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India Meteorological Department to Use AI for Accurate Forecasting

The India Meteorological Department will soon use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to provide more accurate weather forecasts. The IMD has collaborated with the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in Prayagraj, Vadodara, and Kharagpur for technology upgradation. IMD has also tied up with a private tech player to provide precise short-term and long-term weather forecasts.

IMD is an agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting, and seismology in the country. IMD AI algorithms will help understand past weather models and improve decision-making. The agency uses different tools like radars and satellite imagery to issue nowcasts, which provide information on extreme weather events occurring in the next 3-6 hours.

According to a news report, the IMD has also formed several internal sub-groups of senior officials and meteorologists to decide on how best to use AI and ML in weather forecasts. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, IMD Director-General noted that the Ministry of Earth Sciences is inviting applications from independent researchers to fine-tune its use of AI and ML. A group of IMD’s allied organisations including the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has also been constituted in this regard. However, the official added that it might take two or three years for the IMD to fully leverage the AI and ML technologies in weather forecasting.

The report stated that in the past few years, the IMD has invested heavily in technology to provide exact predictions about severe weather events such as cyclones, floods, and thunderstorms. Currently, IMD has nearly 20 weather buoys and advanced weather station-equipped ships that collect data from the depths of the ocean. Also, the weather body has more than 25 Doppler radars to monitor climatic conditions. Meanwhile, an increase in computing power, from 1 teraflop to 8.6 teraflops, has helped the IMD process observational data better. Mohapatra added that the IMD, at present, is trying to accurately predict lightning incidents while also increasing its ability to give forecasts regarding heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, cyclones, and fog conditions.

India has been applying AI/ML solutions across sectors, including education, agriculture, healthcare, and governance. Recently, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) launched an AI-powered grievance management application to automatically handle and analyse complaints. The tool will reduce human errors, save time, and enhance transparency. As OpenGov Asia had reported, it can understand the content of the complaint and automatically identify repeat complaints or spam. Based on the meaning of the complaint, it can categorise complaints into different categories even when keywords normally used for such a search are not present in the complaint.

The tool enables the geographical analysis of complaints in a category including the analysis of whether the complaint was adequately addressed or not by the concerned office. The user-friendly search enables users to formulate their own queries/categories depending on management requirements and seek performance results based on the query. The application will aid in understanding the nature of complaints, geographies from where they emanate, and policy changes that can be introduced to create systemic improvements to address these grievances. The success of this project in the Ministry of Defence will pave the way for the extension of this application across other ministries.

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