Geospatial Technology: Sunrise Sector

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Value Creation Through Data Analytics and Application

This year, the Government of India introduced two path-breaking policies that will define the commercial use of drones and integrate
geospatial technology beyond space, communication, and defence. Thought leaders mark these emerging sectors as the “Sunrise Sector” that will create over “a million jobs” and leave a lasting impact on the Indian economy. And, the Indian startups are expected to “harness emerging technologies to pave the way for a thriving.

Two Path Breaking Policies

Under the Drone Rules September 2021, several approvals were abolished, and the number of forms was reduced from 25 to 5. All this to “build Trust and encourage selfcertification and non-intrusive monitoring,” says Subhasish Nath, a Young Professional, working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Further, a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme was released in Sep 2021, amounting to INR 120 crore spread over three financial years, to encourage India’s drone and drone manufacturing industry.

Subhasish NathYoung Professional ,
Ministry of Civil Aviation

In early May 2021, the Department of Science and Technology (“DST”) invited comments on its draft National Geospatial Policy
(“draft NGP”). According to Nilesh Maurya, the Corporate Development Advisor at RS Metrics, “the draft NGP aims to boost
geospatial entrepreneurship for the socioeconomic development of India. It promote the use of geospatial products and services,
generate useful insights from geospatial data and strengthen India’s geospatial infrastructure and capabilities.”

Challenges:

Though many challenges earlier faced by the drone sector have been addressed in the new policy. However, according to Nilesh, startups and entrepreneurs engaged in the geopolitical industry are still struggling with two main challenges. The first challenge is the technology itself, “it is fast changing and immensely technical. Thus, it requires a lot of understanding to create a true differentiator.” Second is the talent pool around geospatial technology. There is still a scarcity of good talent around geospatial technology across the value chains, be it hardware, mapping or data science,” says Nilesh. He further stresses, “if you ask me about the future” of geospatial
technology, “it’s immense. I believe there is not a single sector or business that will not find answers to their problems if they go through relevant geospatial data if extracted and analysed well.”

Value Chain:

India’s primer space and defence organisations ISRO and DRDO, respectively, have helped the country take long strides in “launching satellites, creating hardware, drones, and collecting data.” But the “major effort and value creation will come at the end of the chain. That includes analysing and dissecting” the geospatial data for problem-solving, says Nilesh. Thus, opening up the geospatial sector to
startups and private industry will ensure this technology has wider applications beyond space. According to Maurya, “until the last decade, geospatial technology had significant application in R&D activities. However, the advent of AI, ML, and big data analytics has led to the integration of geospatial data sets with ERP / other larger databases. As a result, in the future, all major applications related to transportation networks, E-Governance, Engineering applications, Land records, etc., will be developed around Geospatial data. This metamorphosis leads to greater employment potential as well as building national geospatial platforms.

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Nilesh Maurya  Corporate Development Advisor RS Metrics Opportunity Somnath Marthi is the Vice President at IIC Technologies. He looks after Defense, Aerospace and Geosciences. According to Somnath, “the DNA of geospatial data is “precision & accuracy”- the backbone of location-based services. According to Marthi, with the increase in demand for “location-based services” and the recent policy and guidelines on liberalisation of Geospatial data and services, “it is the right time for the startups” to develop smart solutions to help businesses in harvesting the full potential of this segment. Major Concern While these are still early days for the two sectors, the government's recent financial and policy-related moves are enough to galvanise entrepreneurs. However, the indifference of Indian investors towards Indian startups is still the major area of concern. "We are at the cusp of a startup explosion, and Indian investors need to grab this opportunity", says Vikram Singh, Co-Founder Renaissance & a Startup Evangelist Vikram Singh Co-founder Renaissance Angel Investor, Evangelist Author Vikram further adds, "there is a dire need for India to build a formidable venture capital industry funded by Indian Corporates and HNI investors." Today, domestic investors conribute a meagre 25% of the total investments attracted by Indian startups. While in Japan, domestic investors contribute nearly 80% of the total investment. Vikram sums up, Indian entrepreneurs can "create future behemoths," by exploiting opportunities around technology, as they did in the 90s, but for that to happen "the Indian investor community needs to take the plunge," while government create the right environment & institutions provide guidance. It will ensure a "thriving entrepreneurial culture", which is rightfully owed by the Indian startup ecosystem