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Challenging Google maps, ISRO enters navigation domain with Indian partner

ISRO already develops ‘NavIC’ also called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which is navigation with Indian constellation, an Indian made navigation system

Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanibhar Bharat doctrine for a self reliant India, innovative grassroots entrepreneurs in the digital world are turning heads. Soon after Koo’s Aprameya Radhakrishna, the founder of Koo – the microblogging site that threatens to take on titans such as Twitter – the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has joined hands with MapmyIndia, to provide navigation solutions that could challenge the virtual monopoly of Google maps.

“There are many reasons why Indians are better off with an indigenous solution for maps and geospatial service,” said MapmyIndia CEO and Executive Director Rohan Verma.

Verma commented in a LinkedIn post that, “MapmyIndia, being a responsible, local Indian company, ensures that its maps reflect the true sovereignty of the country, depicting India’s borders as per the government of India, and hosts its maps in India.”

The Department of Science under which ISRO comes signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the geospatial technology company CE Info Systems Pvt Ltd, which owns MapmyIndia, on Thursday. Under the partnership, the combined geospatial expertise of the DoS and CE Info Systems would be leveraged through their respective Geoportals, according to Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO.

Verma said that both the organizations would come with an India-made mapping portal and geospatial services. Emphasising that the collaboration will boost ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, he added, it will mean that users in India in future can rely on a country made solution and not a service designed outside India.

ISRO in a statement said that the collaboration will enable them to jointly identify and build holistic geospatial solutions utilising the earth observation datasets, 'NavIC', Web Services and APIs (application programming interface) available in MapmyIndia, 'Bhuvan', 'VEDAS' and 'MOSDAC' geoportals.

Describing the joint effort between the Government agency and the Indian private entity a “path-breaking milestone” towards the objective of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Verma said MapmyIndia’s end-user maps, apps and services would “integrate with ISRO’s huge catalogue of satellite imagery, and earth observation data, and would be a much better, more detailed and comprehensive, as well as privacy-centric, hyper-local and indigenous mapping solutions for Indians, compared to foreign map apps and solutions”.

Highlighting the USP of the collaboration, Verma said, “Users will be able to see in MaymyIndia’s maps and services, all of India from a bird’s eye point of view, and also benefit hugely from the various map-based analytics and insights about weather, pollution, agricultural output, land-use changes, flood and landslide disasters etc.”

ISRO already develops ‘NavIC’ also called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which is navigation with Indian constellation, an Indian made navigation system. 

MapmyIndia has been digitally mapping India for the last 25 years, much before Google maps came into existence anywhere in the world, according to Verma. In fact in 2004 MapmyIndia launched the first mapping portal for the country.

“MapmyIndia’s map covers all 7.5 lakh villages, 7500 plus cities at street and building-level, connected by all 63 lakh kilometres of road network pan India and within cities, in total providing maps for an unparalleled 3+ crore places across India,” MapmyIndia statement said.

The “sustainable and direct, clean business model” of MapmyIndia will ensure that the maps and apps are kept free of cost as well as free of ads for users,  Verma observed.