NSDI History

Report of the Task Force on National Geospatial Data Infrastructure Constituted by Department of Science & Technology

  • Task Force

    Considering the importance of geospatial data and its varied applications in the present day environment, Government of India constituted a Task Force to suggest the implementation modalities. To meet the needs of users, planners, policy makers, industry and academia and to reap the benefits of higher-end technologies like GIS, GPS, high resolution satellite sensors, a single source of information infrastructure is a long felt need. Moreover, fast computers and ICT technologies provide ways and means for supplying spatial data to the users on their desktops. With this objective in view, DST constituted a Task Force with Surveyor General of India as Chairman and Brig (Dr.) R. Siva Kumar, Head, NRDMS & NSDI, DST as Member Secretary, on 30th October, 2000.

  • Background

    Geographic, geo-spatial or spatial data forms the foundation of all planned human activity. Disaster management, management and conservation of natural resources, infrastructure planning and development, land use planning are just a few examples of areas in which decision-making is contingent on availability of accurate and high quality spatial data. Developments in digital technologies, particularly the rapid advancements in Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems have now made it possible to correlate and use diverse map information, in conjunction, at the click of a mouse.

    The ability to make use of large volumes of different data sets in conjunction with one another in a networked environment has given rise to the metaphor of data infrastructures. Spatial Data Infrastructures are now sought to be established at local, national, regional and global levels.

  • Global Scenario


    The problems stated in the preceding paragraphs have been faced universally. In the last decade or so, the concept of spatial data infrastructure has evolved and the need for standardizing data-sets, creating meta data, and enabling internet based access to such data bases aroused as a part of the process of knowledge enablement and empowerment of civil society and governance.

  • National Scenario


    The initiative to establish a national level spatial data/information infrastructure was first mooted in 2000 itself by the Department of Space in a meeting convened by Secretary, DOS with a large number of data producing and data using Departments. This meeting took note of the various policy level and institutional problems faced in data generation, acquisition and dissemination and use, especially the Map Restriction Policy of the Ministry of Defense and discussed ways in which these problems could be resolved.

  • Dual Series of Maps

    Considerations of national security have prevented a large part of spatial data, especially spatial data .in the digital domain to be shared freely. To find a way to make data accessible without compromising security requirements, the Department of Science & Technology proposed to the Ministry of Defense the commissioning of dual series of maps, one for restricted use by the armed forces and another for the unrestricted civilian use. The civilian series of maps would use a different geo-referencing system, a different projection system and a different sheet numbering system which would be compatible with the international systems in use and which would make it impossible for such maps to be used for military purposes. The proposal was approved by the Ministry of Defense and as far as civilian maps series are concerned they agreed that their use and dissemination will be completely unrestricted. The decision paved the way for DST to take the initiative towards the creation of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). As a pre-cursor to NSDI, in May 2005 the Cabinet approved the National Map Policy mooted by DST.

    In November 2000, Department of Science and Technology constituted a task force under the Chairmanship of the Surveyor General of India for evolving a vision for National Spatial Data Infrastructure and formulating a strategy and an action plan. A vision, strategy and action plan document was consequently prepared and discussed in an International Workshop organized jointly by the Department of Space and Department of Science and Technology in Feb. 2001. This workshop had active participation from Government departments, the academia, industry and international experts. The strategy and action plan document was unanimously endorsed by the workshop and the Government was urged to expedite the establishment of the NSDI as conceptualized by the Task Force.

    The Action Plan document was also circulated to a large number of Ministries and Departments and various professional organizations such as the Institution of Engineers, Institution of Surveyors, Indian National Cartographic Association etc for their comments and suggestions. The document was also put on the website of the CSDMS - A Leading ,NGO dedicated for promotion and use of geo-spatial technologies. Thus a public debate was initiated.

    The initiative has received overwhelming support and endorsement from every quarter and it is expected that the NSDI once operational will lead to an exponential growth of the GIS and Mapping industry in India which is today a multibillion dollar industry elsewhere in the world. It will also fundamentally transform the nature and quality of developmental activity particularly in respect of infrastructure, urban development, watershed development, agriculture, natural resources management, and environmental development. The strategy and action plan was endorsed at the 2 nd NSDI Workshop held in Ooty in July, 2002 and NSDI Task Force was endorsed with implementation of the same.


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