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Odisha: Know How OSDMA's SATARK System Is Saving Lives From Lightning Strikes

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16 July 2019

Debashish Maharana

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Bhubaneswar: Odisha has registered a decline in human casualty due to lightning by 31 per cent during 2018-19. While 465 lightning deaths were recorded in Odisha during the year 2017-18, it came down to 320 in 2018-19 which is about 31 per cent decline in rate of human casualty.

Odisha has made it possible to save precious lives from lightning strikes by the effective use of Early Warning Communication system (EWCS).

Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) has collaborated with the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES), Thailand for developing an integrated Decision Support System (DSS). The DSS has been named - 'SATARK' or the System for Accessing, Tracking and Alerting Disaster Risk Information Based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge.

Special Relief Commissioner and Managing Director of OSDMA, Bishnupada Sethi who has successfully led the incorporation of EWCS, said, “The DSS – ‘SATARK’ provides real time watch, alert, and warning information for different hazards like heat wave, lightning, droughts, ocean state information and floods.”

The citizens are downloading this app and using the same to get early alerts about lightning incidents. Ever since this technology has been launched, the lightning deaths in Odisha have seen a sharp fall.

“SATARK is a web/smart phone based decision support system aids in provision of timely early warning information for different hazards such as lightning, heatwaves, floods and agricultural risks (droughts). The system translates generic weather forecast products into user-friendly actionable advisories, based on thresholds drawn from historical patterns, to ensure effective preparedness in place to minimise the risk,” said Tarakesh LB, Disaster Risk Modelling Specialist, RIMES.

SATARK utilises a machine learning algorithm to self-learn from each seasonal cycle of operation, and improving on its own advisory generation process, over season. SATARK can be downloaded from www.satark.rimes.int and mobile app is available at Google Play Store.

The Special Relief Commissioner added that OSDMA has also collaborated with Earth Networks of USA to get advance information about lightning and take necessary steps to save lives. “The Earth Networks has set up six lightning sensors across Odisha and is providing information on a regular basis to OSDMA about probable lightning incidents, 30-40 minutes in advance, along with the map briefly showing the area where lightning is likely to strike,” he said.

The information is processed on GIS platform in OSDMA and the geographic coordinates of the probable area of lightning strike is communicated to the state emergency operations centre for sending SMS alerts to the people of that area through Location Based Alert System (LBAS).

The SMS alerts are sent through LBAS to the people who are present in the area likely to be affected by the lightning strike. The entire operations from receipt of the information from earth networks till despatch of the SMSes are completed in 2-3 minutes. The state emergency operations centre is functioning in the office of the Special Relief Commissioner.

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Bishnupada Sethi, SRC Odisha & OSDMA MD

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Tarakesh LB, Disaster Risk Modelling Specialist, RIMES