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A disaster is a catastrophic event that disrupts the functioning of a society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses. Disasters can occur naturally, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, or they can be caused by human activities, such as industrial accidents and terrorist attacks. Disaster response is the organised effort to provide relief and aid to those affected by a natural or man-made disaster. It is a broad term that can encompass everything from providing food, water, and shelter to first responders and those affected by the disaster, to long-term rebuilding efforts.

The role of technology is critical for disaster response. It helps first responders locate people and assess damage, identify hazards, and track resources. It also allows agencies to coordinate their response efforts and share information. Technology can be used to predict and track storms, identify potential evacuation routes, and provide real- time updates on conditions. It can also be used to monitor infrastructure, such as dams and levees, and to provide warnings about impending dangers. In the aftermath of a disaster, technology can be used to help with search and rescue efforts, to provide information about shelter and resources, and to facilitate communication between survivors and loved ones. It can also be used to aid in recovery efforts, such as identifying damaged buildings and assessing the stability of bridges and roads.

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Extended reality (XR) is a term referring to all real-and-virtual combined environments and objects that can be sensed and interacted with in a natural way. This includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and extended reality
(XR) technology. XR is a new and emerging technology that is quickly gaining popularity and momentum. It has the potential to change the way we interact with the world and has a wide range of applications across many different industries.

One of the most important aspects of extended reality is the ability to blur the lines between the virtual and physical world. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most common is through the use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) and other wearable computing devices. These devices allow users to see and interact with virtual objects as if they were real.

For instance, the goal of VR is to create a realistic, immersive experience that allows users to interact with the environment in a natural way. VR systems use a variety of sensors and tracking devices to track the user's position and movements. This information is used to generate a realistic 3D environment that responds to the user's movements. Most VR systems require the use of HMDs to provide the user with a realistic experience. HMDs use a variety of display technologies, such as LCDs or OLEDs, to provide a high-resolution, wide field-of-view image. The image is typically refreshed at a rate of 60 or 90 frames per second to avoid motion sickness. Gloves or other hand-tracking devices are often used in VR systems to track the user's hand movements. This allows the user to interact with the environment in a natural way, such as picking up objects or opening doors. Controller-based VR systems use a variety of input devices, such as game controllers, joysticks, or trackballs, to allow the user to interact with the environment. These systems often use a combination of head tracking and hand tracking to provide a realistic experience.

Virtual Reality in Disaster Management

Virtual reality (VR) technology is an extremely useful technology with wide applications in disaster management. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment that simulates a real or recreated place. Users can interact with the environment using a variety of input devices, such as a head-mounted display (HMD), haptic gloves, or a controller.

In addition to training use-case, VR can provide people in distress who are affected by disasters with a way to connect with loved ones and get data about resources available to them such as shelters and food pantries. VR technology can also be used to create data visualisations of disaster data. This data can be used to help first responders plan their response to a real-world disaster. A “Disaster Response Simulator” puts users in the middle of a virtual disaster, such as an earthquake or hurricane. Users can practice their response to the disaster, including evacuating people and providing first aid.

VR can be used to create simulations of potential disasters, allowing decision-makers to see what could happen and plan accordingly. This can help to improve the coordination of resources and personnel, as well as identify potential weaknesses in plans. VR can also be used to train first responders, giving them a chance to experience what they may face in a real-life situation. In the event of a disaster, VR can be used to provide a virtual aid in the form of information and instructions. This can be particularly useful in areas where physical access is difficult or dangerous, such as in the aftermath of a fire or earthquake. VR can also be used to create digital maps of affected areas, which can be used to plan rescue and relief efforts.

VR technology is still in its early stages, but it has great potential to help with disaster management. By providing a way to visualise potential disasters and plan for them more effectively, VR can help to save lives and minimise the damage caused by events.

National Disaster Response Force

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is the lead and premier disaster response organisation of India. It was established in 2006 and constitutes a multi- disciplinary force with a strength of about 12,000 personnel which is headquartered in New Delhi. The NDRF is trained and equipped to deal with all kinds of disasters including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disasters (CBRN). It is also trained in search and rescue operations in urban and rural areas, building collapse rescue, landslide and flooding rescue and earthquake rescue. The NDRF has 10 battalions located in different parts of India. These battalions can be deployed anywhere in the country on short notice. The NDRF also has a Rapid Action Force (RAF) which can be deployed even faster in the event of a disaster. The NDRF is a force under the guidance of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which is the apex body for disaster management in India. The NDMA is headed by the Prime Minister of India. The NDRF has played a vital role in disaster response operations in India. Some of the major disasters it has responded to include the Gujarat earthquake (2001), the Mumbai floods (2005), the Uttarakhand floods (2013) and the Chennai floods (2015).
AGNIi Mission has continued to strengthen the long-lasting partnership with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), world’s single largest force dedicated to disaster response. The aim of the partnership is to technologically advance, operationally transform and upgrade the NDRF via India emerging innovation. AGNIi has committed to the integration and absorption of the most novel innovations in the realm of disaster response which will contribute to greater accuracy and comprehensiveness in the
assessment and delivery of disaster response. The technologies will bolster the existing capabilities of the force by augmenting expertise in the realm of Situational Awareness, Field Capabilities, Communications and particularly, Training of the Force.

The Mission has successfully showcased and trialed competent virtual reality technologies to be adopted in the training of disaster response of the rescue workers. Extensive technology trials were conducted with 5 BN NDRF Pune in which various start-ups demonstrated AR/VR technologies under the presence of Sh Narendra Bundela, Inspector-General NDRF. The Hon’ble Director-General NDRF, Sh Atul Karwal, also interacted with some of these technologies at the NDRF-SDRF Annual Capacity Building Conference at New Delhi on 7 April 2022.

AGNIi Mission is committed to pursue technology advancement as a priority for the largest disaster response force of the world.

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