[Update 2009-08-12: Bhuvan has been launched, and is accessible here.]
Bhuvan, which means Earth in
Hindu Sanskrit, will be India’s home-grown (3D?) web-based satellite imaging and mapping app when it goes live in March 2009, according to Indian media.
What it will do depends on how much faith you have in this media.
According to the Times of India it will let you “count the lions in Gir or fishermen find concentration of fish in the sea.” The Times also has nonsensical stuff like:
If Google Earth shows details upto 200 metres distance and Wikimapia upto 50 metres, Bhuvan will show images upto 10 metres, which means you can easily see details upto a three floor high building and also add information.
The Times also has what I sincerely hope is misquote by Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair:
“[Bhuvan] will be able to give you an image from only 10 meters away”, he said to the excited gathering.
More believably, imagery will be updated every year, and will be of the Indian sub-continent only. The Times also reports that you’ll have the option of viewing imagery from different dates, which would indeed be a cool feature.
ExpressIndia reports, meanwhile, has what is very likely another misquote:
The ISRO Chairman said with this service they will have mapping of the entire earth, both in terms of the upper land surface and the exotic minerals down below.
That would be nice, if only it were likely to be true.
Joking aside, DNA India has a properly reported article. Salient points:
The data gathered through Bhuvan will be provided to different government agencies for urban planning, traffic management, crop planning, education and forest planning. The data will be available free to users, but very high resolution and customised precision data will be given to agencies at a cost, [ISRO Chairman] Madhavan added. “Integrated with application-specific Spatial Decision Support tools, the application will open up a new era of collaborative mapping in the country,” he said.
But I think this is unintentionally hilarious:
Technical Transfer Industrial Department head YP Rana said, “In scientific lingo, this is an oven-fresh concept, we are working on the details.
Quite possibly Rana was joking, and the reporter didn’t get the joke.
If Bhuvan turns into a web mapping resource that manages to show satellite images of all of India at a constant, say, 2.5 meter resolution, that would certainly be a worthy addition to existing web tools, complementing Google Earth’s 15m basemap with 1m DigitalGlobe imagery for urban areas. It will be especially interesting to find those parts of Bhuvan that are censored, as those are the ones we’ll all have to go check out in Google Earth for Indian military secrets.