Press Release

IIT Mandi professors and the iIoTs team get 3 rd prize in the Development of InnovativePrototypes for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

In October 2018, the Himachal Pradesh Government introduced a state-wide contest for the “Development of Innovative Prototypes for Disaster Preparedness and Response.” Dr. Varun Dutt and Dr. K. V. Uday, Assistant Professors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi; and, the iIoTs group, a student – faculty group incubated by IIT Mandi’s technology incubator, Catalyst, won the 3 rd prize in this contest. The prize was given to the iIoTs team on the development and deployment of a low-cost landslide monitoring system (LMS) by Mrs. Manisha Nanda, IAS and Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) during the celebration of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 th October 2018.

Dr. Varun Dutt and his iIoTs team collecting the 3 rd prize in the Development of Innovative Prototypes for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). From iIoTs group (IIT Mandi), left to right: Priyanka, Praveen Kumar, Ankush Pathania, and Varun Dutt. From HP Government, left to right: Manisha Nanda; Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue), Sh. D.C. Rana, Special Secretary (Revenue-DM), Sh. G.C. Negi, ADM (P) Shimla

Landslides cause major infrastructure damages and deaths globally. According to an estimate, more than 5,000 people are buried alive under landslides with economic losses of more than INR 26,000 crores suffered every year globally. India tops the global landslide list: Landslides cause more than INR 1000 crores/year in economic losses and more than 1000 deaths/year in India. Due to landslides, average losses in Himachal Pradesh alone cost more than INR 550 crores per year and cause more than 200 deaths per year. Given the catastrophic effect of landslides on life and property, iIoTs, a group incubated at IIT Mandi, successfully developed and evaluated an LMS 1that is low-cost and based upon Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-based sensors. This LMS was submitted to the DRR contest and won the 3 rd prize.

The prize-winning LMS has a number of benefits, which include safety to people and/or property in landslide-prone areas, emergency preparedness, early detection of landslide hazards, early warning, and effective landslide disaster response.

The prize-winning LMS has already proven to be a cost-effective system, which helps in monitoring and warning against landslide disasters. In fact, this LMS prevented loss of lives at Kutropi in July this year, when it sounded an alarm that stopped vehicles before a flash-flood. The LMS runs using solar power and batteries. The design has been optimized such that the LMS consumes current in micro-amps, which enables it to run on a pocket-sized low-cost rechargeable battery for more than 6-months. The LMS prototype submitted to the context costed only INR 8,000, where the price of a commercial LMS is likely to be INR 20,000. Currently, the conventional landslide monitoring and warning system costs INR 2 crores. Thus, the prize- winning LMS costs 1/100 th of the cost of a conventional landslide monitoring and warning system. Furthermore, the prize-winning LMS has water-proof casing, which enables it to withstand extreme weather conditions including rain.

Currently, 10+ LMSs have already been replicated at different landslide locations in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh. The iIoTs group, consisting of Dr. Varun Dutt, Dr. K. V. Uday, Shubham Agrawal, Praveen Kumar, Ankush Pathania, and Priyanka, plan to deploy the LMS at several other locations in Himachal Pradesh state and in India. The iIoTs group is thankful to the following agencies for their financial support: Mandi District; National Disaster Management Authority; and Defence Terrain Research Laboratory, Defence Research and Development Organization.