Geospatial technology is a key enabler of India’s economic growth, hinged on a steady digital transformation. The technology provides a broad array of tools and platforms to derive orderly data out of chaotic information for effective decision-making, implementation, and monitoring of interventions.
Advancements in Geospatial technologies have seen a massive disruption of late with the miniaturization of sensors, increased analytical capabilities, integration of AI/ML capabilities, availability of cloud computing platforms, and so on. The technology unlocks tremendous potential for enhancing productivity, cost and time savings, and resilience across economic sectors. These, supported by progressive policies related to Geospatial Data, Remote Sensing Data, and Drones, are making geospatial data availability and utility more ubiquitous.
Location information is an integral part of the modern digital ecosystem and critical for unlocking economic, social and environmental opportunities for sustainable growth and development of the country. It is critical to the success of modern industry offering location-based services such as e-Commerce, delivery and logistics and urban transport. It is also essential for more traditional sectors of the economy such as agriculture, construction and development and mines and minerals.
As per the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, India’s total domestic Geospatial market is set to reach INR 1 lakh crores by 2030. With the enabling policy environment, and the gradual transition of the industry to offer services and solutions to the worldwide market, more than 1 lakh jobs will be available in both Government and private sectors in the Indian domestic Geospatial market by 2030.
As per Geospatial Artha Report 2022,
- Domestic Market: Defence and intelligence, transport infrastructure, urban development, and utilities account for up to 55% share of the geospatial market in India, according to the Geospatial Artha Report 2021. Non-traditional sectors such as banking and finance, insurance, supply chain, logistics, etc., are new areas where the adoption of geospatial technologies is rising.
- International Trade: The export market for geospatial services and solutions is estimated to rise to approximately INR 13,100 crore by 2025. As the geospatial market increases in the country driven by impetus provided by government projects, technology mandates, FDI approvals, and technology innovations, there is set to be a significant increase in the consumption of geospatial data and technology export from India.
- Government Investment: At present, the government is spending heavily on developing in-house GIS software and data integration platforms and sourcing hardware equipment for centrally and state-allocated projects such as SVAMITVA, National Hydrology Project (NHP), National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), etc. Budget 2023-24 has increased allocations to Space Technology, Applications & Satellite systems by 16%-21.5%.
The Indian Geospatial industry has experienced a much-needed transformation in recent years, with various policies impacting the industry directly or indirectly being amended and liberalized. The release of the ‘Geospatial Data Guidelines 2021’ and the “National Geospatial Policy 2022” by the Government of India continues to create a conducive climate for the use of Geospatial data and technologies in the country. The industry is also expanding rapidly with technology adoption in national missions like SVAMITVA, PM Gati Shakti, Smart Cities Mission, and Namami Gange, to name a few.
Major Sectoral Applications of Geospatial Technologies
Geospatial technology is a key driver for sustainable development across major economic sectors, in tandem with cutting-edge innovations in Building Information Modelling (BIM), the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, and Big Data. The wider adoption of the technology supported by policy and mandates, expert partnerships, on-ground training, and encouragement of new systems and technologies is boosting sectoral applications further.
Multiple states have implemented state-level GIS programs integrating all state departments, workflows, planning and governance initiatives, including digitisation of land records (Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, etc.), GIS infrastructure for urban transformation initiatives (Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, etc.), GIS-based master planning, mapping water utility networks (Madhya Pradesh), GIS-based state-level water data centres for watershed management, aquifer mapping, surface and groundwater management (Karnataka), geo-enabling health MIS for Ayushman Bharat mission, etc.
National agencies like NDMA, and central and state government ministries are deploying and using GIS for managing disasters and health emergencies. GIS hubs have been set up across the country for seamless engagement and communications.
Geospatial technology is being used to facilitate speedier planting, customised crops and harvesting. Modern agriculture practice involves geospatial technologies, such as GIS, remote sensing, GPS, etc. to improve production and profitability.
As per the Geospatial Artha Report, 2022, the India geospatial market for the agriculture sector is estimated to be INR 52.39 crores in 2022 and is forecasted to grow to be approx. INR 67.65 crores in 2025. Further, the GIS and Spatial Analytics market is forecasted to increase from INR 16.33 crore in 2022 to INR 21.13 crore in 2025.
The steady adoption of Geospatial technologies for smarter, data-driven urban planning & development in the country is seeing increasing support from various government, private and academic institutions in India. City planners are leveraging advanced digital mapping and location intelligence to build a solid foundation for planning, implementation and management. Real-time, accurate and precise Geospatial data is boosting instant decision-making for planned interventions.
MoHUA’s Smart Cities Mission proposed a Program for the Improvement of Property Tax Collection-Widening of the Tax Base for cities for which a sample survey of properties and computerization of existing records in a GIS-enabled platform was conducted. Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCCs) have been rolled out in all 100 cities with the integration of real-time data from IoT sensors, crowdsourced data, data from social media platforms, drones, roads and traffic sensors, smart grids, as well as information from various line departments to operate & manage multiple city service operations including real-time monitoring & improvement of service delivery.
Information on food distribution centres, shelter homes and kitchens was collated and made accessible via Google Maps. Geospatial Management Information System (GMIS) – a Smart Cities Dashboard – was created including data of 100 cities, 6000 projects worth Rs. 2,00,000 crores launched to collate information from varied sources, compare how cities and states are performing, monitor progress and even predict when certain projects will reach specific milestones. The India Urban Observatory is operationalised as a GIS-enabled interactive showcase of collective insights on cities over various parameters.
MoHUA’s AMRUT Mission undertook a sub-scheme of Preparation of Master Plans using GIS launched with 3 major components: Geospatial Database Generation, Masterplan Formulation, and Capacity Building. An Urban Geodatabase at a scale of 1:4000 was created for 104 towns till 2020-21. Sub-Scheme of Local Area Planning & Town Planning Scheme was launched on a pilot basis for 25 cities, involving detailed area survey, mapping of physical & social infrastructure on a GIS platform, land use mapping, and GPR assessment. AMRUT 2.0 proposes GIS-based master plans of Class-II Towns with a population of 50,000 – 99,999.
The Swachh Bharat Mission uses Bharat Maps – a multi-scale, multi-resolution, multi-layer GIS platform built on a service-oriented framework by National Informatics Centre (NIC) to integrate API-based OGC-compliant (WMS, WFS, etc.) map services with e-Governance workflows. Self-attested geo-tagged photographs are being used for the final verification of constructed household toilets, along with the applicant. Photographs uploaded to SBM (Urban) MIS and monitored by ULBs and States. A partnership between MoHUA and Google to map all public /community toilets on Google Maps, along with unique IDs given to CT/PTs. Compendium and dynamic GIS portal launched by MoHUA showcasing innovative practices for effective solid waste management (SWM) practices from across India on 2 Oct 2020. Swachh Survekshan entirely integrated with GIS in 2021 with two distinct components of data collection through a mobile app and monitoring complete project progress.
Indian Railways is using GIS for national-level asset management and drone-based surveys for mapping the infrastructure & assets. IR has deployed a real-time train information system (RTIS) in all of their locomotives, according to the GNSS Asia 2020 Report.
Road expansion, project monitoring and planning new connectivity as a part of the Bharatmala project; including the development of border roads. Modernization of ports, connectivity, land asset management and monetization and improving port efficiency and handling capacities as a part of the Sagarmala project.
As part of the IPDS programme, India is moving towards complete national electrification with the mapping of all transmission and distribution assets. India is using GIS to ensure fibre connectivity at village block and gram panchayat level; mapping of villages for last mile connectivity as a part of BBNL program; Private organizations like Reliance Jio have built the entire 4G network on GIS; and now they are using GIS for 3D mapping of cities for 5G network planning.
GIS is an integral part of various water sector initiatives, from the perspective of not only planning the network from ‘source to Tap’ but also being effectively used for water resources management and the Clean Ganga Mission.
For the National Hydrology Project, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) is conducting hydrological studies using satellite data and geospatial techniques. The NHP-Bhuvan Portal was also launched to store and disseminate information regarding the initiatives undertaken by the NRSC under this project.
Geospatial technologies have revolutionized conventional surveying methods, transforming topographic surveys to determine precise locations in any weather conditions at any time of the day.
The Digital India Land Records Programme (DILRMP) has been conceptualized as a major system and reform initiative by the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India under the ‘Digital India’ flagship programme. The chief components of the programme include a) Computerization of land records, b) Survey/resurvey and updating of the survey and settlement records, c) Computerization of registration, d) Modern record rooms and/or land management centres at Tehsil/ Taluka/ Circle/ Block levels, e) Training and capacity building for core GIS, f) Legal changes, and g) Programme management.
The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) is a unique, 14-digit alphanumeric identifier assigned to each land parcel in a geographic area. Part of the DILRMP initiative, the ULPIN uniquely identifies each land parcel, including its boundaries, ownership, and other attributes. It can also be used to link all relevant information about a land parcel, such as cadastral maps, land ownership records, and land use information.
The SVAMITVA scheme was launched to provide integrated property validation solutions to rural India, enabling village households to use their immovable property as a financial asset for taking loans and strengthening rural infrastructure by institutionalizing the asset and tax collection register. The scheme outlines undertaking drone surveys of villages, preparing property maps, and maps of other Gram Panchayat and community assets like village roads, ponds, canals, open spaces, schools, Anganwadi, Health sub-centres, etc. and base Records of Rights of property upon these maps.
GIS is being used in the digital transformation of the census in India – GIS is being used to create enumeration boundaries and revenue boundaries.
National mapping agencies like SOI are building geospatial infrastructure for service orchestration e.g., dissemination of GIS data and services via G2G and G2C portals via SOI’s GeoHub portal; Development of national level portal for water (WRIS, India Water Tool), surface and ground level water data (by CWC, CGWB) and forest management (e-Greenwatch).
Geospatial Technologies have great potential for success especially when it comes to areas of disease surveillance, monitoring health trends and implementation of health-related Policies.
As per Geospatial Artha Report, 2022, the geospatial market in the Healthcare sector is estimated to be approx. INR 13.47 crore in 2022 and is forecasted to grow to INR 18.44 crore in 2025. The health sector has witnessed significant growth owing to the use of GIS and Spatial Analytics tools in the post-liberalised Policy regime.
AGI member Genesys International is currently building Pan-India health infrastructure, mapping spanning hospitals, health care centres, diagnostic centres, chemist shops etc. with a repository of 10 lakh KMs of street map imagery of India.
From the President’s Desk
Mr. Pramod Kaushik, President AGI, Managing Director Hexagon: “With support from government initiatives like National Geospatial Policy, the industry has advanced in technologies not limiting to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital twin with IOT, ICT and Operational Technology (OT), Advanced visualisation in VR/AR/MR, Drone Mapping, Climate Resilience and precision Agriculture, GeoBIM, and so on. Drawing from industry feedback, global best practices, IGIF and the SDGs, the Policy is going to spur innovation and accelerate the growth of the Indian Geospatial ecosystem.”