India opens up remote sensing data sector

Bangalore: Remote sensing data and imagery with a very high resolution will now be made available under a new policy unveiled by Government to benefit more users in a move that will help infrastructure development in urban areas.

The 2011 Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP), which lifts some restrictions in force for the past 10 years, came against the backdrop of a CAG report had found that almost 80 per cent of images of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were idling.

The earlier policy that allowed all data of resolutions up to 5.8 metres to be distributed on non-discriminatory and `as requested` basis by ISRO has been brought down to up to one metre, K Radhakrishnan, Secretary in the Department of Space, said today. The old 2001 policy mandated that ISRO could release only data up to 5.8 metre resolution.

Radhakrishnan said the new policy liberalises and opens up the sector and would see more users getting data.

Restrictions as per the earlier policy, enunciated in 2001, have been removed, he said, adding that now, there is no bar on publishing of high resolution, remote sensing data of up to one metre resolution.

The top space official said high resolution data is required for infrastructure planning and other development activities.

According to RSDP-2011, all data of better than one metre resolution, however, shall be screened and cleared by the appropriate agency prior to distribution with a view to protect national security interests.

Among other factors, the new policy has taken into consideration the recent availability of very high-resolution images from foreign and commercial remote sensing satellites, and the need for proper and better management of the data acquisition/distribution from these satellites in India.

Government users such as ministries, departments, public sector, autonomous bodies, government R & D institutions, government educational and academic institutions can now obtain better than one metre resolution data without any further clearance.

Private sector agencies, recommended by at least one government agency, for supporting development activities, can obtain data without further clearance, while other private, foreign and other users, including web-based service providers, can do so from an inter-agency High Resolution Image Clearance Committee (HRC), already in place.

Radhakrishnan pointed out that at the time of framing the 2001 policy, "best available resolution to us was 5.8 metres through IRS-1C and IRS-ID". But thereafter, ISRO launched Cartosat-1 which gave 2.5 metres resolution data and Cartosat-2 series which gave 0.8 metres resolution data.

"Cartosat-2 data will (now) be available to the people", he said.

He said while Google covers some parts of the country, there are problems with the high resolution images offered by it in terms of "latency of data and how up-to-date they are."

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