By Sajid Malik
The geospatial sector got its watershed moment in December when the government notified the much-awaited National Geospatial Policy 2022, deregulating the sector and developing frameworks to open up vast potential for private companies in the industry.
This is the first time in India that a comprehensive framework has been laid down for the growth of the geospatial industry with a focus on developing locally relevant maps which will be instrumental in resource management and meeting the distinct needs of the Indian population.
Locally Relevant Maps are the core of smart cities and autonomous vehicles
The year 2035 has been set aside as a benchmark for the realisation of the policy’s vision to create Digital Twins of major cities and towns in India. Map infrastructure is a crucial requirement when it comes to Digital India and is an instrumental element in creating an ecosystem of National Digital Twin which supports the development of smart cities.
A digital twin, in the context of a smart city, continuously gathers data from the built environment using technologies like sensors, drones, and mobile devices to map a real-time representation. Data will be collected from sources like automobiles, buildings, infrastructure, and individuals and sent to an urban digital twin. This is strengthened even more by the data collected by IoT and smart city devices, as well as by the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics. These technologies make it possible to process and synthesise static, historical, and real-time data nearly instantly to offer insightful information. To give you an idea, the government can simulate various future scenarios of increasing usage of land and rising energy demands for faster and more reliable decision-making.
The use of accurate maps is widespread, including urban planning, resource management, disaster response, and navigation. In fact, HD Maps are critical to autonomous vehicles. These maps help advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) reach level 3 and above. HD Maps need to be coupled with advanced LiDAR sensors and perception software needed for automated driving functions.
Hyper localisation- a foundation for EVs Route Optimisation
It has to be noted that worldwide these technologies have been used extensively and have impacted their countries in a positive way. For instance, several companies in the USA have been able to develop effective routing systems for electronic vehicles using data consisting of the range of the electric vehicle, the location of the charging stations, parameters of the slow/fast charging station, and traffic congestion among other factors to propel faster adoption of EVs. The governments in developed countries have directly funded these activities or have lent significant support. With the new Geospatial policy, the Indian government has also now taken a big step towards such developments in India.
Prior to 2021, the mapping, gathering, using, and storing of geospatial data was strictly controlled. Since the industry was heavily regulated by the government, it was challenging and time-consuming for private enterprises to obtain approval from numerous ministries to map and collect data. Now all Indian entities can freely acquire, collect, prepare, and disseminate geospatial data and maps within India with no need for approval.
With a mandatory threshold of one meter horizontally and three meters vertically, the policy prohibits foreign entities from granular-level mapping. Additionally, it also restricts foreign companies from creating 360-degree street views and conducting terrestrial surveys. It must be noted that when it comes to mapping and the resources required for the same, there are complexities of Indian manpower, terrains, and technology.
For instance, to implement route optimisation for EVs in India; issues like heat, humidity, harmonics, and people would be distinct. Many local companies have been working on indigenous local-specific solutions and they have succeeded in developing a specialised market, exclusive and integrated technology, and full-stack products, and introduced continuous innovations for a strong and sustainable business model.
Several domestic companies have demonstrated that they can navigate challenges with their innovative problem-solving methods. Not only is the new Geospatial policy an important move to translate these innovations into business practices but it also demonstrates an important move by the government to leverage GIS for sustainable development.
The Author is Chairman and Managing Director of Genesys International Corporation.
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