According to Satyajit Ghosh, senior professor at the school of mechanical building sciences at Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in Tamil Nadu, his team has created image-based mobile phone alerts, connected to the weather research and forecasting (WRF) system.
"Cyclone alerts can save lives and property, but must be easily accessible. Our research explores how the WRF forecast can be interfaced with mobile telephony, which has a deep penetration even in rural pockets of India," said Ghosh.
The paper, published in the journal Atmospheric Science Letters, said that computer scientists at VIT were able to track the genesis, progression and landfall of cyclone Phailin, officially classified as a Category 5 tropical cyclone that hit India in October 2013 - affecting more than 12 million people.
"These evacuations revealed an urgent need for an effective alert system which could forewarn the majority of the population. By converting this information into images suitable for phones, we created a forecasting and warning system accessible to ordinary citizens," added Ghosh.
According to Ghosh, known as an expert on clouds, the global perception of India's emerging IT prowess is lopsided.
"But our research puts the country's numerical literacy to practical use. Till date, the easy-to-use Weather Research and Forecasting model remains confined to an elite group of users, such as atmospheric scientists and weather forecasters. But not any more," added Ghosh.
India has a mobile phone subscriber base exceeding 929 million people and this is expected to touch 1.15 billion by the end of 2014.
A weather alert system developed for mobiles could reach an estimated 97 percent of the population, concluded the paper.