In any developing country, there cannot be an improvement in the science base without open access data. Countries need the infrastructure to support the positive change and improvements they wish to create. A 1982 UNESCO report states that “assimilation of scientific and technological information is an essential precondition for progress in developing countries”.

In many lower and lower-middle income countries, finding and using open access data is often challenging. It may take a complicated and tiresome request process to get downloadable data from the government (as sometimes the data may even come in paper-based form, which makes it extremely hard to analyze). 

Abhay Swarup Mittal – CEO of SkyMap Global, was a guest speaker at the Geospatial Artha Summit held last week on 10th May 2018. 

“India needs the infrastructure and the framework to support the major technological change that is taking place. Access to information is a huge barrier faced by companies and this prevents India from reaching its massive potential. India has developed tremendously over the past few years but when it starts to fully harness the potential of geospatial capabilities, fast-tracked development will take place.”

There are currently many challenges that are preventing such opportunities from being tapped.

  1. Issues of privacy and data anonymization are a serious concern.
  2. There is also the lack of standardized data collection formats across the country, and this makes it very hard to make sense of huge volumes of data. 
  3. Infrastructure to support efficient data collection, management and processing have to be strengthened. 

There is a serious demand for geospatial data for visualizing and communicating issues as they exist on the ground. Due to the conservative map policy of the government and lack of interoperability in sharing this data, there is no official map data available for enterprises and organizations in the country. This has been a huge obstacle for business in the geospatial industry in India and has discouraged a discourse about better planning, due to which governments are now taking remedial steps. 

A Dream

Prime Minister Modi said his dream is “to make India a developed country in one generation”. However, to support India’s Prime Minister’s detailed vision for economic development, India needs to fully accept and embrace technological capabilities and invest heavily in the IT sector of the country. Remote sensing technology, once leveraged, can automate processes and give authorities a bird’s eye view of activities happening within the nation. This will be crucial in the development of the nation. From coastline monitoring to 3D city modelling to disaster management, GIS capabilities can be applied anywhere. 

 According to Ann Winblad, open data has become the new ‘oil’. Over the past few years, open government data has created a lot of excitement for its potential to empower citizens and local businesses. With the help of open data, India can unlock significant economic value. 

Only after an efficient and effective flow of data has been achieved in a country can it hope to really boost its economic situation. India is still far behind the developed (and some developing) countries in leveraging remote sensing and geospatial capabilities. Geospatial capabilities can be applied in a wide variety of fields. For more information on remote sensing and its various use cases in a multitude of industries, please click here

The Open Government Data Platform (OGD) of India is a single-point of access to Datasets/Apps in the open format published by the government of India. It intends to increase transparency in the functioning of government and also open more avenues of innovation within the country. To visit this portal, please click here.