Vietnamese professor developed NASA-funded rainfall observation app
(VNF) - Vietnamese Professor Nguyen Dinh Phu introduced a mobile app that provides real-time rainfall information via user-contributed data last November.
Prof. Phu’s mobile application iRain, available for both Android and iOS devices, is a global real-time crowd-sourced rainfall observation system.
Professor Nguyen Dinh Phu (M) and his team.
iRain provides access to real-time global high-resolution (~4km) satellite precipitation products from the PERSIANN-CCS (Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using the Artificial Neural Networks - Cloud Classification System), which has been developed by the research team at CHRS.
The building block of iRain rests on the satellite precipitation estimates generated by the PERSIANN algorithm which has been under development for over two decades.
The app allows users to visualize real-time global satellite precipitation observations and track extreme precipitation events globally. Users can also use the crowdsourcing functionality of the app to report their local rainfall information to supplement our data.
A useful feature of iRain is that real-time rainfall observation data can be easily shared through social networks i.e. Facebook, Twitter, the app’s description reads.
iRain is the product developed by Prof. Phu and his team through a joint research project, which includes his colleagues at the Center for Hydrometeorology & Remote Sensing (CHRS) at the University of California, Irvine, and the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) at the University of Southern California.
According to Prof. Phu, the significance of the app lies in its offer of credible knowledge of rain cycles and mechanisms of specific geographical locations rather than providing plain weather information.
Shortly after its launch, the application attracted attention and support from a number of published U.S. agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The young Vietnamese professor was sought by international media after he introduced iRain at the seventh annual Sustainable Innovation Forum in Morocco last November.
Despite the initial success, Prof. Phu has admitted that there is still a lot of room for improvement in the app, during an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“There are still shortcomings in the use of satellites for weather observation, and we are working to improve our algorithm,” Professor Phu said. “We are also looking to make our app friendlier to the common user and run better on slow connections.”
( Compiled by VNF )