India has embarked upon a journey of self-reliance on many aspects in a major response to the pandemic that struck a year back. There has been a major thrust in the sphere of technology and innovation, and the government has been spending resource and time in multifarous ways including challenges like Aatmanirbhar Bharat app innovation challenge.
Things can’t happen overnight, yet there are many stages where India has been able to achieve success in this regard. In some cases, indigenous apps have replaced Chinese apps that got banned amidst the pandemic because of security concerns. In many cases, an attempt has been underway to build the alternative with glitches here and there. In some instances, the recognition of alternatives has been done, as in the case of having an indigenous video conference solution, but the scalability is seemingly yet to be achieved.
What About Mapping Our Own Paths?
There is one important area in which India is becoming self-reliant, which is mapping. You all know that Indian government has relaxed regulations on mapping, enabling technology companies to play a role, the details of which you can read in our article Modi Government Unlocks an Enormous Opportunity In Geo-Spatial Sector benefitting Farmers, Miners, Industrialist and Researchers.
That is a welcome move at the policy level. But the hard question remains – In an era when google maps is synonymous with mapping, do we have a scalable model that can position itself as a desi alternative?
This query has an affirmative answer that takes us to Map My India owned by CE Info Systems, which now offers an app called Move for Navigation.
Desi Company Got a Chance to Scale UP
MapmyIndia has been functioning for the last 25 years. So, what is the change that has occurred since?
It got awarded in the Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge. The Modi government held that contest to precisely recognise the indigenous technology companies whose offering can be scaled up as an alternative.
As promised, an eco-system for growth is now provided through a pact with ISRO.
On February 11, 2020 Department of Space has entered into an MoU with M/s CE Info Systems Pvt Ltd., an Indian Geospatial Technology company in New Delhi developing location-based Software Service and AI based solutions. Through the MoU, the combined geospatial expertise of the Department and CE Info Systems will be leveraged through their respective Geoportals. This Collaboration will enable both the teams to jointly identify & build holistic geospatial solutions utilizing the Earth Observation Datasets, NavIC, Web Services & APIs available in MapmyIndia, Bhuvan, VEDAS and MOSDAC Geoportals.
.@isro & MapmyIndia partner to offer India’s best indigenous maps, navigation & geospatial apps & services. Path-breaking #AatmanirbharBharat milestone! Now Indian users can leverage made in India maps, navigation, and GIS services. https://t.co/CTL9TX7dFO #ISRO #Maps #GIS pic.twitter.com/R2nCIbDWo4
— MapmyIndia (@MapmyIndia) February 11, 2021
Alternative to Google Map?
An article published in Forbes India back in April 2018 gives an idea about the strength and expertise of this company. It was offering B2B solutions, not trading directly with the consumers.
An excerpt from Forbes India:
“For long, MapmyIndia, the Delhi-headquartered company, had relied on its B2B business to drive growth. It now controls over 80 percent of the automobile map space. MapmyIndia’s maps often come pre-loaded in vehicles, including Hyundai and Jaguar, and also offer the back-end technology for ride-sharing apps, including Ola. While it has been fairly successful on that front, with annual revenues clocking ₹200 crore, the company is aiming for more.”
In that interaction with Forbes India, CEO of the company Rakesh Verma indicated that if the government provides them the enabling atmosphere, they can take on dominant players in the market, in particular Google. He pinned high hopes on the Modi government.
Some More excerpts from the interview.
Rakesh and his team are also hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India programme will stimulate their next phase of growth. “We have two advantages here. One is our products are made in India and we provide employment here,” he says. “The second advantage is that we don’t have to share our data back to California. So we aren’t a threat.”
As we see, the Modi government has provided what the innovators have asked for.