Kapil Sibal addressed the Geospatial World Forum for the third time, outlining the importance of geospatial technology to the common man. He asserted that it’s the information that is so important, with the technology as an enabler. He mentioned that it’s an accident of history that he heads three ministries concurrently – Earth Science, Information Technology and Communications, Human Resource Development – as it’s geospatial technology that brings all three together.
Sibal outlined the broad-based initiatives that are currently underway regarding the mapping of the country, and
the expansion of fiber optics to connect all the villages in the country, with the last mile via mobile technology. Sibal sees the need for geospatial technology in 3D for every citizen of the country, as it’s an enormously empowering thing.
He asserted that technology is an enabler that is meant for public welfare, and there is a need to reach the normal man on the street for him to be empowered. The mobile communications sector is seen as an example as it has expanded exponentially from 10,000 users in 2003 to more than 750 million users today.
The three public goods that are needed for geospatial technologies to prosper are:
- the information, geospatial or otherwise, must reach people at a reasonable price (telephone calls have come down broadly in price, with expansion of technology the ordinary person can use the technology at a reasonable price)
- the industry must be given an environment to prosper with competition and enough margin to make money to continue to empower people
- the government needs enough revenue to continue to invest in the sector with commercial uses and direct benefit through licensing. Any policy for geospatial must meet these public goods.
Sibal also asserts that 70 to 80% of data should be in public domain, taking into some consideration the issue of security, but not closing the information behind walls. There is growing movement for a national geospatial data policy that licenses users, empowering the industry, and providing a national body to administer data quality and provide for security.
Sibal closed by saying that geospatial technologies have to be integrated into every aspect of human activity because the information is crucial when we are out of our houses, when we’re within our office, and to connect with the rest of the world. We need to communicate and involve people to reduce the technicality of geospatial technologies. India will be the breeding ground for advancements with unimaginable opportunities for public good and commerce.