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[January 21, 2014]
VIT in spotlight for cyclone alerts [Mail Today (India)]
(Mail Today (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The staff and students at VIT ( Vellore Institute of Technology) University's Computer Science department garnered global attention recently with their mobile phone based cyclone alerts that warn people about an impending calamity.
article on the new technology, authored by Satyajit Ghosh, senior professor and an atmospheric scientist at the School of Mechanical and Building Sciences, VIT University, along with students Vivek Vidyasagaran and Sandeep Subramanian, was published in the Atmospheric Science Letters by the Royal Meteorological Society, U. K. The VIT alert system functions by converting information sourced from the Weather Research and Forecasting model, a numerical weather predication system, into images suitable for mobile phones.
The trio explains in the paper how during the cyclone Phalin last year, they were able to track its genesis, progression and fall.
The calamity led to mass evacuation of more than 12 million people in India and neighbouring countries.
" The incident brought home the need for effective alert systems. The device which we have created will provide forecasts with the help of satellite meteorology to people who need it the most," said Ghosh.
Moreover, with the number of mobile phone users in the country expected to touch 1.15 billion by the end of 2014, an alert system developed for mobile phones can cover as many as 97 per cent of the population.
" This makes it an ideal medium for large scale disaster warning systems.
The number of individuals who access the internet using their mobile phones is 23.8 million.
Our goal is to make cyclone alerts accessible to all in the quickest possible manner," said Ghosh.
The alert technology designed to work on all formats of cell phones will come in the form of an MMS with a voice alert option wherever needed.
" We are going to patent the technology in the next three months and launch the first phase of trials in our adopted villages in Tamil Nadu," said Ghosh. " The alerts will include coloured images and warnings in Tamil. This will be later extended to other languages," added Ghosh.
The interdisciplinary research demonstrates how various branches of science and engineering can come together in a university environment to solve societal problems. The research article has been selected to feature in Wiley's News Round- Up , a summary of newsworthy research published across Wiley's journals.
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