Helping Kerala: Transatlantic Collaboration

Western Ghats

Western Ghats

Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has recently joined with the University of Alabama (UA) in Huntsville to help improve Kerala’s landslide alert system and the conservation of the Western Ghats. Both projects are currently in the development phases for testing, but implementations of such projects in Kerala could have profound and lifesaving affects. According to an article in The Hindu, a landslide alert system would be able to help predict landslides and give advanced warning to the authorities in the area.

Placed one kilometer apart above ground, the sensors, which cost about $300 each, register ground movement and record rainfall and soil moisture. The data is transferred to an off-site computer hosting a software model that provides advance warning of a landslip.

If testing proceeds, KSBB would place this system first in the Idukki district, an area known for having multiple landslides during the monsoon season. Predicting landslides in this area can save hundreds of lives, but this landslide alert system is not the only project in development that involves the UA and the KSBB working together to protect this region.

Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular as they continue to develop, and it is this notion that the UA team believe can be used to the advantage of conservation in the Western Ghats. Using an idea called crowdsourcing, this projects looks to the average Smartphone user to collect data on the region. The idea is simple, yet could be surprisingly effective.

You just use the Smartphone to take pictures; the phone itself calculates the geographical coordinates. If you develop a system to collect all the data, it will be uploaded to a database, which can be used by state agencies for analysis…..if you want to use satellite data and generate information on land use change, you need ground information. The satellite image will not tell you what each point is. But if you know a few points, like one location is a banana plantation or deforested patch, then you can train the algorithm or geographical information programme to recognise the land use pattern and analyse it.

The analysis can help the state come up with more effective conservation initiatives to help safeguard the region, in both long and short term levels. These two projects help highlight possible positive impacts of the collaboration between two different organizations. Hopefully in the near future these projects will become a reality, and help save lives and the Western Ghats.

Please click here for the full article on the landslide alert system and here for the full article on smartphones to help conserve the Western Ghats.

One thought on “Helping Kerala: Transatlantic Collaboration

  1. Pingback: Vaidhei Falls Coimbatore - Coimbatore Attractions

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