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Department of Science and Technology Releases New Guidelines for Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services

Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog

Earlier today, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) released its new Guidelines for Acquiring and Producing Geospatial Data and Geospatial Services Data (Guidelines).

Recognising the potential value that can be unlocked from a liberalised regulatory framework for the acquisition and production of geospatial data, the Government, through the new Guidelines, aims to enable the availability of comprehensive, accurate and granular geospatial data for applications across a variety of sectors including e-commerce, delivery and logistics, urban transportation, agriculture and mining.

The Guidelines have also been positioned as an effort to reduce India’s dependence on foreign resources and mapping technology, and promote the creation of “Aatma Nirbhar”, locally available and locally relevant Geospatial datasets. Resultantly, the Guidelines, maintain a clear distinction between Geospatial Data that can be created and processed by Indian Entities, as opposed to foreign entities, or foreign owned or controlled Indian entities.

What Preceded the Guidelines?

Prior to the issuance of the new Guidelines, mapping and Geospatial data have been subject to three main policy instruments, the first being the National Mapping Policy, 2005 (NMP), which designates the Survey of India (SoI) as the Department in charge of the creation, and licensing of two distinct series of maps: the Defence Series Maps (DSM) and Open Series Maps (OSM). The second relevant policy in this regard, is the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011 (RSDP), which regulated the use of remote sensing data by designating the Department of Sciences (DoS)/ Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) as the nodal Departments for the implementation of the policy. The third set of rules relate to aerial surveys and are regulated through the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) which require prior approval of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for creating aerial geospatial surveys.[1]

Additionally, various provisions under the law are also applicable regarding accurate depiction of India’s political borders, and restricting mapping of vulnerable areas, vulnerable points, and border territories of India.

Taken together, the regulatory and policy environment governing geospatial data was often characterised as being highly fragmented, restrictive, and uncertain. Previous attempts at harmonising the framework, such as the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, were met with severe criticism for restricting the regulatory environment further and adding to the costs of acquiring geospatial data and providing geospatial data services.[2]

However, there has been a change in the stance of the Government ever since, as evidenced by the forward-looking statements made by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in May 2020 as a part of the Government’s Self-Reliant India related stimulus announcements. On 16 May 2020, it was announced that the Government would work towards a liberal geospatial data policy for providing remote sensing data to Indian technology entrepreneurs.[3]

The new Guidelines appear to be a step towards realising the stated objective of creating a liberal geospatial data policy, that enables easier acquisition of geospatial and remote sensing data to Indian technology entrepreneurs and start-ups.

What Do the New Guidelines Provide?

  • A condition requiring all map and geospatial data of accuracy higher than the threshold values to be stored and processed in India.
  • A condition requiring all map and geospatial data of accuracy higher than the threshold values to be stored and processed only in domestic clouds or servers that are physically located within India.
  • A condition restricting the access of map and geospatial data of accuracy higher than the threshold values to be access by foreign companies, and foreign owned or controlled companies, in any other manner apart from API-based licenses. Moreover, such map/geospatial data may not be stored on the licensee company’s servers, and the re-use and resale of such data is prohibited.

What Are the Key Takeaways?

Based on a preliminary review, NASSCOM believes that the Guidelines will:

However, NASSCOM continues to engage with the industry to better understand the implications of the Guidelines on foreign companies, and foreign owned or controlled companies who currently provide geospatial data services in India.

The restrictions imposed under the Guidelines with regard to storage and processing of geospatial data, and participation in certain modes of survey (including terrestrial mobile survey, street view survey and survey of territorial waters)  may impact certain foreign/ foreign owned or controlled companies, which rely on Indian remote sensing data for providing their services, particularly, if they were capturing data beyond the specified level of granularity and accuracy prescribed under the Guidelines.

As a part of its ongoing engagement on this subject, we will shortly be reaching out to stakeholders to understand the possible implications and benefits of the new Guidelines. Should you have any questions or concerns relating to the new Guidelines, please reach out to


[1]     Centre for Internet Society, “Legal Challenges to Mapping in India”; Available at URL:

[2]     Anuj S., “How the Controversial Geospatial Bill Snowballed”, The Wire, 7 March 2017; Available at URL:

[3]     Ministry of Finance, “Finance Minister announces new horizons of growth; structural reforms across Eight Sectors paving way for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat”; 16 May 2020; Available at URL:

The post Department of Science and Technology Releases New Guidelines for Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services appeared first on NASSCOM Community |The Official Community of Indian IT Industry.

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