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NRSC meet ends, gives wake-up call for academia

Hyderabad, India: Capacity building and training, and the need for better R&D from academia marked the concluding session of the two-day NRSC Users’ Meet.

Commenting on the lack of specialised research papers, Dr P.G. Diwakar, Director, Earth Observation Systems, ISRO, said, the country had made tremendous progress in this field but it shouldn’t make us complacent. “We have complex satellites in space today but it’s not easy to develop applications if you do not understand what these complicated satellites can give. It is necessary for the academia, researchers and students to go a notch up in their technical understanding of some of these data utilisation to make a presentation on a forum like this.” He added that state space application centres would soon get focused training for data utilisation on Risat.

Stating that NRSC had moved beyond what it used to do earlier, Dr Diwakar said India has a good constellation of satellites today to provide us with various kinds of images and at the closed-door meeting with 18 state centres on Thursday, each state came up with the unique way it was using RS, GIS, mobile GIS and web GIS for development projects. “State centres have also moved up much beyond our expectations and they are delivering this technology to the government for use in planning, development, monitoring and various other things.”

Underlining the importance of users, he said Bhuvan symbolised what NRSC aimed and aspired for – connecting to the users. He added that the new website and browsing system of the centre were also more interactive and user friendly while the newly developed IMGEOS provided data at the earliest possible time. “NRSC’s computation has moved in such a way that when Risat2 was launched, I demonstrated its data delivery mechanism near real-time on an iPad in Delhi.”

Dr C.B.S. Dutt, Deputy Director, Earth and Climate Sciences Area, NRSC while acknowledging the progress in the optical part of remote sensing, called for additional efforts in terms of microwave applications. He also stressed on integration of data and services for automation, as well as development of soft skills for this job. Expressing disappointment with the academic sector, Dr Dutt urged them to take full advantage of the advancement in India’s satellite technology and come up with more R&D. Climate change is a big challenge and mitigation in climate change adaptability and related applications must come from the academia, he said.

Dr M. Annadurai, Programme Director, IRS, ISAC, commented on the absence of non-government organisations at the meet. He also said he expected more of real success stories on the ground. Twenty-five years of IRS which will be marked in March should commensurate with the outreach of these technologies into the various state levels and successful projects. He requested the state remote sensing centres to enrol more young generation people for such user meet. “Over the years, we tend to meet the same persons. Why new people do not come into at these meets? This is a great opportunity for young people to give their feedback as well as learn from these interactions.”

He added, “Data is not an issue today and the cost has come down. We are discussing capacity building, training, outreach through various mechanisms. States are asking for capacity building. This is encouraging.”

Dr Nagaraja, GD, NRSC Data Centre, said there were very few complaints received which proved that NRSC was on the right track and the services it had been providing were satisfactory. He added that IRS data prices had come down by more than 100% compared to last the Five Year Plan. Talking about high prices of foreign data, he said though NRSC had no control on that it was negotiating for the best prices. He also called for more success stories from the users. Dr Nagaraja called on the users to migrate to the online data ordering facility so that they could get data hassle-free in very less time and price.

Dr Srinivasalu, GM, ASDMA, NRSC, called on the users to come up with new applications. Most of the papers that were presented were somewhat similar to what have already happened elsewhere, he said while floating the idea of a prize or some free data for anyone coming up with a new, innovative application. He added that there were a lot of query in aerial data products which complimented satellite data and therefore NRSC needed to look at a set-up like the NDC for aerial data distribution.

D.S. Jain, Deputy Director, SDAPSA, outlined the types of services being offered by NRSC. Stating that a couple of years back there were a long list of complaints, he said this year’s lack of complaints signalled that things were moving in the right direction. Jain invited user suggestions/feedbacks to improve the services further. He also urged the users to go for FTP delivery instead of physical delivery to cut down on time and price. Speaking on data prices, he said there were many parameters that played a role in fixing of prices; the foremost being internal prices while the second was NRSC’s processing overheads and investments. “We have put bare minimum price for our products. In addition we also have free downloads if you use low-res and high-res data in tandem.”

Source: Our Correspondent