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Disaster management through spatial modeling

The geographic information system (GIS) has a great role to play in disaster management activities at all stages of its operations. Disasters are emergency situations which cannot be managed locally. Disasters can be manmade or natural or combination of both. Geographic information system is used in all disaster management activities irrespective of its source as manmade or natural. GIS is stool which can be effectively used in disaster management activities in its all phases. It has a pre event phase, during phase and post disaster phase. Disaster preparedness required. Disaster management is altogether a cyclic operation composed of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. GIS can be effectively used in all these phases of operations and in most of the cases no other techniques can provide such solutions.

Mitigation is the advance prevention and identification of vulnerable zones so that emergencies cannot be turn into a disaster all together. Role of GIS in this phase is the map all vulnerable areas and safe areas in terms of all types of disasters. For this we need to identify all possible disasters in the area, classify them into zones of high risk, medium risk and low rick zones. Here lies the role of GIS. Through GIS technique available spatial domain can be classified. For example, in case of a floods from the major rivers, mapping and modeling using various themes and elevation data in the forms of digital terrain models will ease out in classification of high to low risk areas and provide in the form of map so that planners and decision makers can take better information based decision. SBL multidisciplinary geo spatial team can cater all such mapping and modeling services.

Preparedness phase of the disaster management also require geo spatial services. GIS will help in site selection of shelter areas, location for emergency resource storing facilities. Selection and modeling of evacuation routes is also can be done using GIS techniques. This include road capacity versus population size, direction of travel, where to place relief camps, identification of key tactical and strategic facilities, marking of nearest safe hospitals and public safely facilities. Identifying supply chain of relief materials and its pre routing, mass awareness and training to concerned officers and aiding agencies. The far most important part of GIS at this phase is that to identify the locations of impact, area it will influence, model to how it is spread etc. To achieve comprehensive preparedness, a great deal of information must be gathered and managed. When disasters strike, the right information must be available at the right place to support emergency decision requirements.

When an emergency strike an area, the already amazed spatial data can be effectively used to combat the disaster. Unfolding impact influence area, marking of areas in harm’s way and mass notification can be possible through GIS. Optimizing shelters, routings, estimating effected population and property, assessing quantity of relief materials, advance warnings to nearby possibly affected areas etc will be ease out with the help of GIS

GIS will act as a central data base repository during the recovery phase of a disaster. GIS couples with remote sensing act as an apt tool in assessment of damage and losses incurred. These kinds of spatial data assessment give information on degree of damage to individual properties and aerial extent of the damage. These will enable the planners and decision makers to estimate the reconstructions cost, prioritizing the areas for development.

Ensuring Mine Safety Using Drones

Safety remains to be one of top most concerns in the mining industry. Sadly, miners have succumbed time and again to the dangers that are so characteristic of the mining industry, such as: cave ins/collapses, explosive fatalities, fire breakouts, electrical fires and electrocution, falls from heights and shafts, accidents from vehicles that travel with poor visibility, lack of hazard communication process, illegal entries and of course several other respiratory and health issues as well.

The only way to combat these mining industry safety issues is to leverage automation and resort to drones. Drones are taking wings in the mining industry, and replacing several dangerous tasks that were earlier being done by miners.

During emergency situations in a minefield a drone is dispatched to the site, and live images are relayed to the security team who assesses the extent of damage and responds accordingly, rather going in person as before. Drones relentlessly watch mines and quarries 24/7 and can be programmed to watch certain strategic areas such as stockpiles and equipment areas repetitively.

Drone technology though nascent has already proven how useful they can be in assuring mining safety. As they evolve and become more integrated with mine planning they will play a stellar role in tightening safety measures in minefields.

SBL is playing a key role in the managing of safety in the Nickel mines of New Caledonia. With the help of drones, it provides the mine management with – rectified imagery with accuracy of 5cm and less, elevation (DSM/DTM, contours and spot heights) and 3D mapping data. This imagery and elevation data made available at almost real time enables the mine managers to analyse slope stability and mine pit stability, forecast possible weak spots prone to landslides or caving in and these areas are then targeted for stability precautions which  goes a long way in ensuring absolute safety of these Nickel mines.   

Drones: Cost Effective and Ideal for the Mining Industry

World over mining companies are leveraging drones for various key processes such as: site scoping, mapping, mineral exploration and investigating stockpiles to name a few. Here are some key points related to how drones are cost effective and an ideal partner for the mining industry:

Drone based data collection boosts productivity with better decision making, as surveying projects that used to take months earlier now gets completed in a matter of days. This reduction of man hours and spend on resources and infrastructure is a significant cost saver.

Using drones particularly for underground mining is a big help, as human beings do not have to be exposed to such life endangering mining operations. Additionally, drones enable real-time monitoring and surveillance which arrests illegal intrusion of mine fields.

Drones equipped with sophisticated cameras provide real time aerial footage and 3D maps of mine sites assuring accurate assessments. In fact with the help of drones, mining companies are able to collect more information of their sites than in the past.

Drones have replaced manned aircrafts which are pretty expensive and not suitable when narrow segments of the mines need to be surveyed. And drones are extremely adept at repeating any mining activity several times over with clinical precision.

Especially in the mining industry new ways of using drones are being discovered every day, and usage is bound to increase. In the years to come, we will see drones growing nurtured amply by helpful laws, evolving technologies and patronized by large mining conglomerates.

Digital Image Processing: Retouching the Perception

A pearly white teeth, a spotless shining skin, a wrinkle free clear face – Did you envy all this when browsing a fashion magazine or on your iPhone? If you have, then welcome to the magical world of Digital Touch-Up! Digital Image Retouching is an integral part of contemporary photography.

A picture taken by a professional photographer with the latest gadgets available often needs a digital retouch by an expert image editor. Digital editing gives the picture the required visual impact and enhanced image quality by correcting distortions.

How can digital retouch help you create a lasting impression through your pictures?

  • Corrections in colour, brightness, shades and light, or restoring an image to its original state can make an impact.
  • Digital enhancements such as setting contrast, cropping and optimizing reflections improves the aesthetics of the picture.
  • With the help of digital embellishments a dull, uninteresting image transforms into a visually attractive and eye catching piece of art.
  • Unwanted layers, patches, backgrounds, and distractions are removed thus improving product placement. It also highlights the portion of the image that portrays the best visual cue of the product.
  • Digital editing also provides conversions to different digital formats that are compatible with various gadgets, tools, printers and softwares without quality compromise and pixel distortions.

Today all of us understand the importance of a digital image makeover, whether it is for personal needs or for print, TV or on-line advertisements. Therefore, beautifying an image is barely a few clicks away.

Live Virtual Reality: Changing Sports Viewership Scenario

Without worrying about parking, buying tickets, being jostled in the crowd, commuting the snarling traffic – one can now enjoy a sports game just like sitting at the stadium – but from comfort of the couch.
Having won over the gaming industry, Virtual Reality (VR) has now taken sports field by storm. Live Virtual Reality has made sports games more affordable, immersive, and enjoyable and hassle free. A 360 degree camera, VR headset and an app, all coming together to transport the viewer right into the midst of the action. And there you are, kicking the ball, almost!

VR much in its infancy, has a long road to travel, but it is already making such startling changes in sports viewing for the viewer and player. In the short altered state that the sports buff spends watching a game aided by live VR, they get transported to the scene of game, and the space element dissolves completely making it so real and so immediate.

On the flip side, the goggles that one wears shut out the distractions, which also cuts the social element attached to viewing sports. Because, traditionally our mind-set tends to sit together, laugh and cheer for our sports heroes along with our friends and family. And in certain cases, resolution of the visuals is patchy and some feel that the game becomes unnervingly close.

However, the field of Virtual Reality and Sports is emerging, and there is scope for organizations with the right ideas and the will to implement.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IOT) & Automation: Transforming Lives

Three of the most startling technological advancements are transforming our lives in more ways than one. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things are converging to impact every aspect of our lives sending out clear signals to change the way we think and operate. If liberalization and computerization was the rage just a few decades back, these technology trends of today are driving sweeping changes across industries.

Automation driven by Artificial Intelligence has replaced some of the routine tasks much more efficiently than human beings. It is ready to take up more jobs in the future forcing people to rethink their career prospects. Yes, robots are here to stay. It is evident that automation has raised standards of living, increased literacy rates, lengthened life span and reduces crime rates. Software automation is another interesting dimension which heralds new technology related jobs as well.

Internet of Things (IoT) produces hordes of data, not just volumes, but useful data that can perform a range of activities. From saving cities from disasters and crimes, creating smart homes with connected appliances, offering key medical insights to medical practitioners and enabling communication between self-driving cars the scope of IoT is burgeoning.

Retailers are also getting onto the bandwagon of these three techno shifts to increase sales and attract consumers. They are moving away from traditional brick and mortar stores to online ways of selling and e-commerce platforms.  

While these trends have been around for a while they have never been so powerful or as ubiquitous as now. Interesting dimensions and possibilities are bound to increase in the days to come and impact our lives for the better.  

Post Production for Underwater and First Person Cameras in Virtual Reality: Complex Algorithms VS Right Vendors

Apart from Virtual Reality cameras becoming high end and affording great many features, there are specialized VR waterproof action cameras that one can use underwater and return with high quality Virtual Reality footage. They shoot videos and photos in 360 degrees thus imparting an astounding sense of view. The possibilities of going underwater and hobnobbing with whales and colourful sea life is affordable now, VR has transformed significantly from being land based technological wonder to an underwater based discovery. From exploring submerged ships, caves and sea bed strewn with treasures all of this can be experienced with a VR headset.

Pro underwater stereoscopic 360 systems like the ‘VRTUL 1’ has incorporated the Blackmagic Microstudio 4K cameras to give an extensive new dimension to underwater Virtual Reality.

However, there are quite a few challenges of post-processing the output from underwater cameras, such as:

  • Unlike the output obtained through a VR gear in land, there is no proper texture reference to stitch the footage.Since everything under water is moving there is no reference point to use for overlapping or stitch binding.
  • In Stereo shots, there is a slight deviation in milliseconds on how the left and right view appears, which involves manual stitching.
  • Apart from the normal changes in VR post production, the underwater shots have an effect created by waves which adds to an additional effort in post -production.
  • Lack of sync information in the underwater VR leads to issues while stitching.

Our Head of VR production, Mr. Venugopalan says; “Manual stitching is necessary to overcome the challenges in underwater VR and SBL proves to be the right candidate in this arena. We are one of the pioneers to have undergone VR post production challenges in an early stage and have developed a steady pipeline with Nuke and CARA which enables to produce seamless output. “

So getting onto the VR bandwagon requires careful analysis of the VR ecosystem which involves scrutinizing – hardware, content, accessories, distribution channels, and the existing user base. Hence choosing the right vendor for post-production would be key to a successful VR underwater FPS product. The vendor should be able to ensure proper stitching pipeline, artefacts removal and provide quality of seamless output.

Digital Image Processing: Encapsulating Product Placement

Did you know that larger product images increase sales in online shopping?

From size, to zoom, to alignment and margins, shadows, background, colour, angles and resolution every single tiny aspect of image quality matters in an e-commerce site. Though E-commerce is burgeoning, e-commerce sites are known to grapple with image quality; and unless they get this right grabbing eyeball of consumers will remain elusive.

While we agree that high quality product pictures are integral to the success of an e-Commerce site, how do they achieve this? What is the easy method for e-Commerce sites to get this right? Is DIY possible?

Irrespective of how much an e-commerce sites spend on hiring a professional photographer with the best camera, it still needs – Digital Image Processing. Resolution revisits, color correction, lighting uniformity, background adjustments, intrusion removal and sharpness are all but a few factors when it comes to digitally correcting the images that they plan to host.

Additionally, a few other factors that they need to think about will be:

  • Do they have the resources to manage the voluminous photo portfolio?
  • Do they have the expertise in digital image processing?
  • Are the image formats compatible with the different web hosting plans?
  • Are they aware of the copyright glitches around an image?

Take the help of experts who can retouch your product images to match your requirements and appeal to your online consumers. Our team of professionals can optimize your image editing workflow and save you time and money.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): Impact on Small Area Surveying

Would you spend your effort in analysis of actionable data readily available? Or would you devote time and effort in the actual collection of data? Obviously the former, right?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), referred as Drone is the Man Friday in this process of collecting crucial information that organizations rely on. Drone is the next big thing in surveying technology.

Especially in small area surveys such as mining, agriculture and military operations, UAVs are huge time savers, cost effective and have largely reduced the risk element involved in these fields. Organizations are saving money spent on resources and infrastructure while simultaneously garnering unique and powerful insights with the help of drones. UAVs are commonly used these days in communication, agriculture, remote sensing and transportation.

Some of the benefits of deploying drones in different industries are:

  • It reduces manual effort as it does not require a qualified operator
  • It is safe, easy to use and ideal for being on the move
  • It provides accurate results with little investment
  • It discharges high quality pictures through high end cameras and laser scanners
  • It assures safety as it does away with the human component
  • It can stay up in the air for long duration performing repetitive but precise tasks
  • It can function in fog, darkness and autonomously as well

From informing the farmer on where to spray fertilizers to assessing the extent of damage after a natural disaster, drones can be very handy. Still a nascent development, drones are certainly going to fly higher!

Virtual reality applications scoping new dimensions for Geospatial Information System

I can talk for hours on the importance of Virtual Reality for GIS but then you might have known the facts through industry experts. Just imagine how easy it becomes when you can physically inspect the elements of an area virtually through the advancements in VR. Elements can now be inspected from a First Person perspective and this enables adding head attitude tracking support, and stereo rendering. Thus the user can now explore a 3D virtual earth in first person with his mobile device.

Fresh avenues are opening up in personal, public and environmental health sectors. Be it urban planning and building smart cities, or virtual tourism and 360 degree views, or emergency preparedness of a city/county; GIS applications are trending.

Recently in the newspaper, there were two interesting news items which demonstrates how virtual reality applications in the GIS space are a boon to users.

Firstly, a mix of Virtual Reality(VR), Augmented Reality(AR) and Mixed Reality(MR) was used to facilitate the corporate real estate owners and facilities management by using Microsoft holo lens for the visualisation of maintenance workflows, the overlay of data relevant to physical objects and Building Information Modelling(BIM). This also enables the teams to work virtually without the limitations of the physical space.

Secondly, layering a proposed layer over an actual layer in real time was implemented for urban planners by integrating custom made engines with the VR headsets. This also aids for a transition from virtual reality to augmented reality, exploring even higher dimensions in the space.

As we peek into the future, the possibilities in the VRGIS space are limitless. As it enters other arenas it can afford further useful benefits. If matched well with the industries, VRGIS applications can be leveraged for healthier and safer living.