A map tracking migrants
The map matches “time and spatial data, on administrative facilities in the area, transportation and healthcare facilities of an area and summaries, on the fly, in real time of people passing by,”
- India Observatory, an open-source database, has come up with a GIS-enabled dashboard that includes an India map reflecting the movement of migrants in real time on their long journeys, often on foot, along with facilities and relief organisations on their routes.
- The platform, a collaboration with Anand-based Forest Ecological Security (FES) as its main nodal point, is called CoAST India (Collaboration/Covid Action Support Group).
- It draws information from 55 organisations on the ground, mostly in villages, and aims to make such data available so that it would enable governments and small local civil society groups to be of assistance.
From ecology to migration
- India Observatory was set up in December 2019, with FES focused on ecological issues about forests, water bodies, conservation, etc. that needed “a bird’s eye view or a satellite’s vision”.
- “We had started getting an ability to track natural habitat for all of India. We had data over 1,800 parameters which we mapped… But when Covid-19 broke out, hundreds of persons came forward and we decided to recraft the site to take into account movements of people, we formed a group called RCRC (Rapid Community Response to Covid).
- Placing all the information we have about resources and infrastructure on the ground, along with needs of people passing through or stopping over, needing food, financial support, medical care or facing any other threat, we have a proper grid available, updated regularly.
What it contains
- Four elements are sought to be brought together: location of migrants and vulnerable people, their specific needs, location of key infrastructure on the way which can double up as a rest-centre, or quarantine space and location of relief and rehabilitation providing NGOs and civil society organisations.
- Former ISRO chief A S Kiran Kumar, at a panel in Hyderabad where India Observatory was launched on December 3, 2019, spoke of the importance of developing geospatial data and the importance of it being available to all, government, civil society and industry, to enable its best use.
- But most data held by the National Disaster Management Authority or the Survey of India is usually treated as ‘strategic’ and is not available to the public at large.