Here's what India can learn from the Thailand cave rescue

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The boy's football team trapped in Tham Luang Cave have officially been rescued. The bravery of the people involved can't be discounted, but technology had a large part to play as well.

In India, flooding is just as big an issue. Mumbai gets water logged every season, people on pilgrimages get trapped and residences on River banks are destroyed periodically as water levels rise due to monsoon or flash floods. Urban flooding, specifically, is a not-so-new a phenomenon that's been wreaked havoc all over the country.

In either case, technology can be used for all the right reasons to get the job done.

Tech lessons for India

1. Don't wait for the submarine

Elon Musk wanted to help and had the technology in place do so as well, it's just that it was a little late and the human rescue operation was already underway. Not to mention that the Navy SEALS had already advised against using 'un-tested' technology when the PTT Exploring and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) offered their underground vehicles.

Equipped with sonar scanners that could help create an underwater map of the cave and help divers navigate through the muddy water, it was still recommended that they don't enter since the terrain was very different from what the vehicles were used to and had been tested in.

India, as of now, doesn't have an underwater technology to help with flood operations. Not that it needs to match Elon Musk’s levels, but it would be immensely helpful in any situation people are stuck underground.

Also, don't wait for the submarine. Rescue operations are time sensitive and critical, if you have resources on hand, use them.


2. Map it out

Anyone who's played PUBG or Call of Duty knows that you can see the terrain so much better from a height. It's actually just basic battle strategy. Which is why it made so much sense for the PTTEP, in coordination with InterMap, to create a 3D aerial map of the cave and terrain where the children and their coach were trapped.


Ordinarily, PTTEP uses these drones, which inspect high-risk potential drilling sites, but combined with mapping technology they were able to ascertain potential entry points.

Drones are key. They do away with the human effort of the ground team to manually climb and check each location.

This is important because it goes a long way in simplifying the operation. Drone usage in India, even by government authorities, is hardly prevalent. At most it's being used for spatial surveys and precision agriculture.


Urban flooding, a paradigm that India is still grappling with, could find real relief in such a measure. In the past, underwater expressways and submerged low-rise buildings have proven hard to spot in muddy waters.

3. Pump-di-bump

Too much of good thing can prove to be bad. An abundant water supply is a boon for agriculture, and on the other hand floods have the potential to wreck in, an otherwise, fruitful season.

During the cave rescue, it was India's very own Kirloskar Brothers' Limited (KBL) who provided the know-how to go with the dewatering pumps. On the recommendation of the Indian Embassy in Thailand, the company even had four high capacity specialised Autoprime pumps in place to be picked up from Maharashtra if the need arose.

This measure, and others which are similar, are already being implemented in few areas in India. For example, Grundfos India provides the Chennai City Corporation with mobile pumping stations that are specifically designed for floods. Even Mumbai spends crores on pumps to dewater the city.

4. Calling Houston

The devices that were originally used to contact the missing football team weren't new-age, but actually 20-years old. Issued by Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, these HeyPhones can operate on such a low frequency that those waves can pass through thick rock walls.

More than that, the Thai rescue team also got in touch with Maxtech Networks, an Israeli communication company. These guys provided 19 special handheld devices that could boost the power of the default radio by 20 times. The system works on a 'daisy chain' mechanism that hops voice, video and data from one device to the next.

One of the main obstacles that have to be overcome in emergency disasters is communication. Regardless of whether it is Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh, the gigantic spans of the mountains makes communication a hurdle. Even in 2014, the Kashmir valley was faced with no connectivity and isolation from the outside world when the floods hit.

Floods are not a new phenomenon in India and the headline has, too often, been that poor preparedness is what caused of the disaster. Integrating some tech, making information more public and having some sort of integrated system in place are only the most basic of requirements.
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