THE Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has joined hands with the MSSRF to harness the tools of the space age for rural development through a totally interactive satellite network. The ISRO-MSSRF village resource centre (VRC) project is scheduled for launch this month at Thiruvayaru, the birthplace of Saint Thyagaraja.
The network consists of four nodes at Thiruvayaru, Thangachimadam, Sempatti and Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The central node is located at the MSSRF premises in Chennai. The network, based on Ext-C band, uses the INSAT-3A satellite. Each node is capable of sending up to 384 Kbps of data and receiving 1.5 Mbps. With this capability, full video and audio interactivity can take place between the two nodes.
According to ISRO, each of the four nodes can be further expanded using technologies such as Wi-Fi, Wireless and Optical Fibre. The extensions may serve as local clusters around the areas where the ISRO-MSSRF VRC is located. These local clusters can then be linked to the central node in Chennai.
The project seeks to promote a single-window delivery of need-based services in the areas of education, health, nutrition, weather, environment, agriculture and livelihoods. These centres will handle both generic and dynamic information to empower rural communities through spatial information infrastructure, including broadband, Internet, telephone and fax.
The VRCs under this project are expected to help village residents access knowledge at their doorsteps. They will focus on building indigenous skill and imparting training and capacity building. The services of speciality hospitals and doctors would be brought closer to the village residents. The Arvind Eye Hospital in Madurai and the Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute in Chennai have agreed to offer their services through this project. In addition, the VRCs can get connected to any of the 75 hospitals in the ISRO Telemedicine network. They would enable on-line interactions between local farmers and farm scientists. The coastal regions of Thangachimadam will be provided with real time charts for fishing and information on the state of the sea (wave height and so on). Advisories on water and soil conservation and efficient cropping patterns would be provided through the VRCs.