India’s own Geographic information system (GIS) dubbed ‘Bhuvan‘ is now available for download. Bhuvan is currently under beta and is tipped to be as good as (if not better) Google Earth and Wikimapia! It is capable of India specific features, not available in any other competing product. Bhuvan features multiple layers of information showing topography, altitude, depth weather and other features helpful in managing public services, internal security, town planning, and infrastructure development activities.
The web-based portal requires an initial plugin download in order to provide promising high-resolution 3-D satellite imagery with smooth video acceleration, Bhuvan offers images of the globe similar to Google Earth but provides best resolutions over the Indian sub-continent with ISRO having plans to expand high-resolution images globally. Bhuvan offers resolution up to 10 meters. Bhuvan can take closer pictures of the Indian Subcontinent as compared to the Google Earth. Bhuvan is capable of taking a zoom level of up to 10 meters, while Google Earth features a zoom level of up to 200 meters.
On the negative side, Bhuvan can only be run off the site, post-login. This means permanent traffic jams. You will get kicked off regularly. The user-interface has good, deep menus but lacks much in the way of help though this is common to most beta-releases. Bhuvan can only be used off Windows platforms, through an Internet Explorer browser with DirectX and MS.Net installed. It is not a “full-screen” app since it sits inside IE. It can only be run off broadband connections that are at least 756Kbps in speed.