KOCHI: An app designed by researchers of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University) for disaster management has helped locate, rescue and provide relief to more than 12,000 people stranded in floods all over Kerala, potentially saving dozens of lives.
Researchers at the Amrita Center for Wireless Networks & Applications (AmritaWNA) customized the Android app, called AmritaKripa, to specifically cater to the recent Kerala floods. Within a few days of the app’s launch, over 3,000 entries were recorded in real-time, which helped to locate, rescue and provide relief to more than 12,000 people in all districts across the state.
There were also more than 500 entries from people willing to provide relief-and-rescue services. The app was used in tandem with the “Amrita Help Line” set up by students and faculty volunteers at the university’s Amritapuri campus in Kollam district.
AmritaKripa is a high-performance, multilingual, user-friendly mobile and Web application for the effective and timely management of rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts towards the management of any kind of disaster such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis. It is available for free at Google Play Store. Once registered, app users can select options such as “rescue me now,” “request medical,” “request supplies” and “offer supplies.”
Currently the app works in Malayalam and English, but AmritaWNA will continue to add languages, with the goal of making AmritaKripa an app that can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world. The university authorities have strongly urged people living in disaster prone areas and rescue services to download the free app on their smartphones so that it can be used in times of a natural calamity.
Dr. Maneesha Sudheer, Director of the Amrita Center for Wireless Networks & Applications (AmritaWNA), said, “e want this to be a worldwide app. The Kerala floods were its first deployment, but it is ready to be used in future disasters as well.”
During rescue scenarios, Amrita researchers found that people who required help were not always able to reach helpline numbers due to the limited number of parallel calls that helplines could handle. This was negatively impacting rescue efforts and their timeliness. To address this gap, researchers at AmritaWNA developed the app to connect survivors and rescuers in dynamic and volatile disaster situations.
Some key features of the AmritaKripa app are:
- Ability to request for rescue, medical help, supplies such as food, clothing, medicines, shelter, and services such as water, electricity, telephone services, etc. This feature can be used by disaster survivors and relief-camp coordinators.
- Ability to offer rescue, medical help, supplies such as food, clothing, medicines, services and shelter. This can be used by the relief providers — individuals, organizations and the government.
- Ability to report people missing, people found orphaned, either conscious or unconscious, or dead.
The AmritaKripa app and Amrita’s wireless sensor network for the early detection and warning of landslides were used in parallel to help save many lives during the recent floods in Kerala. Amrita is also conducting research on the use of computer vision algorithms to estimate depth of flood waters based on photos taken from the field.