India: The Uttarakhand disaster which India witnessed about a year ago is still fresh in people’s minds. This was evident today in the session on ‘Disaster Management’ with almost all experts referring to the incident in order to explain why disaster preparedness is important for the country. “It is not that we do not have basic information for disaster reduction like technical studies, geographical data, etc. This information does exist, but is not readily available to local authorities and other stakeholders. In fact, the information is hardly available in a form that facilitates decision-making,” said Sreeja Nair, Assistant Prof, In-Charge, GIS, IDRN, National Institute of Disaster Management.
Col Nadeem Arshad, Joint Advisor (IT & Communication), NDMA, also raised a similar concern when he said, “Real-time dissemination of information to local authorities and threatened community is our main requirement.” Speaking about the gaps in management of disaster in the country, he said, “There is no data management (data fusion) centre at national level, and no integrated data centres at state/district level.” He described interoperability as a mandatory requirement for effective disaster management.
Interoperability issues were discussed in detail by Dr MK Munshi, Chair, OGC India Forum, during his presentation as well. He explained the vital role of open standards in ensuring seamless interoperability between systems deployed by multiple agencies, working on different OS and GIS platforms. He also described cultural issues as a major reason which prevents agencies from sharing their data with each other. Dr Munshi was also the chairman of the session.
“There is a need to leverage technology for disaster management,” said Col Rajiv Mehta, Central Command, Indian Army, who spoke at length about the role of Indian Army in carrying out search and rescue operations during the Uttarakhand floods. His views were echoed by Lt Col Ashish Bhagawan Sutar, MCTE, Indian Army, who praised the role of security forces in disaster relief operations. While examining the application of remote sensing and GIS in planning, preparation and relief stages of disaster cycle, he said that there is a need to exploit the technology for effective relief operations.
Meanwhile, the representatives from the research community informed the audience about the work that India is doing in improving its disaster management skills. While VV Ganesh from NRSC, provided the technological insight into ISRO’s various satellites and highlighted the activities of the organisation, Sunil Dhar, Scientist F, DTRL, spoke about their facility, Automated and Real Monitoring of Landslide (ARMOL) which the organisation has developed for real-time monitoring of landslide. The facility has been established at Tangni on Chamoli–Joshimath Road (NH-58) and includes field sensors, data acquisition systems, data communication and software for remotely collecting sensor data, its processing and transferring to DTRL for generating landslide alerts. It has already started providing these alerts to some security agencies.
Similarly, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), which provides the weather forecast of the country, has taken a number of initiatives to ensure that weather forecast reaches to the common man in a language understood by him. “In order to ensure that people get news about the weather easily, we have developed an app for mobile devices which provides three days weather forecast,” said Rahul Saxena, Scientist E, IMD.
The industry perspective was provided by Richard Sundaram, Head – Defence and HLS, Esri India, and Vinaybabu Adimulam, Senior Manager, Industry Solutions, Hexagon India, who introduced audience to the latest technologies that are available for effective disaster management.
Source: Our Correspondent