How can ‘Bhuvan’ beat ‘Lagaan’ of Google, Yahoo and Bing(MicroSoft) Maps.

How ISRO Bhuvan can beat the lagaan of Google, Yahoo and Bing(MicroSoft) Maps. Our take on Bhuvan’s strategy.

ISRO launched ‘Bhuvan’ a map-based web application with deeper Zoom(upto 6 meters from surface) and plenty of other futuristic features such as complex poly-lines, geodesic calculations, 2D-3D images, shadow analysis, snapshot creation etc. Also, quite appropriately, ‘Bhuvan’ is more focused on the Indian landscape.

Though at the moment the web-app is far from being usable, the initiative calls for a wholesome congratulatory note from the community. We really need such initiatives that boost the spirit of technology in our country and kindle the aura to ‘lead from the forefront’ . The discussion on our previous post ISRO Launches Bhuvan, Google Earth has a stiff competition is ample proof of this need.

But before our pride and happiness fall to ‘Bhuvan’, we better look at the current industry scenario in the maps-technology domain. Dominated largely by Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and Bing (Re-branded Microsoft) Maps there still seems an opening for ‘Bhuvan’ with plenty of work yet to be done in the map and map-based web applications space.

‘Bhuvan’ can be put to use for general benefit of public, particularly for rural India. In ways which one could fathom only by looking closely at how Indian polity, industry and other verticals interact with ordinary people. For example, in last Lok Sabha elections we saw Google and Yahoo covering the political jugglery on their interactive map interfaces. Logistics, Tourism and Travel is another industry where ‘Bhuvan’ can provide a meaningful boost. City-planning, disaster management, education and general social and business applications such as the wikimapia are few other remarkable uses of Bhuvan’s map-technology.

All depends on the Bhuvan’s strategy, however. Our belief is that ‘Bhuvan’ would be successful only when it opens up its API for crowd-sourced development. Only free development from open source community can lead platforms like ‘Bhuvan’ into a profitable (not just monetarily) and sustainable venture – an ecosystem that could finally benefit the general citizens. And if ISRO is reading this positively, their API also needs to be competitive and legally democratic (free) in order to compete with Google or Yahoo maps.

While for now, the Team Bhuvan must look at cross browser compatibility, application optimization, resolution, performance etc. the longer vision to allow people use the technology for open-source development must not be ignored to make the product worth Indian pride and appreciation.

According to us the task is unfinished, and needs close monitoring with the trends of technology and development across the world. What’s your take on this?

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