Dealing with Natural Disasters through IoT and Big Data

By : |April 19, 2019 0

By Abhishek Agarwal, Senior Vice President (Global Delivery), Judge Group India

For ages, India has been facing natural disaster crisis due to its inefficient infrastructure for disaster management. Be it the 2018 dust storms, 2016 Uttarakhand forest fires, Kerala floods, Kashmir quakes, all reflect our failure in coping up with the natural phenomenon. However, advances like big data, AI and IoT seem to reignite hope when it comes to saving lives or mitigating the loss of life.

What’s disaster management?

Disaster management or emergency management lifecycle is not an easy process. It is a long, step-by-step process, which comprises risk identification, disaster preparedness, emergency response, allocation of resources, reaction planning, and ultimately, disaster recovery. Thanks to IoT for showing us the way to face natural disasters at every stage with extra courage.

How does it work?

IoT devices are those that use embedded systems, which can run on even low power electronics such as Bluetooth. In general, it comprises telecom network, powered by LTE/LTE-A, edge devices, Internet gateways and the IoT software platform. It brings together application providers, device vendors, platform providers, network providers and end users, thus, enabling umpteen residential and industrial applications to deliver results.

Role of Social Media, Big Data Analytics and Cloud

                                 

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We are digitally surrounded by a social media world which enables us to record and share videos anywhere and anytime. It keeps us aware about the incidents going around us, 24×7. Big data analytics helps analyse critical data in real time and utilize it for real-world cases. Cloud is like the storage backup of IoT that allows companies to launch and store applications, without causing worries about costs or infrastructure.

The Existing Impediments

Communication infrastructure is the major hurdle for India that comes in the way of making IoT a reality. The telecom industry here lags behind when compared to China and other developed countries. The Indian telecom industry is dominated by private players whereas that of China’s is primarily realized through government funds. India struggles due to its challenging demographics and paucity of favourable policies. The sluggish 4G momentum and delay of National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) project are true examples of India’s slow progress towards IoT.

While the developed countries have started experimenting with 5G technology, Indian telecom authority TRAI hasn’t even started conversations. High spectrum costs is another impediment in the way country’s advancement. Adding to it are Right of Way (RoW) challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Next is standardization for India to adapt to an IoT culture. Cybersecurity is also a big concern as of now that needs to be resolved ASAP.

5G is the backbone of IoT, and without resolving the aforementioned issues, India cannot turn into a 5G-driven nation.

What should be done?

India should take inspiration from NASA or NOAA. With the use of sensor data, satellite imagery and surveillance, they are able to predict not only the location where the storm is likely to take place but also coordinate with law enforcement and first responders to stand prepared in any case. They identify staging locations and evacuation routes, collect data from sensors and meters, which are mined throughout the region and further with the help of machine learning algorithms, predict patterns and outcomes.

Also, biggies like Dell EMC, Google, Microsoft, etc. have been making enormous contributions as relief funds. These philanthropic efforts play a crucial role at the times of natural disasters.

What’s the coda?

Predictions say that over 50 billion devices will be connected via IoT by 2020, and this industry will reach around $6.2 trillion by 2025. The credits go to the rapid technological innovations that are taking place in today’s world, in a cost-efficient manner. A few years ago, we have seen mobility, social media, Cloud, analytics, etc. significantly catering to consumerising IT across industries. Soon, we would see these technologies transform into an IoT-driven ecosystem that can save millions of lives during disasters.

In the wake of rapid technological innovations, it is critical to spread awareness about the same and educate people across the globe. They should be aware of the climatic changes, their consequences and how we can tackle them in real time. Big data and IoT not only have the potential to predict disasters but also to prepare us to face them intelligently.

Every disaster leaves us with massive data. It depends on us how we garner, manage, and analyse them, to accordingly map out a plan of action for natural disasters. The Indian government is doing a great job; however, it’s time that it accelerates its operations and develops a smart strategy aided by technology advances to overcome the current challenges and stays prepared for the future.

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