On the occasion of Good Governance Day on December 25, 2014, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan launched an SMS-based alert system for the public for any kind of disaster-related weather information. This initiative is undertaken by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) as a part of the Digital India programme launched by the Government of India.
The SMS-based cyclonic warning system is intended to provide alerts to the people on cyclones, tsunamis and other natural calamities related to the weather. It is basically an SMS-based weather information and disaster alert system to protect the lives of people in weather calamities.
The flagship programme of the Government, Digital India, was launched in 2014 with a mission to transform India into a digitally powered country and knowledge economy. In recent years, the IMD has already been involved in the improvement of warning services as well as weather forecasts using the latest technology and tools and information technology. Considering the number of natural calamities that has led to destruction in various States in the past, the cyclone warning system implemented by the IMD is indeed a good initiative.
The cyclone information system has already resulted in a reduction in loss of life and property, as evident in the cases of the severe cyclonic storms like Phailin which crossed Odisha coast near Gopalpur in October 2013 and the more recent Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh coast near Visakhapatnam in October 2014. The loss of lives and resources had minimised comparatively in both these cyclonic storms due to the improvement in cyclone information system.
Another initiative taken by the IMD was the communication of cyclone alerts, warnings to disaster managers, farmers and fishermen. One of the important initiatives towards the above outcome has been the introduction of weather disaster alert system for the general public through SMS. This is one step forward taken by the IMD in the Digital India Programme.
According to LS Rathore, the director-general of the IMD, the meteorological department wants to be an active part of the Digital India Programme and hence has taken the initiative to introduce ‘Mobile Seva’ to the public on cyclones, tsunamis, floods and other calamities.
A 24-hour round-the-clock operational system in the web will provide information on the weather to the officials in the IMD. All individuals who are interested in getting weather reports should register themselves in the IMD official website www.imd.gov.in and http://www.rsmcnewdelhi.imd.gov.in/
SMS would be sent by IMD officials to the registered citizens on any kind of impending dangers related to weather and natural calamities. This would give ample time for individuals to protect themselves from the natural calamity and save themselves and their families.
The information on any impending danger should be provided from urban to rural area at an All India level. This should be provided to disaster management officials and all citizens, including the principals of all schools so that the necessary precautionary steps can be taken to avoid casualties. This service will not only give information about the weather calamities, but will also suggest different measures on actions that can be taken by the people and the authorities.
According to IMD officials, the entire process would take almost one year to get operational formally as they need to collect data and assemble it together. It is the responsibility of the IMD to make this SMS-based warning system successful, in collaboration with the department of electronics and information technology and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Also, the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Information Centre and NDMA and other agencies will join hands with IMD to collect and put all data together to create the SMS based alert or warnings for a wide range of users.
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