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India ramps up internet connectivity for villages post critical event – cyclone Nisarga

Image credit: NASA

Cyclone Nisarga hit the Indian state Maharashtra in June. Parts of the West coast including, Mumbai, Raigad, Thane, and Palghar, were at high risk. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) termed the cyclone as a severe and dangerous one. Apart from the damage to life and livelihood, the cyclone disrupted daily life, including education.

After the cyclone hit, about 200 children had to travel 50 kilometers to reach an area with an internet connection to attend online classes from their remote coastal villages. According to a news report, the children from remote villages in Maharashtra had to deal with internet disruptions since early June when connectivity along the coastal area of Ratnagiri district was unstable.

A student reached out to the National Commission for Protection Child Rights (NCPCR) for help. The agency ensured that the connectivity would be restored in the fastest possible manner by reaching out to cellular companies and the district magistrate of the area. In July, the NCPCR Chairman said that the commission told the district magistrate of Ratnagiri to immediately intervene in the matter, make the liaison, and issue suitable directions to the concerned cellular service provider to get the internet connectivity restored at the earliest. No child should be a victim of undue pressure or stress concerning their education, he stated.

The chairman said the NCPCR continuously followed up with the authorities, and the internet connection in the area was eventually restored by one of the cellular networks. The rest of them assured that they will resolve the issue at the earliest. The organisation intervened and wrote to the district magistrate and cellular companies and dealt with it as a policy intervention.

As a result, the action was taken on a priority basis and internet connectivity in the village was restored. He also noted that it is very important to ensure efficient internet facilities for the children in these times. If children are dependent upon the internet for their education, then it needs to be ensured that they get a barrier-free internet facility.

Meanwhile, several mobile applications were developed to help people track the cyclone. Users could go to the Mumbai Rain app to track the movement of the cyclone and can get real-time temperatures, rainfall figures, relative humidity, and wind speed for nearby places.

The app showcased weather data (maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall figures, relative humidity, and wind speed for all the major locations in Mumbai city. Along with the live and real-time weather and rainfall information, the app provides hourly weather and rainfall forecasts up to 24 hours in advance, helping residents to plan their day. The Mumbai Rain data is fetched directly from Skymet Weather’s Automatic Weather Stations (AWS). Another unique feature of the app is that it helps the user with real-time traffic and with live rainfall information over one map.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) website also helped victims track the cyclone. Users could visit the IMD website, go to the ‘Our Services’ section by scrolling down, select the cyclone option, and select the ‘Track of cyclonic disturbances’ option in the left corner of the website.

IMD also monitored the cyclone with the help of available satellite observations from INSAT 3D and 3DR, SCAT SAT, polar-orbiting satellites, and available ships and buoy observations in the region. The system was also monitored by the doppler weather radar (DWR) in Goa and Mumbai.

Various numerical weather prediction models run by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) institutions, global models, and dynamical-statistical models were utilised to predict the genesis, landfall, and intensity of the cyclone. IMD used a digitised forecasting system for the analysis and comparison of the various model guidance, decision-making processes, and warning product-generation.

Not only forecasting but timely warning can also prevent disruption of life and property when natural disasters like these hit. Everbridge solutions like the SMARTWeather and ThreatView can make a significant difference in controlling damage caused by such critical events.

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