Companies & Sectors
Google, Apple using hi-tech mapping cams that can peep into your room

Google has admitted to having sent planes over cities, while Apple has acquired a firm using spy-in-the-sky technology that has been tested on at least 20 locations

London: You think technology has made life easier, safe and secure. Think again. For US tech giants are using military-grade cameras so powerful that they can see into homes to produce aerial maps which can show up objects just four inches wide, reports PTI.

Google and Apple will use new hi-tech mapping planes that can film through skylights and windows, putting privacy at risk, the Daily mail reported.

The technology is similar to that used by intelligence agencies in identifying terrorist targets in Afghanistan, the report said.

Google has admitted to having sent planes over cities, while Apple has acquired a firm using spy-in-the-sky technology that has been tested on at least 20 locations, including London.

The search engine giant will use its spy planes to help create 3D maps with much more detail than its satellite-derived Google Earth images.

Google expects by the end of the year to have 3D coverage of towns and cities with a combined population of 300 million. It has not revealed any locations so far.

Apple is expected to unveil its new mapping applications for its iPhone and other devices today along with privacy safeguards. Its 3D maps will reportedly show for the first time the sides of tall buildings, such as the Big Ben clock tower, the report said.

Current 3D mapping technology relies on aerial images taken at a much lower resolution than the technology Apple is thought to be using. This means that when users 'zoom in', details tend to be lost because of the poor image quality.

Spy planes are able to photograph around 40 square miles every hour, suggesting they would be flying too quickly and at too great a height to access domestic wifi networks.

But experts say the technology is a sinister development that brings the surveillance society a step closer.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, warned that privacy risked being sacrificed in a commercial 'race to the bottom'.

"The next generation of maps is taking us over the garden fence," he said.

"You won't be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures," he warned.

Apple has previously used Google for its mapping services but last year it emerged it had bought C3 Technologies, a 3D mapping company that uses technology developed by Saab AB, the aerospace and defence company.

At the time C3 had already mapped 20 cities and it is believed to have added more with Apple's backing. Its photographs have been shot from 1,600ft and one C3 executive described it as 'Google on steroids'.


SBI says Reserve Bank may cut CRR by 1%

SBI chairman said he expect the central bank to cut CRR by 1% to ease liquidity and lower interest rates

New Delhi: Amid economic slowdown and contracting growth in the manufacturing sector, the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) said it expects 1% cut in cash reserve ratio (CRR) -- the portion of deposits that banks are required to keep with the central bank -- for boosting growth, reports PTI.

"We expect the RBI to cut CRR by 1%...It will ease liquidity significantly and lower interest rate," SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the capital.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its mid-quarter review of monetary policy on 18th June is widely expected to announce steps to boost sagging economic growth, which dipped to nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12.

As per the latest data released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the industrial production during April slowed to 0.1% from over 5.3% in the corresponding month a year ago.

According to the data, the capital goods output declined by 16.3% as against a growth of 6.6% in the same month last year. Mining output contracted by 3.1% in April, as against growth of 1.6% in the same month last year.

In order to ease liquidity position in the market, RBI had on March 9 cut CRR by 0.75% down to 4.75%.

In January, it had reduced CRR by 0.50% to unlock primary liquidity.

On the possibility of cut in short-term lending (repo) rate by RBI in its mid-quarter review, Chaudhuri said, "Repo rate cut is meaningless because is more symbolic and (its impact is) not very substantial".


India's IIP growth slows to 0.1% in April

The slowdown in industrial production is likely to put pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut lending rates at its mid-quarterly review on 18th June

New Delhi: India's industrial production growth rate slowed down sharply to 0.1% in April due to contraction in capital goods and dip in manufacturing output, reflecting the sluggish state of the economy that may prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut lending rates, reports PTI.

Growth in factory output, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), was 5.3% in April last year.

The manufacturing sector, which constitutes over 75% of the index, grew barely 0.1%, as against 5.7% in April 2011, according to the official data released on Tuesday.

The capital goods output declined by 16.3% as against a growth of 6.6% in the same month last year. Mining output contracted by 3.1%in April, as against growth of 1.6% in the same month a year ago.

The slowdown in industrial production is likely to put pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut lending rates at its mid-quarterly review on 18th June.

However, consumer goods production showed a faster growth rate of 5.2% in April, compared to 3.2% in the same month last year.

The consumer durables segment also expanded by 5% in April, as against 1.6% in the same month last year.

Power generation witnessed a slower growth of 4.6% during April, compared to 6.5% in the same month a year ago.

In all, 12 of the 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during April as compared to the same month a year ago.




4 years ago

Thanks to all who have expressed their views here. However, we are finding that many people are using pseudonym or fake identity just to abuse someone or post nasty comments. In addition we are also finding there are too many 'vested interests', which are using this space. Therefore we have decided to close comments on this article. In case you still want to express your views kindly write to the Editor ([email protected]).
Moneylife Digital Team

Gyan Mitra

4 years ago

Any transportation system that has a consistent demand exceeding supply, potentially has great opportunity for growth, provided innovation is invited to ensure safety, increase carrying capacity and improving services.

surajit som

4 years ago

shri Malik,i see you under attack by some phony-sounding names. this means that you are doing a good job. keep it up.


4 years ago

Sure Sucheta, watch this space for hard hitting stuff sometime in the future. But lets hope dear Veeresh won't be trolling us further with more fanciful tales on the railways.

But then, this is your magazine and your site and I wish you good luck. And you too Veeresh. Atleast your heart seems to be in the right place.


Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Gunda 4 years ago

Not this space. You have to write your own articles, to be published separately. Of course, you will be open to the same sneering and attacks from readers like yourself.
Incidentally, just FYI - veeresh malik is the only senior journalist i know who really loves railway journeys. He also travels without reservation, sweats it out non-ac unreserved. spends time visiting railway yards, talking to loco drivers and chatting up people on the way.
Do you??

He loves to travel - has been a sea farer, is an RTI activist and has commuted every week between Pune & Delhi for several years.


In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

If I write something that I have no clue about, then I will deserve all the scorn that someone heaps on me. So yes, when the time comes, separate articles are the way we will do it. If the time comes. So far, I have only seen commentary on my terse corrections from the editor, not on the article they were posted for. Should I assume you agree with his facts and statements?

And if so, will you allow me to write something on how poor kids from Dharavi are subsidizing India's manned Jupiter space mission on which the president is to take her family along for yet another foreign trip? I have secret sources who have given me the inside scoop.

As for travelling, and in unreserved coaches, naah! I just sit in my swanky air conditioned MNC India HQ office, completely isolated from the unwashed masses dreaming up fanciful troll arguments on absolutely factually correct articles. Yep, thats it! That's what I do.

sucheta dalal

4 years ago

Mr Gunda or whoever

Since you seem to know so much about the railways, how about doing a few hard-hitting think pieces for Moneylife instead of spending your time trying to rip into Veeresh Malik?

We all have the same goal -- working towards a better India. So why not help instead of spreading nastiness?


4 years ago

Let me start with saying that my comments have pointed out gaping holes in 'Part 1' of your fiction. Now lets go to Part 2.

You say: Lower revenue earning sleek luxury trains with brand new coaches like Rajdhanis, Durontos and Shatabdis get priorities on scarce shared resources like path, platform, waiting rooms, manpower, track, engine and station. The higher revenue earning freight trains, passenger, express and superfast trains with general unreserved compartments wait it out to provide a clear path—their rakes usually consisting of older coaches and low maintenance as well and nil facilities.

I say: Wow! So, Rajdhanis, Durontos and Shatabdis are lower revenue earning! Care to provide average revenue and profit data compared to a similar size express/superfast/passenger train? Try doing a per coach, per train and per passenger analysis. Your magical sources who gave you this info will also be able to give figures, I am sure.

You say: The typical unauthorised add-on charges levied by the touts vary from about Rs300 for sleeper class to about Rs3,000 for 2AC tickets.

I say: Are 0s being distributed for free now? You certainly seem to throw about a lot of them.

You say: The railway authorities have ostensibly been trying to solve this issue by making the process even more complicated, which only benefits the touts and others outside the system some more, without applying the real fixes, which are to:
a) make the premium dynamic, by a process of automated bidding, which handled transparently and simply, would remove all outside interventions.
b) make the timeline of these Tatkal bookings relative to the scheduled departure of the train.

I say: Finally we agree on something!

You say: And the revenue generated would be diverted to the Indian Railways—whose perishable commodity the reservation is, in the first place.

I say: Precautions here are needed to stop the railways from behaving like a tout in future. If they earn more and more revenue from existing resources, being a monopoly they will have no incentive to invest in upgrade of infrastructure, so that more trains can be run.

If you really want to write on a scam, write on how delays in projects are causing massive cost inflation, benefiting many babus in the process. And about how all the money being spent on unproductive branch lines is reducing money available for increasing capacity of the trunk lines that carry most of the freight and passenger traffic, reducing average speeds of trains and increasing costs.



In Reply to Gunda 4 years ago

Dear "Gunda", thank you for writing in.

1) Statistics and numbers can be twisted and turned any and every way. The big argument I have here is that maybe this article, and more like it, would help persuade the IR to bring out real figures.

2) The larger picture is this:-

# If even some percentage of the present level of revenue leakages was controlled, we would see that the incremental revenue to IR could be used to subsidise the existing sleeper/UR fares.



In Reply to malq 4 years ago

On 1), are you saying that by publishing incorrect information, you are going to push the railways to publish correct information? Sir, for this, I must salute you.


In Reply to Gunda 4 years ago

I see a lot of hot air from you, no facts.
You seem to be personally affected by what Mr Malik has written.


4 years ago

It is more of mismanagement than a scam. The easiest way to reduce the 8:00am Tatkal rush is by saying that Tatkal will open exactly 24 hours before train departure time. This will spread the volume of ticket booking over the span of 24 hours, instead of the morning 1 hour. I am sure this too will have hurdles, but worth exploring.

Secondly, demand controlled pricing may be applied for the upper classes since the facilities provided are more. However, charging the last minute booking from NDLS to Patna in unreserved or even sleeper simply because there is more rush would be unjust.

The second concern I have with dynamic pricing is, presently the trains on IR simply cannot handle the potential passenger traffic. which means the demand will always be manifold the supply. This would lead to the prices spiraling out of control, even for the upper classes.

The recent changes made to the tatkal policy have definitely improved the situation to some extent but there is LOT of scope for improvement.



In Reply to Sriram 4 years ago

"make the timeline of these Tatkal bookings relative to the scheduled departure of the train."

fully agree. not just tatkal, but also the opening day booking should be based on departure from origin instead of 8AM - this will automatically take care of the 'sleeping touts' at railway station & irctc overload in the morning (though i think there is some scam going on there as well)

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