Archive for Intelligence gathering

Update — Prasa, Transnet concerns over locomotive height

Update 13 July on the Prasa locomotive clearance problems over parts of the Transnet Rail system

Prasa insisted this past week that the country’s overhead power lines were at least 4.5 metres above the rail tracks and that the new order of the Afro 4000 would pass beneath them comfortably.

City Press now understands that although the power lines are supposed to be no lower than 4.5m, as they many places in the country where overhead wires hang lower than they should be.

Prasa’s own report of February 2014 points out four places where the lines are as low as 4.22m: At such height, the top of the locomotive encroaches too close to the contact wire. This results in a higher driver exposure risk factor.

The normally accepted safe distance between the locomotive roof and cables is at least 150mm.

According to experts, the maintenance on both Transnet and Prasa’s rail lines is in a such a poor state that power lines will have to be raised to provide for the Afro 4000. It is unclear what it would cost who should pay?

Satellites Give Real Time Intel even to INVESTORS

From Bloomberg, Jul 8, 2015

Industrial intelligence gathering takes on a new skill up in the sky. Some 250 miles above the Earth, a flock of shoebox-size Dove satellites is helping to change our understanding of economic life below.

To read the entire article, go to

In Myanmar, night lights indicate slower growth than World Bank estimates. In Kenya, photos of homes with metal roofs can show transition from poverty. In China, trucks in factory parking lots can indicate industrial output (or less output).

Images from these and other satellites, combined with big-data software, are helping to create what former NASA scientist James Crawford calls a “macroscope” to “see things that are too large to be taken in by the human eye.”

Investors can mine them to pick stocks.

“This is one of those really rare game changers that come along very infrequently. For much of the nearly six decades since Sputnik first circled Earth, satellites have been exclusive. They were the domain of the richest governments and companies. Now they are much smaller and relatively cheap.

Planet Labs Inc. Is a San Francisco startup founded in a garage by former NASA engineers. He has one of the largest-ever constellations. More than 50 of its “Doves” orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, snapping high-resolution photographs each day.

Seattle-based BlackSky Global plans to start launching its fleet of 60 satellites next year Those “birds” will scan most of the globe 40 to 70 times a day.

Millions of photos are useless, of course, until they become data. That transformation is the goal for startups such as San Francisco-based Space Know Inc. Its CEO Pavel Machalek says imagery eventually will track all the world’s trucks, ships, mines and warehouses. This may attain what he calls “radical economic transparency.” He created an index of China factory production using algorithms to monitor more than 6,000 industrial facilities.