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E-commerce will be able to do deliveries using drones

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E-commerce will be able to do deliveries using drones (Image: Pixabay)
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New Delhi, November 2, 2017: E-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart will be able to make airborne delivery of products to customers in India using drones enabled by technology being developed by the country’s aviation sector, a minister announced on Thursday.

“E-commerce deliveries using drones are certainly going to be possible in India. Companies like Amamzon and Flipkart can deliver products with the tecnological developments we are seeing in the aviation eco system,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said at the Aero Expo 2017 here organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday invited public comments on the draft rules on use of drones, including for commercial purposes, which the aviation regulator hopes to finalise by the year-end. Drones have been classified under five categories based on their weight.

“Aviation is at the cutting edge of technology be it in avionics, software..throwing open the drone industry to experimentation and innovation will really benefit India,” Sinha said.

Noting the various uses of drone technology in areas like oil and gas prospecting, agriculture and in taking pictures, Sinha said use of drones as “air rickshaws” for travelling around a 100-km radius could be a viable proposition.

A few years ago, a drone had been used to deliver a packet to a location at a multi-storeyed building Mumbai. The local police, however, described it as an unauthorised flight in violation of rules.

Noting that this government had brought in the National Civil Aviation Policy, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the sector had notched up 20 crore passenger trips this year, which exceeded the Railways’ 13 crore passengers in their upper class coaches.

“Our journey, however, has only begun because only 3 per cent of Indians actually fly. With our efforts to increase connectivity, we are aiming at 30-40 per cent,” the minister added.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was among the chief guests at the event and released a knowledge paper on the sector.(IANS)

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India Gets to Know its Slums with Drones And Satellites

About 65 million people live in India's slums, according to census data, which activists say is a low estimate

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A metro train moves past a cluster of houses at the Asalpha slum in Mumbai, India, April 12, 2018. (VOA)

Satellites and drones are driving efforts by Indian states to map informal settlements in order to speed up the process of delivering services and land titles, officials said.

The eastern state of Odisha aims to give titles to 200,000 households in urban slums and those on the outskirts of cities by the end of the year.

Officials used drones to map the settlements.

“What may have takes us years to do, we have done in a few months,” G. Mathi Vathanan, the state housing department commissioner, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last week.

Land records across the country date back to the British colonial era, and most holdings have uncertain ownership, leading to fraud and lengthy disputes that often end in court.

Officials in Mumbai, where about 60 percent of the population lives in informal settlements, are also mapping slums with drones. Maharashtra state, where the city is located, is launching a similar exercise for rural land holdings.

Children play as a woman crosses a railway fence at a slum area in New Delhi, India, July 11, 2018.
Children play as a woman crosses a railway fence at a slum area in New Delhi, India, July 11, 2018. (VOA)

In the southern city of Bengaluru, a seven-year study that recently concluded used satellite imaging and machine learning.

The study recorded about 2,000 informal settlements, compared with fewer than 600 in government records.

“Understanding human settlement patterns in rapidly urbanizing cities is important because of the stress on civic resources and public utilities,” said Nikhil Kaza, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.

“Geospatial analysis can help identify stress zones, and allow civic authorities to focus their efforts in localized areas,” said Kaza, who analyzed the Bengaluru data.

About a third of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements, according to United Nations data.

These settlements may account for 30 percent to 60 percent of housing in cities, yet they are generally undercounted, resulting in a lack of essential services, which can exacerbate poverty.

Identifying and monitoring settlements with traditional approaches such as door-to-door surveys is costly and time consuming. As technology gets cheaper, officials from Nairobi to Mumbai are using satellite images and drones instead.

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A man brushes his teeth outside a shanty in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 27, 2016. (VOA)

About 65 million people live in India’s slums, according to census data, which activists say is a low estimate.

Lack of data can result in tenure insecurity, as only residents of “notified” slums – or those that are formally recognized – can receive property titles.

Lack of data also leads to poor policy because slums are “not homogenous,” said Anirudh Krishna, a professor at Duke University who led the Bengaluru study.

Also Read: Government’s nod Awaited to Start WhatsApp Payment Feature in India, Says Mark Zuckerberg

Some slums “are more likely to need water and sanitation facilities, while better off slums may require skills and entrepreneurship interventions,” he said.

“Lack of information on the nature and diversity of informal settlements is an important limitation in developing appropriate policies aimed at improving the lives of the urban poor.” (VOA)

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