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NRSC’s Bhuvan to go live soon

Project using remote sensing technology to map rural India and its assets is a crowd-sourced medium

Written by Smita Nair | Mumbai | Published: January 4, 2015 7:20:09 am

The Uttarakhand floods gave the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) 24,000 photographs, uploaded in real time from across the disaster zone by affected people, helping ultimately in directing relief operations. In October last year, the NRSC also used an Android app and crowd-sourced over 3,000 photographs of Cyclone Hudhud, helping the Andhra Pradesh government assess the damage. Speaking of these heartening developments at the Indian Science Congress’s Outreach Programme Saturday, NRSC Director Dr V K Dadhwal also spoke of the centre’s Bhuvan project that is gearing up to map rural India and its assets.

Bhuvan, the NRSC’s pet project, is a crowd-sourced medium where the centre asks people to upload photographs, with time and location, on the web. The NRSC then uses remote sensing technology to spot the location and use the resource. “We used it after the cyclone and the floods. It was overwhelming, getting photographs sent by people from the affected spots. They were overwhelming and dramatic. There was a boulder here, or a breach there; or a crack in the wall. Everyone wanted to show something. We then forwarded the photographs to the departments concerned to get effective response sent,” said Dadhwal.

The mobile app-based platform assembles all photographs under the weblink

“There is a huge potential here. Village resources are precious. Essentially, we are using people’s images to map the assets inside each village. The photographs will be with us with the location and time, ensuring we map it correctly and track it. States have started responding. This has just begun and we should see more response,” said the NRSC chief.

A glance through the Bhuvan (named after earth) website shows separate links with an interface option of seeing a place in 2D or 3D, and also see a region during the climate change it goes through. “For now we have just begun collecting photographs. It’s a long way ahead,” said Dadhwal.

During the Uttarakhand floods, he said, there were separate screening systems installed. “People started placing themselves in the calamity, in a way to say that they were there too. They started sending us selfies. We had to screen them,” he recalled.

To go live soon, select areas will first be available to users. The centre believes that the project is perhaps the first in the world to help create resources to study a region based on several factors, including geology and geography.

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