With just a few days for the monsoon to set in over Kerala, a group of conservationists have joined hands to come up with a unique, hi-tech flood alert system for the Meenachil — a river that has ploughed past its banks every rainy season since 2018.
Thanks to the Meenachil River Protection Council (MRPC), a mobile app that will update the public on the real-time water level, rain fall data and flood risk predictions will become operational on June 5. The app, developed by a team of technical experts led by Jubilant Job, an engineering college teacher, will start off by providing real-time reports of the water level in the water body and move to an Artificial Intelligence-based model to show where flooding may occur over a range of water levels and the extend of the predicted flood.
“To begin with, we have developed algorithms by combining the data sets on rainfall and water level recorded across the Meenachil basin in different periods over the past one year. The accuracy of the predictions , however, can be improved overtime with more data'', noted Mr Job.
As part of the initiative, the MRPC has already installed rain gauges in 40 different locations across the river basin from Vagamon to Kumarakom, besides scales to measure the depth of the river at Bharananganam, Erattupetta, and Kidangoor. The volunteer group is now awaiting the State-wide lockdown to ease for installing another set of 42 rainfall gauges and a few more river-depth scales to improve the data collection process.
The MRPC has also engaged a three-tier system of citizen reporters for collecting the real-time data. “The first is a group of 27 rain gauge-monitors, who operate from specific sub-water sheds and enter the data from their respective rain gauges directly to an online form. They are assisted by a second group of citizen reporters who provide real-time reports on the rainfall and flood level at different locations while the third group of volunteers are those who have joined us through an online invitation'', said Eby Immanuel, General Secretary of the organisation,
The data and reports collected from different locations are currently collated and analysed by a core-committee of experts comprising scientists, environmentalists and government officials and then released to the public through the social media.
Meanwhile, scientists with the Central Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) have now expressed their interest in collaborating with the project.