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Lightning alert app fails to a strike chord in Karnataka

Of the 104 deaths between March and May, 94 were due to lightning strikes. Last year, during the same period, it was 64.

Published: 13th June 2018 05:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2018 05:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A mobile app developed by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) to alert farmers and rural folks about an oncoming thunderstorm at least 30 minutes before it strikes has failed to meet its objective. The result is that in the pre-monsoons in Karnataka this year, at least 104 (till June 1) have died mostly owing to lightning strikes.

Of the 104 deaths between March and May, 94 were due to lightning strikes. Last year, during the same period, it was 64. To forewarn people,  KSNDMC came up with a mobile application, called Sidilu (lightning), which is GPS-enabled app which alerts smartphone users about lightning at least half-an-hour before it strikes, that too with an almost-precise location where it would strike.  But in reality, although there are many smartphone users in the rural Karnataka, not many remain online. So, even when Sidilu alerts are sent, they miss them as through the day they are busy with farming activities.KSNDMC Director Srinivas Reddy told TNIE that most of the deaths due to lightning strikes were either farmers or shepherds who were in open spaces when  lightning oc curred.

HOW DOES IT WORK

KSNDMC, with the help of a US-based company fitted sensors at 12 spots in Karnataka. These sensors can know where lightning will strike at least 30 minutes before they occur. KSNDMC has developed a mobile app which reads the data from sensors and alerts the user.  Users are informed about their proximity to lightning strikes — whether they are within 1-km radius, 5-km radius or 25-km radius.



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