The Indian Space Research Organisation and MapMyIndia on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for developing location based software services and AI-based solutions, ISRO said in a release. As part of this partnership, MapMyIndia’s end user maps, apps and services will now integrate with ISRO’s catalogue of satellite imagery and earth observation data, the company said in a separate release. The service would be a “privacy-centric” option, compared to “foreign map apps and solutions”, it added.
MapMyIndia users will also be able to see various map-based analytics and insights about weather, pollution, agricultural output, land use changes, flood, and landslide disasters, among other things, the company claimed. R Umamaheswaran, scientific secretary, ISRO, and Rakesh Verma, chairman and MD of MapMyIndia signed the MoU.
While making the announcement, MapMyIndia also positioned itself as a more privacy protecting location service compared to services provided by “foreign organisations”. “Foreign mapping solutions come with a lot of hidden costs. For e.g., foreign search engines and companies claim to offer “free” maps, but in reality they make money by targeting the same users with advertising based on invading user privacy and auctioning those users’ private location and movement data. This should be very alarming to all citizens,” it said.
Verma didn’t leave much doubt that he was referring to Google Maps, saying on Linkedin that “You don’t need Goo*le Maps/Earth any longer,” replacing one of the letters in the search giant’s name with an asterisk. We have reached out to Google to find out what they have to say on MapMyIndia’s apparent jibe that they are “auctioning […] users’ private location and movement data”.