Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scraping The Bottom Of The Oil Barrel A Significant New Climate Risk

Exploitation of North America’s shale and tar-sand oil reserves could increase atmospheric CO2 levels by up to 15%, a new report from WWF-UK and the major UK financial group Co-Operative Financial Services (CFS) has warned.

Extraction of the projected 1,115 billion barrels of recoverable oil from unconventional fuel sources such as Alberta’s oil sands and Colorado’s oil shale, which involve much more energy intensive procedures for extraction than traditional oil reserves, would significantly increase global risks of dangerous climate change, the report said.

Unconventional Oil: Scraping the bottom of the barrel reported that companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and BP have announced over $CAN 125 billion worth of development in Canada’s oil sands by 2015. Increasing oil prices are also increasing interest in unconventional oil sources has been given added impetus by rising oil prices.

“The extraordinary lengths some oil and gas companies go to in attempting to make the climate-hostile fuels somewhat less so should be re-directed to bringing forward low-carbon energy,” said Ian Jones, head of Responsible Investment at Co-Operative Investments, part of the CFS group.


Polar Ice Check - Still a lot of ice up there

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Urban Mapping Surpasses 50,000 Neighborhoods

USA - Urban Mapping, Inc., the leading provider of location-rich content for interactive applications, today announced it has surpassed the 50,000 mark for United States neighborhood boundary collection. This announcement marks another milestone in Urban Mapping's compilation of neighborhood boundary data represented in more than 2,400 U.S. cities and towns and is coupled with the growth of the company's collection of international boundary data corresponding to 20,000 neighborhoods across Canada and many European countries. Local search, mapping, GIS, location-based services, real estate, social networks and other interactive applications can tap Urban Mapping's neighborhood boundary data through the company's Urbanware: Neighborhoods(TM) database product. 

"When it comes to local, neighborhoods, not ZIP codes, matter -- the postal code was created for two express purposes: deliver mail and settle labor squabbles. Interactive publishers across many verticals -- real estate, automotive, travel, classified and others now recognize the inherent limitations of the ZIP," said Ian White, Urban Mapping CEO. "Our database of neighborhood boundary data is designed to empower these interactive applications with the ability to offer users more precise, location-relevant information. For example, if a person wants to search the Internet for a coffee shop in New York's SoHo neighborhood, she can visit a website or other interactive application that is powered by Urban Mapping's neighborhood boundary database. The end result for the user is a geo-relevant search result or map with a listing of actual coffee shops in SoHo." 

Urban Mapping's neighborhood boundary database is the most comprehensive database of its kind, enabling increased relevance for users and greater precision for advertisers. Urban Mapping accounts for the inherent 'fuzziness' in defining neighborhood boundaries by using a patent-pending data model. By geographically encoding boundaries of thousands of neighborhoods, UMI provides precise latitude and longitude points for every neighborhood. 

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Surveyors Needed

 Looking for surveyors who are experienced, skilled and knowledgeable to handle maps. The job is for Ahmedabad City, initially. nature of the job is to collect the primary data from street such as Road Name, House no, Area, Sub locality, Locality Pin code Turn restriction and the POI ( point of intersect) data collection,

Please contact 

Ashish Upadhyay
Ph: 09974238837
Email: ashishbu@yahoo. com


A caravanserai (Persian: كاروانسرا kārvānsarā, Turkish kervansaray) was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and South-Eastern Europe.

Most typically it was a building with a square or rectangular walled exterior, with a single portal wide enough to permit large or heavily laden beasts such as camels to enter. The courtyard was almost always open to the sky, and the inside walls of the enclosure were outfitted with a number of identical stalls, bays, niches, or chambers to accommodate merchants and their servants, animals, and merchandise. Caravanserais provided water for human and animal consumption, washing, and ritual ablutions. Sometimes they even had elaborate baths. They also kept fodder for animals and had shops for travellers where they could acquire new supplies. In addition, there could be shops where merchants could dispose of some of their goods.

The word is also rendered as caravansarai or caravansary. The Persian word kārvānsarā is a compound word combining ''kārvānsarā (caravan) with sara (palace, building with enclosed courts), to which the Persian suffix -yi is added. Here "caravan" means a group of traders, pilgrims, or other travelers, engaged in long distance travel.

The caravanserai was also known as a khan (Persian خان) or han (Turkish).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

IIT Kanpur proposes micro satellite to ISRO

India - IIT Kanpur has submitted a proposal to the Indian Space Research Organisation, relating to design and development of a micro satellite. 

The micro satellite, weighing around seven kg, can be used as part of disaster management and in cartography, Director IIT Kanpur S G Dhande, said on the sidelines of a conference on Smart materials, structures and systems. 

The project was expected to require a funding of around Rs five to seven crore, he said, adding the proposal on the subject has been submitted to ISRO. 

Highlighting other applications of micro and smart systems, he said currently a railway project was on to test the application of micro and smart system to track down the location of a train en route to its destination. 

The system fitted over the train engine could send data which could be displayed on a screen locating the train's current position on the route. 

The screen could be displayed in coaches for passengers to be updated on their travel. 
The device could also help the driver get information on all the trains travelling on that route, he said. 

Speaking during the inauguration of the conference, G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Isro said that smart materials and technology held huge potential in terms of application. 

Citing an example, he said use of smart systems in cars could help a driver gain information on the proximity of other vehicles and automatically apply brakes. 

Source :

ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-I in September

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch Chandrayaan-I, India’’s maiden mission to the moon, in September.

Talking to ANI in an exclusive interview on the sidelights of a seminar here today, Chairman of ISRO G. Madhavan Nair said that the final tests have been on to launch the spacecraft to moon.

Chandrayaan-I will be launched atop a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), India’’s workhorse rocket with a streak of nine consecutive flawless missions.

The spacecraft would be loaded with six instruments including a high-resolution stereo camera capable of imaging objects about 16 feet in diameter.

It will also carry near-infrared and X-ray spectrometers and a laser altimeter to determine the altitude of the lunar craft for spatial coverage of various instruments.

These payloads will enable researchers to ascertain the composition and topography of the lunar surface.

The engineers have also built a 64-pound impactor that will be dropped from the orbiting spacecraft for a suicidal nosedive into the moon.

The probe will relay video imagery, altitude information and spectral data back to Earth through the Chandrayaan mothership, which will be in a lunar orbit 100 kilometres away.

The remote sensing satellite will weigh 1304 kg (590 kg initial orbit mass and 504 kg dry mass). 

Source :

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Researcher says Gulf dead zone bigger than ever

HOUSTON - A "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas-Louisiana coast this year is likely to be the biggest ever and last longer than ever before, with marine life affected for hundreds of miles, a scientist warned.
"It's definitely the worst we've seen in the last five years," said Steve DiMarco, a Texas A&M University professor of oceanography who for 16 years has studied the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, so named because the oxygen-depleted water can kill marine life.
The phenomenon is caused when salt water loses large amounts of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia that is typically associated with an area off the Louisiana coast at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The fresh water and salt water don't mix well, keeping oxygen from filtering through to the sea bottom, which causes problems for fish, shrimp, crabs and clams.
This year's dead zone has been aggravated by flood runoff from heavy spring rains and additional runoff moving into the Gulf from record floods along the Mississippi.
DiMarco, joined by researchers from Texas A&M and the University of Georgia, just returned from an examination of 74 sites between Terrebonne and Cameron, La. He said the most severe hypoxia levels were recorded in the mid-range depths, between 20 and 30 feet, as well as near the bottom of the sea floor at about 60 feet.
Some of the worst hypoxic levels occurred in the western Gulf toward the state line.
"We saw quite a few areas that had little or no oxygen at all at that site," DiMarco said Tuesday. "This dead zone area is the strongest we've seen since 2004, and it's very likely the worst may be still to come.
"Since most of the water from the Midwest is still making its way down to the Gulf, we believe that wide area of hypoxia will persist through August and likely until September, when it normally ends."
Last year, DiMarco discovered a similar dead zone off the Texas coast where the rain-swollen Brazos River emptied into the Gulf.
The zone off Louisiana reached a record 7,900 square miles in 2002. A recent estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University shows the zone, which has been monitored for about 25 years, could exceed 8,800 square miles this year, an area roughly the size of New Jersey.
DiMarco said a tropical storm or hurricane likely would have no impact on this year's zone, believed to be caused by nutrient pollution from fertilizers that empty into rivers and eventually reach the Gulf.

Wireless tracking system for fishing vessels

Amid protests by Tamil Nadu fishermen complaining of harassment from Sri Lankan Navy in Palk Straits, the state government has okayed plans to fit wireless tracking systems to fishing vessels to enable authorities to respond to distress calls. 

Said to be the first of its kind in India, the radio network will be fitted on shipping vessels in Ramanathapuram district as a pilot project, costing Rs 7.7 crore. The sanction came in the midst of agitation by the fishermen in the district protesting against recent detention of 1,000 Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coral Reefs in the Danger of Extinction



An estuary is a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.Estuaries are often associated with high rates of biological productivity.
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Remains of vast Neolithic site found in south China

 Thousands of ancient artifacts and wooden poles more than 3,000 years old have been unearthed in China's southern Yunnan province, possibly the world's largest site of a Neolithic community, local media reported on Tuesday.  
The poles, found standing 4.6 meters underground, were used as part of building structures for an ancient community that may have covered an area of 4 square km, the China Daily reported, citing Min Rui, a researcher at Yunnan Archaeological Institute, who is leading the excavation team.

The site could be older than the Hemudu community in Yuyao, in Zhejiang province, which is among the most famous in China and is believed to be the birthplace of society around the Yangtze River.

An area of 1,350 sq m has already been uncovered and excavation is ongoing.

"I was shocked when I first saw the site. I have never seen such a big and orderly one," Yan Wenming, history professor at Peking University, was quoted as saying.

Excavation began in January, but the site was actually discovered five decades ago during the construction of a canal along the banks of the Jianhu Lake, about 500 km northwest of the provincial capital Kunming.

Archaeologists have found more than 3,000 artifacts made of stone, wood, iron, pottery and bone, as well as more than 2,000 of the wooden posts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

UN-HABITAT and Lebanese Army in GIS cooperation

Beirut - UN-HABITAT and the Lebanese Army have concluded a cooperation framework to promote and further develop nationwide Geographical Information Systems (GIS) using satellite photographs from space. 

‘In light of the common areas of interest of making available accurate and up-to-date geographic data and turning them into sound human settlements plans, UN-HABITAT and the Directorate of Geographic Affairs (DGA) – Lebanese Army concluded a cooperation framework to promote and further develop the nationwide GIS and mapping tools available within the DGA,’ a joint statement said. 

According to the statement, the DGA is providing the necessary support to UN-HABITAT recovery project in Southern Lebanon with the aim of establishing three Local Urban Observatories in towns of Tyre, Bint Jbeil and Jabal Amel. 

Under this cooperation framework, UN-HABITAT co-sponsored the DGA Fourth Arab Conference for Geographic Names held in Beirut on June 22 – 27, 2008. UN-HABITAT took part in the parallel exhibition event where publications and documents were displayed and distributed to more than 100 attendants 

The agency is undertaking a series of recovery projects in Lebanon to respond to the massive destruction caused by the July 2006 war. The ‘Good Governance for Post-War Reconstruction’ project is a comprehensive program co-funded by the Dutch, Cyprus and Finnish governments with a total budget amounting to EUR 1.8 million. 

Its main goal is to strengthen the capacities of local authorities, the union of municipalities and community representatives to plan, guide, monitor and control the overall reconstruction process of the 21 towns and villages hit in the raids. 

Source :

European industry feels the heat of high oil prices

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Satellite Imagery Shows Arctic Ice Still Unmelted

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Biosphere Reserves

According to “The Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves,” biosphere reserves are created “to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere.” Under article 4, biosphere reserves must “encompass a mosaic of ecological systems,” and thus consist of combinations of terrestrial, coastal, or marine ecosystems.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ibn Khaldūn

Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun (full name, Arabic: أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون ‎, Abū Zayd ‘Abdu r-Raḥman bin Muḥammad bin Khaldūn, Amazigh: Ibn Xldun) (May 27, 1332 AD/732 AH – March 19, 1406 AD/808 AH), was a famous historian, scholar, theologian, and statesman born in North Africa in present-day Tunisia.He is best known for his Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomenon in Greek), the first volume of his book o universal history, Kitab al-Ibar.. He is one of those shining stars that contributed so richly to the understanding of Civilization. In order for one to understand and appreciate his work, one must understand his life. He lived a life in search of stability and influence. He came from a family of scholars and politicians and he intended to live up to both expectations. He would succeed in the field of Scholarship much more so than in any other field.

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Green cover study being undertaken in Karachi

Mayor Mustafa Kamal has been plugging development in Karachi as if cement was going out of style. And indeed, if any of the hesitant investors from Washington to Korea gingerly took a tour of the city, they would see that Kamal has been to task with whatever resources he has. The result: bumpy flyovers and underpasses, whose sheer ugliness is forgivable if only for their traffic-jam reducing utility. The behemoth structures, despite being new, look as old as post-boom Detroit or pre-Capitalism Moscow. These roads in the sky appear seemingly out of nowhere and squat over housing colonies that miraculously manage to shrink and expand at the same time...

Air Traffic Control Approves 4cm Resolution Aerial Survey of London

The GeoInformation® Group, publishers of Cities Revealed aerial photography (, announces that it has received approval to survey the whole of London at the highest resolution ever captured. The level of detail is unparalleled, aerial imagery captured at 4cm is of an exceptional quality, and provides a highly detailed view of the world with road markings and street furniture clearly visible. 

Since the events of 9/11 and 7/7 increased national security has meant that it has been difficult for aerial survey suppliers to gain approval on aerial survey flights below 4000 metres. The GeoInformation Group has been granted approval to fly London at an altitude of 1500 metres; the lowest altitude an aerial survey has been flown over the capital. The aerial survey will utilise a twin turbo prop airplane fitted with the latest digital camera technology, which will fly slow enough to achieve image overlaps for stereo viewing. 

Alun Jones, Managing Director commented, “We are extremely excited, and proud, to be the first aerial imagery supplier to be granted such highly sought after Air Traffic Control approval and also to produce the highest resolution aerial photography of the capital ever. The Geoinformation Group has always been a groundbreaking pioneer within the GI industry. 4cm resolution aerial photography is setting a new standard.” 

By capturing London at 4cm The GeoInformation Group will be ensuring that every public and commercial agency responsible for the continued development of London has access to the most detailed and clearest aerial imagery available. 

Source :

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Myanmar’s Cyclone-Damaged Rice Production Regions Monitored with GIS

Subsequent to Cyclone Nargis, a category 3 tropical storm that struck the low-lying and heavily populated coastline of Myanmar on May 2, 2008, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began producing a series of geographic information system (GIS)-based maps of the damaged agricultural areas to accompany its commodity intelligence reports. Published on the FAS Web site, these maps are created using geospatial data and the technology found in ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop software. 

The mission of FAS is to improve foreign market access to U.S. agricultural products, build new markets, improve the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace, and provide food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries. FAS achieves a part of this mission by analyzing global crop production capacity with remote-sensing and GIS tools and by issuing commodity intelligence reports highlighting current international crop conditions. GIS-based maps, available in PDF format, provide a visualization of the analysis performed and often serve as each report’s basis. The commodity intelligence reports issued for the country formerly known as Burma focus on Myanmar’s major rice-producing areas, which have suffered saltwater flooding and heavy rainfall as a result of the cyclone. 

The project included satellite imagery obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite to delineate the postcyclone flooding region. This imagery was combined with rice land-cover classification data from the Landsat satellite program. FAS used ArcGIS to perform spatial analysis and create maps of the damaged rice production regions of Myanmar. These maps revealed the cyclone’s effect on cropland and livestock, the severity of flooding, and the rate of cropland recovery. The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) are using the maps to evaluate the scope of the cyclone’s impact. The information is also been of great interest to the international agriculture industry for determining market impacts. 

“Our GIS maps and flood classification data show that the areas originally inundated by the storm account for approximately 1.7 million hectares of rice, 24 percent of the national rice area, or roughly 2.5 million tons of rice production on a milled basis,” says FAS international crop assessment analyst Michael Shean. “The core region most severely damaged by the tidal wave and high winds, however, accounted for approximately 900,000 hectares of rice land, 13 percent of the national rice area, and roughly 1.35 million tons of milled rice production. In addition, field reports from inside the affected region indicate that within these rice production areas, large numbers of villages were destroyed along with much of their food stocks, livestock, and farming supplies.”

A commodity intelligence report and maps issued June 10, 2008, demonstrate that approximately 80 percent of the original inundated rice production area is still affected by some degree of flooding, though conditions in the core damage zone had improved considerably, with only 418,000 hectares, or 46 percent of the original area, still showing flood effects. FAS will continue to produce reports and maps and perform analysis of Myanmar’s rice production regions as new data becomes available. 

As a complete GIS, ArcGIS allows organizations such as USDA to author data, maps, 
globes, and models on the desktop; serve them to a GIS server; and use them through Web, desktop, and mobile clients. The ArcGIS family of products includes desktop, server, mobile, and online GIS as well as ESRI data. 

Source :

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Global satellite maps to reveal ocean areas where winds could produce wind energy

 Scientists have created maps using nearly a decade of data from NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, which reveal ocean areas where winds could produce wind energy.The new maps have
many potential uses including planning the location of offshore wind farms to convert wind energy into electric energy.
"Wind energy is environmentally friendly. After the initial energy investment to build and install wind turbines, you don't burn fossil fuels that emit carbon," said study lead author Tim Liu, a senior research scientist and QuikSCAT science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California."Like solar power, wind energy is green energy," he added.

QuikSCAT, launched in 1999, tracks the speed, direction and power of winds near the ocean surface. Data from QuikSCAT, collected continuously by a specialized microwave radar instrument named SeaWinds, also are used to predict storms and enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts.Wind energy has the potential to provide 10 to 15 percent of future world energy requirements, according to Paul Dimotakis, chief technologist at JPL.

If ocean areas with high winds were tapped for wind energy, they could potentially generate 500 to 800 watts of energy per square meter, according to Liu's research. Dimotakis noted that while this is slightly less than solar energy (which generates about one kilowatt of energy per square meter), wind power can be converted to electricity more efficiently than solar energy and at a lower cost per watt of electricity produced.
According to Liu, new technology has made floating wind farms in the open ocean possible. A number of wind farms are already in operation worldwide. Ocean wind farms have less environmental impact than onshore wind farms, whose noise tends to disturb sensitive wildlife in their immediate area. Also, winds are generally stronger over the ocean than on land because there is less friction over water to slow the winds down. There are no hills or mountains to block the wind's path.

Ideally, offshore wind farms should be located in areas where winds blow continuously at high speeds. The new research identifies such areas and offers explanations for the physical mechanisms that produce the high winds.

The new QuikSCAT maps, which add to previous generations of QuikSCAT wind atlases, also will be beneficial to the shipping industry by highlighting areas of the ocean where high winds could be hazardous to ships, allowing them to steer clear of these areas.

Scientists use the QuikSCAT data to examine how ocean winds affect weather and climate, by driving ocean currents, mixing ocean waters, and affecting the carbon, heat and water interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere.

Source :

Mohd. Shafi

Born: 1st August 1924, Jaunpur (UP) India.
Died: 9th December, 2007, Aligarh (UP) India. 
Father: Husain Ali
Children: Prof. Mohd. Jamil (Civil Engg., AMU Aligarh), Dr. Bilquees Bano

Education: 1945: B.A. Allahabad University
1947: M.A. (Geography), AMU Aligarh
1956: Ph.D. from London School of Economics with Prof. Dudley Stamp

Career: 1948: Lecturer, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1956: Reader, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962: Professor, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962-84: Chairman, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1966-68: Dean, Faculty of Science
1959-62: Provost, Sir Shah Sulaiman Hall
1984: Professor Emeritus in Dept. of Geography AMU Aligarh
1972-74: Director Academic Program (DAP)
1979-80: Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

1985-1993: Vice-President, International Geographical Union

1987: Member, Royal geographical Society of London.
1992-95: Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

2001: Padama Shri by the Government of India
2001: Bhoogol Ratna Award by Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation, New Delhi.
2002: "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the UGC

Member: The Scientific Committee of the International Social Science Council

“Laureate d’ honneur” by the International Geographical union at Glasgow,
UK. 'Academician' by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Member : Bureau for Promotion of Urdu

President : Indian Geographical Union, Indian Geographical Council.

Mohd. Shafi was born on 1st June, 1924 in historical city of Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pardesh. In 1945, after completing his graduation from Allahabad University, he joined Aligarh Muslim University in M.A. in Geography. 

Association with Aligarh :
Mohd. Shafi completed his M.A. in Geography in 1947. Like other part of the country, Aligarh Muslim University campus was also not safe from the socio-political activities of Indian Freedom movement during this time. But this did not affect the studies of young Mohd. Shafi. After completing his M.A., he joined AMU as lecturer in department of Geography. He completed his Ph.D. from London University in 1956 and was appointed as Reader in Geography department of AMU. His Ph.D. work was well recognized at International level. His research area Agricultural Geography got attention in the research community an department of Geography of AMU Aligarh was declared a center of excellence for the subject buy University Grant Commission and Mohd. Shafi was appointed its Coordinator. His research work on the Food System of India has been recognized with high honors in many countries, and by the United Nations.In 1962, he was appointed as Professor in the same department. In the same year he became Chairman, Department of Geography and served on this position till 1984. He has published 11 books and 130 research papers, and has supervised 34 doctoral works. He also served as Provost for 3 years and Dean Faculty of Science. In 1972, Prof. Abdul Aleem, Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh appointed him as Director of Academic Program (DAP). He served as DAP till 1974. His academic excellence and administrative abilities were noticed by AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. Ali Mohammad Khusro and in 1979 he appointed him as Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. He served as Pro Vice-Chancellor for two years. In 1984, he retired from his services but Department of Geography appointed him as Professor Emeritus.

Professor Shafi is the first Indian Geographer in the Indian sub-continent including SAARC countries to receive this prestigious award at the 30th International Geographical Congress held at Glasgow in U.K. More than 1800 geographers from 81 countries participated in the Congress. The Russian Academy of Sciences also conferred on him its highest award 'Academician'. The Royal Geographers Society, London made him its Honorary Corresponding Member of the Council and the American Geographic Society offered him its Fellowship. In 2002 he has been honored for "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the University Grants Commission. On April 22, 2001 at New Delhi Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation awarded him the maiden Bhoogol Ratna Award, which consists of Rs One lakh and a citation.

In AMU Court meeting on July 5th, 1992, Professor Mohd Shafi was elected as Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University for a period of 3 years.

On 9th December 2007, Professor Mohd Shafi died in Aligarh. He was laid to rest in University Graveyard 'Mintoyee'.

ECP to acquire modern equipment

Pakistan - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is acquiring highly sophisticated and modern information technology equipment to revolutionise the country’s electoral management system, ECP Secretary Kanwar Muhammed Dilshad has said.

“Management Information Systems (MIS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are being acquired and installed at the ECP and the provincial headquarters from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). These will help us in having a foolproof electoral system,” Dilshad told journalists at the ECP Sindh after presiding over a meeting.

Funds for the project are being provided by USAID and other donor agencies and the ECP had also formed a committee to review electoral laws in Pakistan, Dilshad said, adding that the possibility of allowing electronic voting was also under consideration.

Earlier, he presided over a meeting at the PEC Sindh about strengthening of the IT infrastructure at the provincial headquarters. He said that the state of the art infrastructure, which is being procured by IFES on behalf of the USAID, will provide a solid foundation for the successful implementation and operationalisation of the Computerised Electoral Rolls System (CERS).

Provincial Election Commissioner, Sindh, Ch. Qamar uz Zaman informed the meeting that the IT wing at the provincial ECP HQ had developed an ElMS (Employees Information and Management System) which will enable the ECP Secretariat, Islamabad, as well as the ECP Offices to have updated data of all employees serving in Sindh. This will be a role model for other provinces as well, he added. 

Source :

Monday, July 14, 2008

GeoEye's Next-Generation Satellite Arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base

US - GeoEye, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEOY), a premier provider of satellite, aerial and geospatial information, announced today that its GeoEye-1 satellite safely arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California, in preparation for its scheduled launch on Aug. 22, 2008. The 4,300-pound satellite was transported by GeoEye's prime contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems from its manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Ariz. to VAFB.

Bill Schuster, GeoEye's chief operating officer said, "Our launch next month marks the culmination of a great deal of dedication by an extraordinarily talented team. We will soon be able to make available to the U.S. Government and others worldwide the best quality commercial imagery on the market. GeoEye-1, once launched and operational, will further demonstrate the viability of the commercial imagery industry and our ability to provide our key customers the imagery needed to meet critical mission requirements."

"Our Gilbert team has worked diligently with GeoEye to prepare GeoEye-1 for service, and it is rewarding to see these efforts coming to fruition," said David Shingledecker, vice president and general manager of Integrated Space Systems, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. "We look forward to leveraging the successful capabilities of this system in future developments for GeoEye and other government customers."

GeoEye-1 will have the highest resolution of any commercial imaging system -- 0.41-meters or 16 inches for panchromatic (black and white) imagery and multispectral (color) imagery at 1.65-meter resolution. However, due to U.S. Government licensing restrictions, commercial customers will have access to imagery at half-meter ground resolution. The satellite is designed to offer three-meter accuracy, which means that end users can map natural and man-made features to within three meters of their actual locations on the surface of the Earth without ground control points. GeoEye-1 was financed in part by GeoEye's approximate $500-million contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

"The three specifications the NGA desires most are spatial resolution, geolocation accuracy and large-area coverage," said Cyndi Wright, NGA's NextView program manager. "As a mission partner, we believe GeoEye-1 will fulfill these requirements for NGA by providing highly accurate, extremely detailed Earth imagery for broad area coverage and updating geospatial foundational layers and mapping databases."

The main command and control facility for GeoEye-1 is at the company's headquarters in Dulles, Virginia. A back-up command and control site is located at the company's operations site in Thornton, Colorado near Denver. Three other ground stations will be operated or leased by GeoEye in Alaska, Norway and Antarctica for a total of four key ground stations. GeoEye will need multiple sources for primary data reception since the combined daily collection capacity for both the IKONOS and GeoEye-1 satellites will be nearly one million square kilometers. This also allows GeoEye-1 to be in contact with a station about 40 times each day to receive commands and offload the imagery collected on previous orbits. 

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's Wrong with the Sun? (Nothing)

So says NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. "There have been some reports lately that Solar Minimum is lasting longer than it should. That's not true. The ongoing lull in sunspot number is well within historic norms for the solar cycle."

This report, that there's nothing to report, is newsworthy because of a growing buzz in lay and academic circles that something is wrong with the sun. Sun Goes Longer Than Normal Without Producing Sunspots declared one recent press release. A careful look at the data, however, suggests otherwise.

But first, a status report: "The sun is now near the low point of its 11-year activity cycle," says Hathaway. "We call this 'Solar Minimum.' It is the period of quiet that separates one Solar Max from another."
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

An early warning system for land use planners

Spain - Before making large changes to land use, such as new transport networks, it is important to assess what the environmental impact will be. Ideally, the assessment should be conducted as early as possible and to be useful, must be fast and simple with clear recommendations. Researchers have developed a new environmental impact assessment method for changes to large geographic areas, which they believe meet these criteria.

Spanish researchers developed the initial screening process for large-scale land-use plans so that the degree of impact on wildlife habitats and the environment can be rapidly assessed at an early stage, taking into account the sensitivity of zones affected. The method uses eleven criteria to evaluate the natural quality of the environment, listed below. These are closely linked with the fifteen criteria listed in the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive1. 




Air quality






Material assets

The new environmental impact method was used to assess planned reform of the Spanish transport infrastructure. The researchers used a digital Geographic Information System to assess 12 kilometre wide corridors of land alongside planned routes of new roads, urban highways and railways. A score of between 0-3 was given to each area based on the potential impact of the development on the environmental criteria listed above. 

Crucially, the screening process produced clear maps that could be easily understood by all involved in the planning process. It was able to highlight the most sensitive areas, where development should be avoided or more detailed Strategic Environmental Assessments should be undertaken. It also generated less damaging alternative routes at an early stage in the planning process. 

The screening showed that 25 per cent of the land affected by the Spanish Transport Infrastructure Plan 2000-2007 was highly sensitive and would be critically affected, and that a further 14 per cent of land, while slightly less sensitive, was still at serious risk of negative impact. The findings generated positive changes: amendments to the new Spanish Transport Infrastructure Plan 2005-2020 were based on the results of this research. 

The authors argue that while, in countries as large and diverse as Spain, it is difficult to conduct a thorough environmental assessment at initial stages, failure to do so can result in much greater costs at later stages as plans have to be changed. It also puts environmentally sensitive areas at risk. 

This method can be applied to a large volume of information and is effective in contributing to better and more transparent decision-making for large-scale plans to change land-use, the authors write. They recommend that where more detailed Strategic Environmental Assessments are required, these should incorporate the impact on energy resources, pollution, climate and changes in demographic distribution and socio-economic factors. 

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iran test-fires missiles in Persian Gulf

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran test-fired nine long- and medium-range missiles Wednesday during war games that officials said aimed to show the country can retaliate against any U.S. or Israeli attack, state television reported.

Oil prices jumped on news of the missile tests, rising US$1.44 to US$137.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The military exercise was being conducted at the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which about 40 percent of the world's oil passes. Iran has threatened to shut down traffic in the strait if attacked. It was not clear, however, whether the missile test also took place near the strait.

Gen. Hossein Salami, the air force commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, said the exercise would "demonstrate our resolve and might against enemies who in recent weeks have threatened Iran with harsh language," the TV report said.

Footage showed at least six missiles firing simultaneously, and said the barrage included a new version of the Shahab-3 missile, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead. The television report did not specify where the launch took place.

That would put Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.

"Our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch," the official IRNA news agency quoted Salami as saying Wednesday.

The report comes less than a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed fears that Israel and the United States could be preparing to attack his country, calling the possibility a "funny joke."

"I assure you that there won't be any war in the future," Ahmadinejad told a news conference Tuesday during a visit to Malaysia for a summit of developing Muslim nations.

But even as Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have dismissed the possibility of attack, Tehran has stepped up its warnings of retaliation if the Americans — or Israelis — do launch military action, including threats to hit Israel and U.S. Gulf bases with missiles and stop oil traffic from the Gulf.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Wednesday's tests "evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one."

"Those who say that there is no Iranian missile threat against which we should build a missile defense system perhaps ought to talk to the Iranians about their claims," Rice said while traveling in Sofia, Bulgaria.

On Tuesday, Rice and Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg signed a deal allowing the U.S. to base a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic.

A White House spokesman called the tests "completely inconsistent with Iran's obligations to the world."

"The Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of activity," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council.

"They should also refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world," he added, speaking from Japan where President Bush is attending the Group of Eight summit.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said that Iran's missile tests highlight the need for direct diplomacy as well as tougher threats of economic sanctions and strong incentives to persuade Tehran to change its behavior.

John McCain, the Republican seeking the presidency, said the tests demonstrate a need for effective missile defense, including missile defense in Europe and the defense system the U.S. plans with the Czech Republic and Poland. 

In late June, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, who was then the commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said any attempt by Iran to seal off the Strait of Hormuz would be viewed as an act of war. The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, across the Gulf from Iran. 

Israel's military sent warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean for a large military exercise in June that U.S. officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West fears are aimed at producing atomic weapons. 

Iran says its nuclear program is geared only toward generating electricity, not weapons. 

The Israeli exercise was widely interpreted as a show of force as well as a practice on skills needed to execute a long-range strike mission. 

Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli Cabinet minister, set off an international uproar last month by saying in a published interview that Israel would have "no choice" but to attack Iran if it doesn't halt its nuclear program. Mofaz is a former military chief and defense minister, and has been Israel's representative in a strategic dialogue on Iran with U.S. officials. 

On Wednesday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel "does not desire hostility and conflict with Iran." 

"But it is clear that the Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian ballistic missile program is a matter of grave concern," Regev said.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iraq War Pollution Equals 25 Million Cars

The greenhouse gases released by the Iraq war thus far equals the pollution from adding 25 million cars to the road for one year says a study released by Oil Change International, an anti petroleum watchdog. The group’s main concerns are the environmental and human rights impacts of a petroleum based economy.
The study, released last March on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, states that total US spending on the war so far equals the global investment needed through 2030 to halt global warming.
Of course skeptics and oil companies will be right to ask how these numbers were calculated. The group claims Iraq war emissions estimates come from combat, oil well fires, increaesd gas flaring, increased cement manufacturing for reconstruction, and explosives.


POst Doc Position

There is a call for a PostDoc position in "Plant Ecology and Carbon cycle". The deadline is quite close, 26 july.

Detailed informations can be found at:
Dr. Mirco Rodeghiero
(Forest Ecology PhD)


Fondazione Edmund Mach
Centro di Ecologia Alpina
Viote del Monte Bondone
38040 Trento
Tel:+39 0461-939569
Fax:+39 0461-948190

Monday, July 7, 2008

The GPS Revolution

Throughout the 1960s the U.S. Navy and Air Force worked on a number of systems that would provide navigation capability for a variety of applications. Many of these systems were incompatible with one another. In 1973 the Department of Defense directed the services to unify their systems. The basis for the new system would be atomic clocks carried on satellites, a concept successfully tested in an earlier Navy program called TIMATION. The Air Force would operate the new system, which it called the Navstar Global Positioning System. It has since come to be known simply as GPS. 

The new system called for three components: ground stations that controlled the system, a "constellation" of satellites in Earth orbit, and receivers carried by users. The system was designed so that receivers did not require atomic clocks, and so could be made small and inexpensively. 

The Soviet Union also developed a satellite-based navigation system, called GLONASS, which is in operation today.
GPS Satellite 
GPS satellite launches began in 1978, and a second-generation set of satellites ("Block II") was launched beginning in 1989. Today's GPS constellation consists of at least 24 Block II satellites. The system became fully operational in 1995.
GPS Goes Public
GPS was designed so that civilian users would not be able to obtain the same accuracy that the military could. Nevertheless, civilian as well as military applications were intended from the start. 

After the downing of Korean Flight 007 in 1983 -a tragedy that might have been prevented if its crew had access to better navigational tools- President Ronald Reagan issued a directive that guaranteed that GPS signals would be available at no charge to the world. That directive helped open up a commercial market. 

Deployment of GPS continued at a steady pace through the 1990s, with growing numbers of civilian and military users. GPS burst into public awareness during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. GPS was used extensively during that conflict, so much so that not enough military-equipped GPS receivers were available. To satisfy demand, the Department of Defense acquired civilian GPS units and temporarily changed GPS transmissions to give civilian receivers access to higher-accuracy military signals. 

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Mistral Wind

The Mistral in France is a fresh or cold, often violent, and usually dry wind, blowing throughout the year but is most frequent in winter and spring. It blows from the northwest or north of Europe through the valley of the Rhône River to the Mediterranean. It also affects the whole of Sardinia in Italy.

In the south of France the name comes from the Languedoc dialect of the provençal language and means "masterly." The same wind is called mistrau in the occitan language, mestral in Catalan and maestrale in Italian and Corsican.

The mistral is usually accompanied by clear and sunny weather, and it plays an important role in creating the climate of Provence. It can reach speeds of more than ninety kilometers an hour, particularly in the Rhone Valley

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Solar Winds

The solar wind is a stream of charged particles—a plasma—that are ejected from the upper atmosphere of the sun. It consists mostly of electrons and protons with energies of about 1 keV. These particles are able to escape the sun's gravity, in part because of the high temperature of the corona, but also because of high kinetic energy that particles gain through a process that is not well-understood at this time.

Many phenomena are directly related to the solar wind, including geomagnetic storms that can knock out power grids on Earth, the aurorae such as the Northern Lights, and the plasma tails of comets that always point away from the sun. While early models of the solar wind used primarily thermal energy to accelerate the material, by the 1960s it was clear that thermal acceleration alone cannot account for the high speed of solar wind. An additional unknown acceleration mechanism is required, and likely relates to magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere.
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Saturday, July 5, 2008


Blizzards are severe winter storms that pack a combination of blowing snow and wind resulting in very low visibilities. While heavy snowfalls and severe cold often accompany blizzards, they are not required. Sometimes strong winds pick up snow that has already fallen, creating a blizzard. Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as large amounts of falling OR blowing snow with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 of a mile for an extended period of time (greater than 3 hours). When these conditions are expected, the National Weather Service may issue a “Blizzard Warning”. When a less severe, but still dangerous, winter storm is expected a “Winter storm Watch” or “Winter storm Warning” may be issued. A “Winter storm Watch” is issued in advance and means that there is the possibility of a winter storm affecting your area. Keep alert and stay tuned to TV, radio, and other sources of weather information. A “Winter storm Warning” means a winter storm is imminent or already occurring.
What makes blizzards dangerous?
Blizzards can create a variety of dangerous conditions. Traveling by automobile can become difficult or even impossible due to “whiteout” conditions and drifting snow. If you must drive in a blizzard, be prepared! Make sure your automobile is properly equipped and that you have emergency supplies in case you become stranded or lost.

The strong winds and cold temperatures accompanying blizzards can combine to create another danger. The wind chill factor is the amount of cooling one “feels” due to the combination of wind and temperature. For instance, a strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder. A wind chill chart may be used to estimate the wind chill factor.
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Compilation of a Carbon-Dioxide (CO2) Geological Storage Atlas

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the recognised mitigation measures for the lowering of greenhouse-gas emissions. Assessment of the potential for CCS in South Africa requires a detailed investigation into locating and characterising potential carbon geological-storage sites. This eighteen-month investigation will start imminently and is sponsored by Sasol, Eskom, PetroSA, Anglo American plc and the South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI). The CGS, along with the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, has been appointed to compile and publish the resulting CO2 Geological Storage Atlas. This project by the CGS and aforementioned collaborators was announced by the Honourable Minister of Minerals and Energy, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, at the recently held annual meeting of the International Carbon-Sequestration Leadership Forum in Cape Town.
The atlas, which will be completed by December 2009, will report methodologies and the results of the storage-potential evaluations for all the onshore and offshore basins of South Africa. It will provide ranking of the basins according to risk and tectonic settings, and will discuss storage options. It will also contain illustrated maps showing the geographic distribution of the basins and relevant geological and seismic profiles to support salient findings. Additional data, such as the estimated CO2 storage capacities of basins, the main emission sources, location of industrial complexes and transport issues will also be included.
The production of this atlas constitutes: Phase 1: The CO2-storage prospectivity assessment, which will most likely lead to further research, the development of a pilot project and potentially large-scale pilot CO2 storage ventures in South Africa. Provided that potentially suitable deep-storage sites are identified, the following multiphase approach will have to be adopted:
Phase 2: Carry out confirmatory seismic surveys to investigate likely deep structures inferred from Phase 1 investigations, and synthesise all data with a view to planning the next step of exploration activities (see Phase 3);
Phase 3: Verify by means of deep drilling the seismic-survey findings of Phase 2, and conduct geotechnical testing on recovered drill core and down-the-hole geophysical soundings and tests; document and synthesise all data with a view to identifying the most promising storage reservoirs;
Phase 4: Use all available information to model the reservoir capacities of the most suitable reservoirs selected in Phase 3, model CO2 injectivity (how many wells, and at what spacing and depth) and start with small-scale site tests and monitoring;
Phase 5: If Phase 4 shows promising results, develop an integrated national strategy linking capture, transport and storage options.
Worldwide, storage reservoirs are commonly associated with the sedimentary basins in which oil and gas occur. South Africa unfortunately lacks natural world-class storage reservoirs, but the onshore central basin of the Karoo Supergroup with its substantial sedimentary formations may offer storage opportunities. Offshore sedimentary rocks along the coastline also have some potential for storage.
The CGS is also a cooperative member for a project proposal to the European Commission, which will aim to align the CCS knowledge of South Africa, Brazil, India, Mexico and Colombia with that of Europe. This will include harmonisation of applied methodologies between the listed countries and capacity building in the emerging economies. The initial proposal has passed the first phase of submission and a full proposal will be submitted to the 7th Framework of the European Commission at the end of May 2008.
Source :

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

M'lore: Satellite technology to aid fishermen

India - Will the fishermen of the coastal Karnataka make amends in their methods of fishing operations in the next fishing season which will begin roughly 50 days from today? Sounds unlikely, looking at the irrational fishing habits of our fisher folks. But the help is on the way thanks to the Indian Remote Sensing Applications Centre at Hyderabad, the fishermen in Mangalore, Udupi and Karwar are able to see the type of fish, size of the shoal or the depth of water available.

The IRSAC has put into place this system for the coming season. The Indian Remote Sensing Applications Centre (IRSAC) at Hyderabad has been giving readings of the remote sensing satellite to all the fishing harbours to help the fishermen to track the fish shoals. The system works on the basis of the GPS technology and satellite mapping of the seas. The fisheries department in the state has been asked to make use of this facility for the coming season. To avail the readings of the system the government will have to set up an earth station not bigger than a computer room with modern gadgets. The department of fisheries has moved papers to avail this system and the first one is likely to come up in Mangalore.

According to the statistics available with the fisheries department the fish catch was coming down progressively in the last ten years. The coastal fishermen have landed lesser fish every year since then. The statistics states that the total landings have come down by 20 percent in the last year and it has slid down from 1.80 lakh metric tonnes from the three districts to 1.74 lakh tonnes between 2007-08.

The officials in the fisheries department in Udupi and Mangalore state that this was mainly due to the fishing habits of the fishermen. They net the juvenile fish by using small eyed nets instead of using large eyed net from which the juvenile fish could escape. But with the IRSAC gadgetry this could be avoided and the right type of fish and right size of fish could be caught. This also means that there will be more fish for those fish lovers king size Mackerels, bigger jumbo shrimps and oil sardines!

Source :

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Indian satellite data can be helpful for UAE : ISRO

UAE - Data received from Indian satellites can prove to be very useful to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in its infrastructure development work, according to K. Kasturirangan, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) K. Kasturirangan.
'The data received from our constellation of satellites have a lot of relevance for the UAE and also for this region as a whole,' Kasturirangan, who was here to attend a conference on e-governance in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), told IANS in an interview here.
'ISRO also has a ground station here in Dubai and the data received here can be very useful in their (UAE) infrastructure development work,' said Kasturirangan, director of India's National Institute of Advanced Studies.
Asked to elaborate, he said through the use of geographical information system (GIS) technology, authorities in this Gulf nation can help identify places best suitable for key projects.
'For example, GIS can help them identify where to set up a pipeline, where to build a hospital and the like,' he said.
During the course of the conference, in which an official RAK government e-services portal was launched, Kasturirangan gave a presentation on 'Technology Trends in GIS and IT'.
The conference, organized by RAK e-Government Authority (RAK-eGA), was attended, among others, by RAK's Crown Prince and deputy ruler Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
During the course of his presentation he suggested to the RAK authorities to develop a good educational system and a research and training institute so that a good e-governance system is put in place.
'The RAK authorities want to have a good e-governance system in place. I also suggested to them not to develop the system on their own but to also join hands with the other emirates of the UAE in this endeavour,' said Kasturirangan, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha.
Apart from RAK, the other emirates in the UAE are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujeirah, Sharjah and Umm Al Qawain.
The eminent scientist made three key suggestions in his presentation: to create a database on the lines of India's National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) by integrating the servers of the seven emirates; to create a good educational system that could yield suitable manpower to handle the e-governance system; and to establish a quality institute for education, research and training.
The NSDI portal provides access to information on spatial data that has been developed by several government agencies in India.
An Indian company, Navayuga Spatial Technologies headed by former ISRO scientist Mukund Rao, was last year awarded a contract by the RAK-eGA to develop and implement an enterprise GIS turnkey solution for the emirate.
The company is now engaged in GIS-wiring the entire emirate within 18 months of being awarded the contract.
'RAK is in the process of creating a lot of database regarding land use patterns and related developments,' Kasturirangan said.
'GIS is a key tool that can help them in their efforts.'During the course of his visit to RAK, the scientist also had a one-on-one meeting with Crown Prince Sheikh Saud.
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