The Internet bug has hit India in a big way. On any day, the large advertisements in any leading newspaper are from dotcom companies. It’s getting to a point where if you are not in dotcom, you are a notcom.
How does the GIS community react to the dotcom revolution? All over the world, the Internet has been providing organisations with new ways of sharing, accessing and distributing data. It has resulted in a new breed of map services for e-governance, e-services, e-commerce, etc. This is resulting in convenience to the users, making life easier for them for accessing geo-referenced information.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers study estimates that the total e-commerce business in India will grow from Rs. 12 crore in 1998 to Rs. 40,000 crore by 2003. The value of Indian infotech companies on the stock markets has reached about 10 per cent of India’s GDP. There are more than 23,000 India-centric websites and two or three India web businesses are being formed every day. As 80-90% of any data is geographic in nature, the potential for these sites using maps for improving their services is enormous. On an average, an investment of even 10% of the projected e-commerce money for map-enabling the websites will attract an investment of around Rs. 4,000 crore to the GIS industry, which is nearly equal to the amount spent by the country every year on acquiring and maintaining various types of geographic data. And this figure is much higher than the current industry size of nearly Rs. 100 crore.
With that kind of revenue coming in, mapping organisations need not be government-dependent for funds and projects. Instead, they will not only help the government reduce the fiscal deficit in its budget but also start earning money for it. In addition, this will provide tremendous opportunity for the growth of the Indian GIS industry, which may even build up capabilities in developing applications and products and just not remain tied up in data conversion work.
But coming to the ground realities, while the whole world is abuzz with the dotcom boom, the geographic data sector in India has remained aloof to the e-revolution. There is no dearth of talent and companies who would like to use the net for delivering maps, enabling their existing portals or vortals for providing value-added services to the users. Despite this, the GIS sector is yet to keep in step with the Internet boom. The demand in this area is so huge that we are deluged with calls to know, if map publishing on the web is legal in our country. Frankly, I don’t know. A clarification in this regard by the policymakers (whoever they are!) will certainly help the GIS industry go online and help the so-called ‘knowledge revolution’ happen in India.
Will Indian-maps dot com?
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