Odisha's regular trysts with natural disasters have prompted state authorities to explore out of the box solutions to counter nature's fury.
Only last month, a catastrophic summer storm named Fani, comparable to a Category 4 hurricane originating in Atlantic Ocean, had barreled Odisha's eastern coast near Puri. The state's preparedness in moving over 1.3 million people to safety garnered a profusion of accolades. Odisha also showed ample resilience in rebuilding infrastructure after Fani wrought damage worth Rs 12,000 crore.
However, realising its coastline's vulnerability to tropical cyclones and storms, the Odisha government aims to beef up its disaster management apparatus. Its latest effort is to engage homegrown start-ups to complement the government efforts in managing disasters.
A brainstorming session was recently conducted by Start-up Odisha (under the department of MSME, Government of Odisha) for providing a platform to understand the strides made in this space.
For instance, Phoenix Robotix, a tech start-up incubated in NIT Rourkela, that uses technologies like IoT (internet of things) and big data to build a comprehensive ecosystem for "smart cities", has taken up the mantle to solve the problem of unavailability of real-time data on environmental parameters essential for management of urban flooding.
Sources said it is working on building a robust sensor network that can detect water levels in various parts of cities and activate pumping stations to drain out excess water.
Intelligence on location of critical infrastructure, transport routes and choke points in the city can be built in the network to prioritise drainage and consequently expedite relief efforts in those areas.
Another Bhubaneswar-based healthcare start-up, Best RayInfoTech, is working to develop a technology to maintain a steady blood supply in hospitals, especially during a disaster.
Since blood donations cannot be stockpiled, Best RayInfoTech has started working on an IT based solution for dynamic management of supply and demand of blood through prior mapping and pre-planned transfusions.
Start-ups working in the afforestation space also participated in the session. These start-ups leverage Japanese Miyawaki method to create self-sustaining forests in back yards at a minimal cost.
Start-up Odisha is now actively working to connect such start-ups with relevant government departments and agencies, and is exploring opportunities for collaboration.
“Every problem creates an opportunity. Odisha being a disaster prone state provides space for the start-ups to create technology that has a huge scope. There are enormous opportunities for the start-ups to make business and creating jobs. Fani has created a damage which has given opportunities to build disaster resilient infrastructure and solutions. It is the start ups who can provide solutions to people as well as to authorities”, said Prasanta Biswal, evangelist, Start Up Odisha.