A Desi Alternative To Google Maps, ISRO Announces ‘Bhuvan’

On Thursday, the Department of Science and Technology, under which ISRO operates, signed an MoU with CE Info Systems Pvt Ltd, which owns MapmyIndia, a geospatial technology firm Bhuvan.

The partnership will allow them to jointly define and develop a comprehensive geospatial portal using earth observation datasets,’ NavIC’, Web Services and APIs (application programming interface) available in MapmyIndia, ISRO said in a statement adding that ‘Bhuvan’,’ VEDAS’ and ‘MOSDAC’ will be the geospatial portals.

Also known as NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation), the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System is an indigenous navigation system developed by ISRO.

Bhuvan is the national geo-portal that ISRO has developed and hosted, comprising geospatial data, services, and analysis tools.

VEDAS (Visualisation of Earth Observation Data and Archival System) is an online geoprocessing platform that, according to ISRO, uses optical, microwave, thermal and hyperspectral EO data covering applications particularly intended for academia, research and problem solving.

A data repository for all ISRO meteorological missions, MOSDAC (Meteorological and Oceanographic Satellite Data Archival Centre) deals with weather-related information, oceanography and tropical water cycles.

Verma said there are many explanations why, with an indigenous solution for maps and geospatial services, Indians are better off.

“MapmyIndia, being a responsible, local, Indian company, ensures that its maps reflect the true sovereignty of the country, depicting India’s borders as per Government of India, and hosts its maps in India,” he said.

Through the combined partnership with ISRO, the end-user maps, applications and services of MapmyIndia will now integrate with the massive satellite imagery and earth observation data catalogue of ISRO, a MapmyIndia statement said.

It would be a lot better, more accurate, and comprehensive, as well as privacy-centric, hyper-local, and indigenous mapping solution for Indians, compared to foreign map apps and solutions, it said.

Verma said solutions for foreign mapping come with a lot of hidden costs.

For example, international search engines and businesses claim to provide “free” maps, but in fact, by targeting the same users with ads based on invading user privacy and auctioning private location and movement data for those users, they make money,” he said. “This should be very disturbing for all people.

On the other hand, against the advertisement-led business models of such firms, MapmyIndia has an ethical point of view and hence has no advertising business model. Users can help protect their privacy by using MapmyIndia maps and applications instead of international map applications,” he said.

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