His Coordinates, Interviews

”Indian RS data products are very competitively priced“

Feb 2012 | No Comment

Dr Vinay Kumar Dadhwal

Outstanding Scientist and Director, National Remote Sensing Centre,
Indian Space Research Organization

What are the main services offered by National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC)?

Historically National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) has offered to Indian users the standard and value-added satellite data, aerial services, maps and consultancy for EO application projects, disaster management information services and capacity building. While for foreign users, services are providing IRS satellite data, establishment and upgradation of ground stations for IRS data reception and RS data contributions from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for disaster agreements such as International Charter and Sentinel Asia. Access to all historic EO data acquired at Shadnagar, about 1000 Terrabytes, is the other service offered by the NRSC. Recently, the NRSC has invested in signifi cantly improving these services that enhance access to EO data and facilitate use in natural resource management and emergency services by
(a) realizing IMGEOS (Integrated Multi-mission Ground segment for Earth Observation Satellites) at Shadnagar Campus to reduce turnaround time (TAT) and increase capacity to deliver more products per day
(b) operating LFDC (Large Format Digital Camera) and ALTM (Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper) to provide all digital aerial services
(c) in addition to standard/ value added RS products, provide Geophysical Products from OCM and Scatterometer of Oceansat-2 and DEM from Cartosat-1, and
(d) provide visualization and selective free EO data access and WebGIS through Bhuvan (http://bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in).

Would you like to highlight key points of Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP – 2011)?

The RSDP 2011 should be seen as next step over RSDP 2001 in facilitating wider access of RS data in the country. Its two key points are, fi rst, that it allows dissemination of RS data from Indian and foreign sensors of 1m and coarser spatial resolution to all users in India (in contrast to earlier limit of 5.8m) and second, it assigns the NRSC the responsibility of data dissemination for this category as well as higher spatial resolutions after following the prescribed safeguards of user certifi cation.

Would you like to share any recent experience where NRSC contribution in terms of importance and utilization of EO data was felt signifi cantly especially in the fi eld of disaster monitoring or management of natural resources?

The NRSC has been at forefront of providing national scale inputs for natural resource management to various Central Government Agencies. Recent completed projects appreciated for relevance and content are Wasteland Change Analysis (2005-06 to 2009- 10) and Land Degradation Mapping of country (specifi cally enriched by integrating National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP), Nagpur fi eld data on soil analysis) while hydro-geological mapping being carried out under Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission (RGNDWM) provides information for locating well for providing water for domestic use. Last year all major fl ood events were mapped for extent and data provided in very short period to state and central agencies for their relief operations. Particularly during last year in September, Orissa fl ood inundation maps were used for relief operations and RS-derived Vegetation Indices for Mandal-wise drought assessment over Andhra Pradesh received commendations from user agencies. It is also acknowledged by the global weather forecasting community is the acquisition of Scatterometer data globally using ground station at Svalbard (Norway) and within 150 minutes for making the geophysical product available for assimilation in weather forecast at Eumetsat.

What is new in Bhuvan? How has been the response= of users to Bhuvan ?

Bhuvan is already in its third version after its launch on August 12, 2009 and has moved from only 3D Indian EO visualization to EO data products, information services and collaborative services in an open system architecture. New facilities are access from mobiles, multi-lingual content (English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu), WebGIS WMS/ WMTS of thematic layers including map composition and user defi ned interactive AOI based statistics generation, data download from NRSC Open EO Data Archive (NOEDA) with visualization, metadata and user log and history. Also to support users who have not downloaded and installed the plugin (10 MB), a 2D OGC compliant visualization on the fl y has been added. User response has been very positive and Bhuvan plugin downloads have crossed 5 lakhs, NOEDA download of free data has exceeded 8000 (since its launch on 28 Sep 2011) and monthly total of daily unique visitors is above 11000 in past six months. In order to further enhance its awareness amongst users, especially students and academia, 7 workshops have been held in past year (Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkotta, New Delhi, Pune and Shillong)

Do you see a growth in satellite imagery market in India? How important is the role of pricing of satellite data in the overall growth of the imagery market?

I definitely expect signifi cant growth in the satellite imagery market in India which comprises
(a) high resolution data for infrastructure, urban planning, cartography and projects related demand by Government as well as commercial users,
(b) natural resource mapping for multispectral mid resolution data, mostly for Government users, and
(c) atmosphere ocean science related data segment. SAR data market will expand with launch of RISAT-1. Prices are important, however, Indian RS data products are very competitively priced. With recent introduction of free download of selected AWiFS and LISS-III archived data on Bhuvan, usability of RS data is expected to substantially increase.

What is your perception about availability and quality of human resources in the field of remote sensing? Is there any initiative at NRSC regarding this?

I understand that RS is being included in curricula at various levels of education and in parallel there has been a quantum jump in the number of University Departments, Institutes and Private organizations offering postgraduate degree and diploma in RS and Geomatics. With students from diverse backgrounds opting for this discipline, the availability of manpower is much higher. The quality may not be uniformly high, but is due to lack of adequate faculty and facility infrastructure at some places. NRSC, through Indian Institute of Remote Sensing at Dehradun, in last decade introduced post graduate degree programmes in Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics and Geohazards.

How has academia been engaged in NRSC programmes?

A multipronged engagement with academia is an important activity of NRSC. Academia is encouraged to directly work with NRSC as a collaborator in many research projects as well as programmes of national importance and when Academia on their own propose a project of relevance to NRSC, they are guided and encouraged to seek funding under the RESPOND programme of ISRO through coordination by NRSC. Limited facilities are also offered to Masters students to carry out their Masters project/dissertation at NRSC in advanced areas of RS data utilization.

What is BHOOSAMPADA portal and what are its objectives?

BHOOSAMPADA is a WebGIS portal (http://applications.nrsc.gov.in) providing free access to land cover/land use layer annually generated by NRSC from multidate AWiFS data. Users can visualize and understand inter-annual LULC changes in regional context, especially as they relate to net sown area and cropping intensity. In addition, year-wise seasonal snow cover and water bodies from 2004 to 2008 on 1: 250,000 scale and vegetation type map can also be accessed from this site.

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