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India needs local innovations to make mapping accurate: Zomato’s Mohit Gupta

After facing constant issues with the locations while delivering food to customers, Zomato had to launch a feature on its app which allowed users to leave voice commands narrating the location for the delivery personnel.

Currently India uses softwares which were made to address geolocations in the western markets.

Even today, over 85 percent of the country is unmapped which creates a huge challenge for companies to deliver last-mile services. The policy reform announced by the government will push entrepreneurs to innovate and build India-specific solutions which will go a long way in addressing the existing gap, experts said at a panel on mapping policy.

The government on February 15 liberalised mapping norms in India in a move which is likely to spur innovation, lead to the next generation of mapping, and unlock capital.

The guidelines released by the government direct the Survey of India and other government agencies producing or owning maps and geospatial data to simplify procedures, revise or abolish various licences and use modern techniques such as cloud, open APIs, to make its data accessible in an online format.

While Indian entities will be free to use this data and build on it, foreign entities and foreign-owned or -controlled Indian companies can licence from Indian entities.

“One of the most important things is that the government is taking notice of this area. It has come of age,” said Mohit Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of Zomato’s food delivery unit while speaking at the panel which was organised by think tank iSpirt.

After facing constant issues with the locations while delivering food to customers, Zomato had to launch a feature on its app which allowed users to leave voice commands narrating the location for the delivery personnel.

On talking about if Indian startups can take the mapping technology to the international markets, Lalitesh Katragadda said it would happen only when India has one of the best mapping technologies available and that would only happen if “we start in our own backyard and map India digitally”.

Katragadda built Google Maps for India and also worked on the Aarogya Setu app.

“About 15 percent of India is mapped. There’s a lot of work to be done, and it won’t happen by just one company doing it,” he said.

The opportunity in this segment can be estimated by the fact that China’s largest search engine Baidu believes that in the long term high definition maps will be a much bigger business than its search business in China today.

Currently India uses softwares which were made to address geolocations in the western markets. Indian housing systems do not work that way. There are instances wherein even if the people know the house numbers, it doesn’t show on the map. The need is for India centric innovations.

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