The ecosystem of location-based services is still evolving globally and any regulation introduced should be balanced to ensure that the pace of innovation is not impacted, a Google official today said. "The entire space around location technology and services is a dynamic space. The ecosystem is still evolving. Some of the concerns that governments have are not specific to one country as everyone wants to protect their citizens. We work in multiple countries and abide by the law of the land," Google Maps Next Billion Users Director Suren Ruhela told reporters here. He added that regulations and laws need to be "balanced" to ensure that the pace of innovation is not impacted. He was speaking on the sidelines of introduction of 'Plus Codes' - a location-based digital addressing system - to Google Maps to make searching for addresses easier for users in India. Besides, the company has added voice navigation in six Indian languages - Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam - apart from Hindi. When asked about the impact of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill on Maps' offerings in India, Ruhela said the Indian government is promoting location services in many ways. "Digital India vision itself talks about use of location services in a big way.
So I think the government clearly recognises that location service is a big enabler for implementation of schemes, delivery of government services... I see this government is very progressive," he said. According to the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, one would have to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India. However, there had been criticism from various quarters, saying the provisions of the bill are stringent and may violate privacy of individuals. On Plus Codes, Ruhela said, the open-sourced solution is based on dividing the geographical surface of the Earth into tiny grids, making it easier to find a location. The code, which is in a 'six-character + City' format, can be generated, shared and searched through Google Maps on any smartphone, he added. "Plus Codes can be used for a wide variety of reasons including communicating the venue of a temporary event, guiding emergency services to afflicted locations, and providing an identifiable location for complicated addresses," he said. Ruhela explained that users can submit new or missing addresses through this feature and after verification, the address will be made searchable. "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," Ruhela said adding this will ensure user data stays private. He explained that unlike in the US, finding a residential address in India can often be challenging as they may not be very well-defined and are often hard to locate. "We are committed to making Maps more relevant for users here. The number of users here has doubled in the last two years...India inspires our product vision and often we deploy our learnings from here to other markets," Ruhela said.