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‘Laws on location services shouldn’t impact innovation’

13 March, 2018 5:30 PM
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Any new regulation or law that the government may bring for location-based services should ensure that the pace of innovation is not impacted, said Suren Ruhela, Director, Google Maps Next Billion Users.

“The entire space around location services is very dynamic… the ecosystem is still evolving,” he said, adding that some concerns that governments had about security were not specific to one country.

Replying to a query on the proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Bill or GIRB on Tuesday, Mr. Ruhela said that being a global firm, Google abided by the law of the land. “When it comes to specifically, something like GIRB, I would say that government is promoting location services in a lot of ways.”

“The government clearly recognises that location service is a big enabler for implementation of schemes, delivery of government services. We have to balance somewhere to see that regulations or laws should not scuttle the pace of innovation. This government is very progressive. I am sure these aspects will be looked at,” he said.

As per the draft Bill, a nod from a government authority would be required before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India. It also proposes heavy fines for violation.

Google rolled out new features to aid easier navigation using Google Maps, including voice navigation in six languages – Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. It also unveiled ‘Plus Codes’ – a system based on dividing the geographical surface of the earth into tiny ‘tiled areas’, attributing a unique code to each of them.

These codes can then be shared to aid navigation in instances such as communicating the venue of a temporary event, guiding emergency services to afflicted locations, and providing an identifiable location for complicated addresses.

“In India, we know how challenging it can be to reach a given residential address. They are unique in format, and vary across regions, localities, and use cases. While some addresses are well-defined by street names and house numbers that are easy to find, others can be long-winded and hard to locate,” he said.

Additionally, users will now be able to submit new or missing addresses – residential as well as business, which will be made searchable after verification. “The process ensures that people don’t include any personally identifiable information like names. Address is public information and on Maps, it will not point out who the address belongs to.”


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