Can Security be achieved by restricting Public Information ?

The primary objective of the The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 bill has been to ensure security and sovereignty of the Country. As a responsible Citizen of the country, I should say that laws linked to security and integrity of the country should be strict. It should be strict enough to ensure proper representation of country’s borders and also to mask or vet for geospatial information that is highly sensitive to the security of the country primarily defence installations.

But while framing a law, enough care should be taken that it does not curb some activities that is currently beneficial to the citizens or impedes some services for common or individual good like relief works, navigation services, people and asset tracking and even scientific study & research.

In response to the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016, I do not support the bill in its entirety for the following reasons :

1. Under Clause 3.1 states no person shall acquire any geospatial information by any means for any part of India and can be done only when vetted by the the Security committee.

    Today, every smartphone comes with GPS sensors enabled. I use it to share location information with my friends ( like in WhatsApp ), or collect my running and cycling track ( using App like SportsTracker ). So, this gross clause means, that I  cannot use this services on my phone. The data I share like my home location or my running track along my neighbourhood is not a cause of Security breach of the country.  All these data are generated and consumed instantly. These kind of data neither can be vetted for in true sense, nor will be useful if it has to wait for 3 months for scrutiny.

   Also, it will effect for Transport companies like Ola, Uber or Bus services who cannot share their vehicle location and thereby rendering the whole system useless. If this Clause is applied as it is, it means the country will see no more of services like Ola, Uber taxis or cannot expect to show realtime updates for Bus or Shuttle services. We will date back to pre-90s era in terms of Transport system usage.

  Similarly, lot of fledgling companies are basing their ideas on location based services to launch modern and innovative products and services. Vetting for geospatial information which has no link to Country’s security will prohibit these new kinds of businesses. PM’s vision of StartupIndia & DigitalIndia can take a major hit with this clause.

 Hence, rather than vetting for Geospatial data acquisition for whole of the country, the clause should be specific enough to identify area or zones which are linked to the security of the country and seek to vet for those only.


2. Clause 4 states that no person shall disseminate or allow visualization of any Geospatial information of India through any medium without seeking the permission for Security Vetting Authority.

    Geospatial information and maps today are a consumer product. It is ubiquitous. It is used in multi fold way to make individuals informative, businesses effective and the Nation progressive as a whole. This clause is prohibitive for all these purposes. 

    As long the information disseminated is not affecting the security and sovereignty, vetting for the information is a narrow thinking approach. Likely as suggested for Clause 3.1, information that is falling in the secure or sensitive zones should only be vetted for rather the entirety of the Nation.

   City information is highly dependent on Map and Geospatial information. A gross prohibition as suggested by this clause can take a toll of PM’s programme for Smart Cities and Digital India. 


3. Clause 37 states that Government departments & PSUs will be outside the purview of this law. 

This kind of law which applies to a part or section of Indian citizen is partial and biased. Chances of faltering on India’s security information disclosure is as much by the Government agencies as it is for individuals/private agencies. Everyone should be under the purview of this Law.


4. This Bill is in high contradiction to the Nation Geospatial Policy 2016 proposed by Department of Science & Technology. 


I feel the proposed law is rather draconian, gross and drafted without considering the benefits the citizens of India are deriving out of existing geospatial information and related systems. For sake of security, this bill is curbing Public Information by regulation of collection, usage & dissemination of geospatial information. No law can deny Right to Information to its citizen. 

I do not support this bill unless the above clauses is reviewed further and provisions are made to make availability of geospatial information more “Open and Free”.

Jai Hind !!



Visit to get details of the proposed Bill and form your own opinion.

Do send in your response to Ministry of Home Affairs with your comments by 2nd June 2016. 


Open Transit Data for India


Mobility is one of the fundamental needs of human. And mobility with a shared mode of transport is undoubtedly the best from all quarters – socially, economically & environmentally. The key to effective shared mode of transport (termed as Public Transport) is “Information”. In India cities, lack of information has been cited as the primary reason for deterrence of Public Transport.

Transport Agencies are commissioning Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in various mode and capacity to make their system better and to meet the new transport challenges. Vehicle Tracking System, Electronic Ticketing Machines, Planning & Scheduling software are all engines of data creation. On the other side, advent of smart mobile devices in everyone’s hand is bringing in new opportunities to make people much more information reliant.

But the demand for transit data is remarkably low. The transit user and even transit data users like City Planners should demand for it.
The demand for Public Transport data in India should be for the following aspects:

A. Availability
To make operation and infrastructure data of Transport operators easily available as information to passengers in well defined order to plan their trip using available modes of Public Transport.

B. Interoperability
To make transit data provided by multiple agencies for different modes (bus, metro, rail) usable and make multi modal trip planning possible.

C. Usability
To publish transit oriented data in standard exchange format across agencies in regular frequencies to provide comprehensive, accurate and updated data for study, research, analysis, planning and system development.

D. Standardisation
To be a part of Passenger charter of Transport Operators to publish their data in standard format and frequency. This can also serve as a guideline for Transporter Operator while commissioning any system like Vehicle Tracking System, ITS, Passenger Information System, website etc.

What kind of Transit data is needed ?

  • Service Planning data

It will comprise of data on bus stops, stations, routes, geographic alignment, timetables, fare charts. With this dataset, general information on transit service can be easily gathered to plan a journey. Trip Planning mobile apps, portals etc can consume this data to provide ready and usable information for commuters.

  • Real time data

A commuter is driven by lot of anxieties when they depend on public transport mode. Some common queries; “When will the bus arrive ?”, “Where is my bus now?”, “Will I get a seat in the bus ?”, “Hope the bus has not deviated and not taking my bus stop.”.

Answer to all this queries can be attended via real time data like Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), Position of the vehicle, Occupancy level , Alert and Diversion messages etc. Transport Operator equipped with Tracking systems should be able to provide these data.

  • Operational & Statistical Data

A Transport Operators operational data comprises of ticket sales, data of operation infrastructure and resources like Depots, Buses, Crew, Workshops etc. As operatore are tending towards digital mode of managing these data it also makes a good option to publish them at regular intervals.

A general commuter might not be interested in this data, but it will very useful for City Planners to analyse the trend of commute in the city and make informed decision. City transport infrastructure can be planned to orient it towards transit needs and demands.

The transport agency can benefit highly by demonstrating accountability and transparency. They can uplift their image as a committed service provider thereby gaining for passengers for their service.


So, together it will make a thriving landscape, if the data creators of Public Transport in India provide their data in Open which can be consumed by a larger set of people to build platforms, applications, solutions for transport study, analysis & planning across different section of users.
Open Transit Data is the tipping point for Smart Mobility in India.

Continue reading

The Auto Business

Auto rickshaw is a quite prominent mode of public/private transport in India. In most cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai & Delhi these mode of travel fills the gap where it is out of reach for metro and buses. These three wheelers gels well with Indian city context which are mostly unplanned with narrow roads and lanes.
Auto rickshaws is one of the few indigenous innovation of India and its popularity highly depends on the fact that it came out from demand. Though no official figures for total number of rickshaws in the country exists, the rough count can touch 7 million. The number itself speaks about the sheer volume of this unique mode of transport.
But a general review of the people availing this facility across cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Bangalore shows that there is a rapidly growing amount of displeasure among the passengers taking auto rickshaws. Refusals, demand for higher fares, tampering meters all shows that the the auto rickshaw drivers rules the roost. Passengers are left with limited choices availing this mode of public/private transport service.
In an highly unorganised sector or auto rickshaw transport, Government and authorities are also left with few choices to take control over the matter.
But primarily auto rickshaw in India cities runs on meter basis. But they offer a lower fare than a cab. Apparently it looks that an auto rickshaw can maintain this fare level and still remain in profits.

Profitability in Transport

But the ground reality is quite different is seen through the perspective of an auto rickshaw driver. The majority of the auto drivers are not the owners of the vehicles. They take it on rent basis at a charge of Rs.200-300 per day. Fuel & routine maintenance expenses are borne by the drivers. Now coming back to profitability, the basic principle remains the same as for any other commercial vehicle – “The more time it clocks with passengers, more the earning”. But there is thin line between how much a rickshaw runs and how much it earns.

If the driving pattern of this mode of transports is seen, it will be noted that the vehicles are parked at a close location to where the driver sleeps at night. In a day of operation they have some common touch points or pick up points as per his convenience. The further he goes from these touch points, the more riskier trip its is for him. The more he shifts further from his zones, the probability of drifting becomes higher. The final outcome which all drivers fear – Running a long distance without a passenger. This is a direct loss. It is primarily this fear that that forms the basis of refusals, extra charge above meter, altercations and all other conditions that the ill-fated passengers meet.

I plan to start a series here to put down my ideas oriented to this subject to make auto rickshaw transport a no-brainer profitable model.

Here are some of the summarised though processes which I plan to discuss in details in following posts :

  • Ride sharing model
  • Running in “Closed Loop”
  • Demand & Gap Analysis System for Auto Drivers
  • Auto on Call
  • The Auto Rickshaw Company



TECHnology in URBANisation

Technology brings easiness and saves times. In today’s context the only barrier between you and technology is the affordability. But gradually this barrier is getting lowered by raising incomes and flattening of the global technology landscape.

Urbanisation is another factor that is happening at a quite fast pace. More people and tending towards cities affecting the demography, lifestyle and economy as a whole. The adoption of technology is rather high in the cities.

TechUrbana focusses to study these two subjects in close counters – Technology and Urbanisation. This blog will try to bring together stories, studies, events, talks, people and companies that can be tagged under the above two topics tossed with my personal reviews and comments. But all above will primarily highlight the mobility aspect of urbanisation and its impacts in terms of technology and vice versa.

TechUrbana starts its journey here !!


Technology in Urbanscape