[geo-discuss] Re: [Free Map] Open Access to State-collected Geospatial Data

Shekhar Krishnan shekhar at crit.org.in
Mon Aug 22 07:35:51 UTC 2005

Dear All:

Jo asked for some related links to the geo-data open access debate in  
India, and the revisions to the national mapping policies currently  
being discussed within the Government of India.

See the official press note on the new map policy approved by the  


S&T Minister Kapil Sibal's recent responses in Parliament on related  


An interview with him on the new map policy:


See also related article from Hindu Business Line at


This article gives the best outline I have so far found of the  
restrictions on civilian map production in India, though it is now  
outdated in light of the removal of the aerial photography ban and  
the revision of the map policy:




On 22 Aug 2005, at 12.34, Jo Walsh wrote:

> Jitendra, thanks for your comments.
> On Mon, Aug 22, 2005 at 09:01:09AM +0500, jitendras at vsnl.com wrote:
>> don't you think the proposed unrestricted access to government  
>> collected data will be difficult to swallow for any govt agency  
>> which has security concerns and legal constraints from military  
>> laws etc.
>> Will it not be easier to
>> 1> make data avaialable with less acuracy than so and so limit/scale
> There's nothing in the Open Access manifesto that limits that. Access
> to "generalised" data sets compiled from more accurate data - streets
> to within 10m accuracy, addresses to within <100m accuracy - would be
> adequate for a lot of web-facing, Open Source GIS projects.
> But - if we ask for, and receive, limited access, either in terms  
> of what
> rights a user has to redistribute data, or in which applications that
> data can be used; where can we then stand subsequently if those rights
> are granted, precluding the ability to freely redistribute or to  
> support
> free-to-access map services with some commercial activity?
>> 2>limit access to some areas which are sensitive
> The military concern is much more difficult; concerned with  
> *timely*, as
> well as simply *accurate*, geodata. Even the NASA-published Landsat
> data which is so useful to the appearance and utility of  
> OpenStreetmap and
> the Mumbai Free Map, is 5 years old in many regions; which in  
> megacities
> undergoing massive spatial change is not really useful at all.
> It's an ongoing absurdity though, that ISRO has much-better-than- 
> Landsat
> calibre data which is unreleasable locally despite economic and social
> benefit; that fights over intellectual property rights in geodata are
> impeding civic planning, 'e-government', traffic monitoring, etc
> applications from being developed - even 'in-house' by government  
> agencies
> (c.f.: http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1550761,00.html )
> The Open Access statement tries to emphasises the economic benefits of
> open access; cost and admin overhead savings to local government and
> government-funded bodies of all kinds, as well as reducing costs to
> commercial enterprises and enabling public domain research.
>> 3> so and so data is already available to all from so and so  
>> source . hence it makes no sense to stop legally using tis when  
>> illegal users already enjoy the benfit of use
>> 4>such and such data is already in commercial sales and hence it  
>> is not meaning ful to restrict data but may be put a price on it.
> Forgive my misapprehensions, but as i understand it, in India there is
> a more restricted attitude towards data distribution at a high level,
> and a rather more relaxed one locally, than obtains in Europe,
> particularly in the UK where IP rights are enforced paranoically.
> Verifiably 'fake' streets and postal codes are introduced into
> national mapping data in order to detect unlicensed data  
> redistribution.
> In this unsustainable model, the social and economic benefits of open
> access to data at a intra-government level are simply ignored.
>> Now tha indian cabinet has created a classification of data and a
>> large part is being made open , these issues acquire urgency and
>> require balanced advocacy.
> I'd apprecate any online references you could provide to this new
> policy.
> -jo
> _____
> Mumbai Free Map
> Community GIS Discussion List
> freemap at lists.crit.org.in
> http://www.freemap.in
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Shekhar Krishnan
9, Supriya, 2nd Floor
Plot 709, Parsee Colony Road no.4
Dadar, Mumbai 400014


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