Parks will be established to provide businesses with the required facilities to spur growth and innovation.
Speaking on the relevance of this initiative, Kshitij stated, “The point that excites me the most is the establishment of geospatial technological parks, which can strengthen the industry and help in establishing a prosperous community. It can also provide opportunities for collaboration between different players in the industry, including government agencies, academia, and private companies. Additionally, these parks can help to attract and consolidate talent, fostering a community of professionals who are dedicated to advancing the field of geospatial technology”.
Roping in the private sector not only benefits companies but also helps the government achieve its ambitious goals. For instance, one of the goals articulated in the notification states that the government aims to develop “High resolution/accuracy Bathymetric Geospatial Data of inland waters and sea surface topography of shallow/deep seas - to support Blue Economy” by 2035. At Blue Sky Analytics, we are already doing this with water datasets. Our services can be of tremendous help in this regard. Thus, by encouraging private participation, the Ministry will be able to meet its goals faster.
The Right Step in Boosting India’s Economic Development
The policy comes at a time when the geospatial market is growing at a rapid pace with the global market estimated to be worth about $17 billion. India’s geospatial economy too is anticipated to surpass Rs. 63,000 crores by 2025 at a rate of 12.8%. By recognising the market's potential and considering how geospatial technology has applications in almost every aspect of the economy, the NGP holds tremendous potential to support India’s economic development.
Speaking of the economic potential the policy could unlock, Abhilasha stated “By making geospatial data easily accessible and encouraging its use, the National Geospatial Policy could help India unlock its immense potential and drive economic growth.”
Chandru also believes that the policy will play an important role in minimising climate risks which is essential to ensure economic growth. He stated:
“The Geospatial policy is also a key element in India’s march towards a $5 trillion and a $10 trillion economy as it endeavours to unleash the potential of India’s natural assets through streamlined data management, democratizing the data, encouraging and leveraging the latest and upcoming technologies in Earth Observation and Remote sensing. All this would lead to better and efficient risk management of climate change which according to Deloitte, if left unchecked, is projected to cost the global economy US$178 trillion over the next 50 years and India's economy US$35 trillion by 2070. The Geo-spatial policy provides direction, depth and a firm path for larger private sector participation and new age start ups like Blue Sky Analytics, adding multipurpose value to geospatial data using AI & ML.”
Apart from being lauded for creating a nurturing ecosystem for innovation, the policy is also expected to develop an easier operating environment for foreign companies and pave the way for more foreign investments.
Further, the policy lists several initiatives which can help in boosting economic development. Notable among this is the effort to promote geospatial education and skill development, which aims to to impart geospatial education to bridge the resource gap.
According to Kshitij, “this initiative will ensure that companies have a steady supply of geospatial analysts and scientists who can join projects quickly. Industry inputs in training will greatly enhance employability and productivity by reducing training time. Furthermore, offering specialization courses will address the issue of brain drain in India, helping to retain knowledge and skills within the country. It will encourage talented students to study and stay in India rather than go abroad for education, where only a small percentage of them typically return.”
Paves the way for innovative climate solutions
While geospatial technology has applications in innumerable fields, it could specifically play a pivotal role in managing the ongoing climate crisis. The policy thus provides India the right support and structure to develop innovative climate solutions.
Speaking of the need to leverage this opportunity, Abhilasha says: “India has a unique opportunity not only to manage economic growth and sustainable development, but also take the lead in climate action by providing innovative solutions. Geospatial data and technology have tremendous applications in the climate and environment sector, including monitoring, reporting, verification, prediction, risk management, and disaster management. With recent advances in artificial intelligence, solutions like carbon stock measurement can now be provided quickly and at a lower cost than traditional methods., thereby transforming the global carbon markets and, in particular, enabling developers and sellers in the global south.
The climate economy today is similar to where the internet economy was 20 years ago, and there is an opportunity for India to create innovative solutions for the world. The National Geospatial Policy will be a major catalyst for this, and I congratulate and thank the Indian Government for its forward-thinking approach. We are excited to be part of India’s geospatial revolution and are committed to helping the country make the most of this powerful resource.”
The NGP is a momentous step that will enable various startups, organizations, academics, and other members in the ecosystem to bring forth the maximum potential of geospatial data and technology for the greater good of the planet, society, and economy. By encouraging innovation and creating opportunities for creative solutions, the policy holds tremendous promise for the country.
At Blue Sky Analytics, we are certain that this policy will enable us to significantly contribute to the goal of making India a world leader in the global geospatial space. We are excited to be part of this journey and look forward to playing an active role in India's geospatial revolution.
Please find the edited National Geospatial Policy 2022 here, with highlighted portions which will have a positive imperative for our business.