Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Bhuvan - A Review

Swami Nikhilaananda said:

"Bhuvan - an Indian project with a great potential..."

A lot of people heard about a venture by ISRO to create better quality maps using their advanced satellites, but then didn't hear much about it later. The name of the project is Bhuvan, and it is touted to be better than Google Maps. So, let's see a little about Bhuvan (my experience)

Bhuvan - Gateway to Indian Earth Observation

The link to the Bhuvan website is here - http://bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in/index.aspx

For starters, the project looks really good, but I don't believe that it is still completely ready to replace Google Maps. In fact, it is far from it. The moment you visit the site, you have an option to Enter Bhuvan in 2D or 3D mode. If you click on the 2D mode, you are taken to a page where you can view the whole world in a flat map-like mode, and you can navigate and zoom in, just like in Google Maps. However, you will pretty soon realise that the maximum zoom level is far from satisfactory, although Bhuvan claims to have a much better zoom level (see towards end)

This particular 2D mode is not really interesting. What's more interesting is the 3D mode. To use that, you have to download an executable from their Downloads page. Also, you should be having Windows XP/Vista and Firefox. When I tried to run it on Windows 7, it didn't work, and their application crashed. It will also insist that you have Firefox installed on your system. Also, note that it doesn't run on Mac OSX nor Linux (and is mentioned on their website, and they also say that they will support it subsequently). The 2D version being a web based app, is browser independent and OS independent as well.

However, when you use the 3D application, you will see that it is a lot more impressive, and shows great potential. But even in this mode, the maximum zoom level doesn't seem to be going below around 2000m. At that height, you can make out clusters of buildings and some roads and water bodies.

Is the zoom really limited to that (around 2000m altitude)?

I don't think so... I am not sure though, I have sent them a mail, and am awaiting their response.

Do you think it is better than Google Maps?

As of now, no... But, it is not a completed project, and it shows a lot more potential than Google maps. It has a host of features including disaster services, weather services, land services, navigation, GPS/GIS and so on. So, definitely a great potential. Also, they have clearly mentioned that it is "Under Testing" at the top. So, till the project is completed, let's have patience. But I believe that this will be a great project and a milestone as well. I hope they allow developers to add on to their tools and provide APIs if they are not already doing it (which I think they are)

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