You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

Most of you have seen rally cars racing at high speed on country roads with clouds of dust, through forests, rivers and across deserts.  Ever wonder how the timing, route monitoring and safety tracking are done?… (more)

Modern space-geodetic methods of high precision and accuracy were developed because of the benefits that they could bring to geophysics, and now have broad application to almost all branches of geophysics. Geodetic measurement systems involving GNSS and/or InSAR methods are particularly valuable to scientific investigations of the water resources… (more)

This year’s European satellite Navigation Competition saw eight special topic prizes and 17 regional honours awarded along with a €20 000 grand prize. The grand prize winner of the 2009 European Satellite Navigation Competition, Osmógrafo, combines satellite positioning with wind measurement and rescue dogs’ sense of smell in order to better determine which areas have already been covered by search teams… (more)

Do you need to create dense 3D point clouds and detailed surface models of physical objects, and do you want to do it in a cost-effective and efficient manner? A new class of 3D scanning technologies, called photo-based scanning, may be the solution you are looking for… (more)

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) strives to provide an optimal service of social benefits and welfare grants to the population of South Africa. One of the areas identified by SASSA for improvement relates to public accessibility to its service office locations and the services rendered at these points… (more)

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) believes that biodiversity information must be made readily accessible if informed land-use decisions are to be made. SANBI promotes easy and open access to biodiversity information. Through its Biodiversity GIS website it provides free access to biodiversity plans, maps and tools to support research, planning and decision-making… (more)

The use of environmental geographical/geospatial information systems (GIS) is fast gaining momentum in South Africa. One of the useful applications of this tool is in combining multiple lines of evidence in the decision-making process on the outcome of site investigations. As legislation becomes increasingly stringent regarding responsibilities for contaminated site assessments and remediation… (more)

After several unseasonably heavy rainstorms, a 105 hectare landslide occurred at Trapper Coal Mine in northwest Colorado.  In some areas, the slide displaced ground more than 122 m. Several mineable coal seams are located beneath the slide zone. If the slide were to reactivate, by natural catalysts and/or mining activity, loss of life and equipment would be devastating… (more)

The AMEU was recently approached for comment by the Treasury Department of a member municipality regarding some communication they had apparently received from NERSA. This followed some media reports (radio and internet, at least) on warrants being issued for the arrest of the municipal manager, the mayor and the financial head of Umsobomvu Municipality in Colesberg in the Northern Cape because they apparently ignored a court order prohibiting the practice of disconnecting consumers’ electricity because payments for other services were overdue… (more)

Climate change, energy supply and the future for Southern African coal – the focus of global attention is now firmly placed on the twin problems of climate change and the supply of energy at acceptable prices. Energy use and climate change are inextricably linked,  Almost 90% of the world’s primary energy is provided by the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. But the more we consume fossil fuels, the more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.  However the era of using these cheap fossil fuels is coming to an end… ( more)

A feasibility study was conducted at the waste water facility to determine the potential for energy efficiency through aerator control. The basin was monitored and it was found that there was no control; all the aerators were operating all the time and the sewage was over-aerated. The aerators were controlled to determine how many were necessary to ensure sufficient aeration, and it was found that the dissolved oxygen (DO)-levels could quickly swing between too much aeration and too little aeration. This indicated that real-time access to DO-levels was crucial for aerator control.Based on the findings it was expected that  electricity consumption could be reduced by about 38%… (more)

Where are biofuels going? Will European and American politicians now hesitate to turn more food into fuel, as food shortages in the third world create continued headlines? Is Chris Skrebowski, the internationally known editor of “Petroleum Review” correct when he says that the expansion of biofuels’ supply will be much smaller than recently believed? Or are the millions of new motorists that are expected in rapidly developing countries such as India, China, Russia and elsewhere going to decide the issue, by creating a huge new demand for fuels: just as oil supplies around the world are becoming scarcer and more expensive to exploit… (more)

The ISES Solar World Congress 2009 hosted by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa, attended by participants from all over the world resolved that the global target of 100% renewable energies is both attainable and necessary by the middle of the current century.This is motivated on grounds of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The unacceptable backlog in energy supply in the third world countries can only be covered cost effectively and in time by the use of renewable energies. Especially the industrialised countries have to increase their efforts in transitioning to renewable energies… (more)

As I roam the streets at night, unable to sleep because of my heavy chain and shackles, I often wonder how I can prevent others from ending up with the same intolerable burden. I note with concern a sudden richness in pundits on the topic of electricity pricing, which is of course, as one would call it today, a hot topic and wonder what drives people to think about these things.  In my days economic erudition came from Mr. Adam Smith and his ilk, and he was more concerned with the wealth of whole nations rather than in bits and pieces. These days it is all to do with funding and pricing, long run averages, marginal and time-of-use and of course, cost-reflectiveness… (more)

Many companies are beginning to consider the carbon consumption of their ongoing operations and realising that data centres are significant contributors to the environmental burden of business and industry. Research by APC-MGE and others is showing that efficiency varies widely across similar data centres, and – even more significant – the actual efficiencies of real installations are well below the practical achievable best-in-class values. A mathematical model that accurately represents the workings of a specific data center, and accepts as inputs the IT load, outdoor weather statistics, etc., could be used effectively in an energy management program… ( more)

The latest developments in the field of protection testing encompass the testing of relays and protection schemes which use the IEC 61850 protocol. The International IEC 61850 standard is relatively new. It was developed to control and protect power systems by standardizing the exchange of information between intelligent electronic devices (IED) within an automated substation and a remote control link. The substation high speed per-to-peer messaging is accomplished using what is called the “Goose” (generic object oriented substation event) message. This message will be used extensively when performing tests… (more)

Utilities globally are battling with the problem of energy losses. This problem cost utilities billion of rands annually and developing countries are worst hit. Eskom is not immune to this  challenge. Energy losses for Eskom Distribution are defined as the difference between energy purchased, measured at the transmission networks, and energy sold to all distribution customers (measured or estimated). This includes both technical energy losses (energy lost in the electrical networks due to the flow of current or energisation of the system) and non-technical energy losses (caused by various factors, amongst others; energy theft, incorrect or faulty metering, billing, etc), but excludes non-payment or debt management… (more)

Clipsal and holding company, Schneider Electric South Africa have obtained a High Court order enforcing a Supreme Court of Appeal order against Gap Distributors, Lear Imports and Shimon Botbol. The High Court order declared that the respondents were in breach of a previous Supreme Court of Appeal order, where Gap Distributors had been interdicted from infringing registered design A96/0687 by making, importing, using, or disposing of the Lear G-2000 series single electrical socket SYZ – 16 (100 X 100) and double electrical socket S2YZ2 – 16 (100 X100)… (more)

This is a case study into the application of time of use tariffs in the Eskom Western Region undertaken to determine the effect that time of use tariffs have had on changing the load shape to reduce peak loads during peak times. An area in the western region supplied from Houhoek substation was selected and analysis was done on load profile information available for the total load and for all the large power users… ( more)

At the start of 2008, South Africans had a small taste of what life without electrical energy would be like. That’s why Eskom is investing a great deal of energy, finance and technology into understanding the behaviour and status of its complex grid and generation facilities on a national level with an initiative that is known as the Plant Data System or PDS… ( more)

Iona Press Services provides summaries of telecoms updates from the World Bank: Africa region,  Kenya, Rwanda, Liberia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe… (more)

According to  International Telecommunications Union (ITU), information and communication technology is the single most powerful tool humankind has at its disposal to avoid a potential climate catastrophe… (more)

When it comes to predicting the future, Dr. Ian Pearson is one futurologist who generally gets it right. Having worked as an engineer for BT he now works for future consultancy Futurizon.He spoke to the author about his vision for the IT future… (more)

Business communications are becoming increasingly complex and require workers to manage multiple devices, applications  and face-to-face interactions in an attempt to stay productively connected with one another… (more)

Having started business in the early 1960s, Lemsys developed a modular approach for power semi-conductor testing equipment in the 1990s, beginning with the test of dynamic parameters. The main concern of this development was the possibility of building customised equipment – in a relatively short time – with the potential for easy upgrades in terms of power capability… (more)

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the rate of head-in-pillow component soldering defects which interrupts the merger of the BGA/CSP component solder spheres with the molten solder paste during reflow. The issue has occurred across a broad segment of industries… (more)

The year began on a high note with promises that inexpensive broadband for all would become a reality. But eleven months into the year, none of these expectations have been realised… (more)

More and more companies are seeing the need to be green, but is it just a cost-cutting exercise or has big business really grown a heart? Movies such as “An inconvenient truth” have planted the seeds of the ‘green’ concept. More than merely making the threat of global warming real, it has created a new service industry and a new benchmark by which business ethics are judged… (more)

There is renewed vigour from government to improve local telecoms services and reduce costs.  Assuming that the new minister of communications Siphiwe Nyanda is more effective than his predecessor – not a particularly difficult feat – things may start to look up in the local telecommunications market… (more)

By combining traditional mapping techniques with digital technology, archaeological researchers aim to provide a comprehensive package for understanding domestic space and everyday lives. Data from individual Tipi rings reveal information about past economic and social organisation, domestic and ritual use of space, and worldview… (more)

The Professional and Technical Surveyors Act 40/1984 requires the SA Council of Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) to accredit academic courses as qualifying graduates of those courses for registration in the PLATO categories of professional and technical practitioners. Under Section 19 of the Act there is established the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) one of whose functions is “to investigate the syllabus of instruction and the standard of training” provided by educational institutions… (more)

Whether underground or at the surface, unanticipated earth movement can pose particularly hazardous conditions on mines. Risks include the endangerment of lives, destruction of property and damage to valuable, specialised equipment… (more)

Power substations play a critical role in transporting electricity from power plants to homes, businesses, and factories. However, a typical power grid can be comprised of hundreds of substations that need to monitored and controlled… (more)

Festo, a global leader in pneumatic and automation technology, is involved in an innovative project with South African-based photographer Paul Godard. The project, currently in the prototype stages, involves the development and construction of a highly precise automated dolly cart… (more)

George E Smith, callsign AA2EJ is a radio amateur from Barnegat, New Jersey, USA.  He was one of the three scientists who were jointly awarded the 2009 Nobel prize for physics. The other radio amateur is Joe Taylor W6JT who in 1993 was awarded the Nobel prize for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation… (more)


The Chief Directorate: National Geo-spatial Information (CD:NGI) of the Department of Rural Development & Land Reform held workshops in Cape Town, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg and East London to discuss the National Land Use Classification and Methodology initiative. Various organisations and government departments were identified as key stakeholders in the process, and were invited to attend and participate in the workshops which were facilitated by GeoTerraImage (Stuart Martin) and GIS Global Image (Werner Fourie)… (more)

Thank you for the honour accorded to me to be the 42nd president of the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa. I promise to do my utmost to further the interests of the institute in 2010. Before looking at the year ahead, I want to pay tribute to the hard work done by Udo Pfafferott during his two years as president. Ten years from now, when we look back in history, the presidents during the 10 years in the build-up to the ISM 2010 Conference will be remembered for their vision and ability to make things happen… (more)

An important new South African address standard (SANS 1883, Geographic information – Addresses), has recently been published in three parts.  Serena Coetzee, project leader for the standard, gives an overview of this very versatile standard, explaining among other things why it caters for no fewer than twelve different types of addresses, and how it can accommodate all eleven South African official languages… (more)

by Eileen Leopold, SA Electrotechnical Export Council

On the one hand, business is tough. South African companies are facing increased competition, particularly in Africa. On the other hand, there are still many opportunities in the energy and telecommunications infrastructure markets, and some projects are less at risk of being delayed. These include smaller to medium sized projects and those that involve “niche” technologies. This is exactly the space in which many South African electrotechnical companies excel… (more)

There has been much controversy lately over the mercury content of fluorescent tubes and CFLs. Many people are still unsure about how to dispose of redundant luminaires safely. Following all the discussions on the safe disposal of fluorescent tubes and CFLs, I have attached a sketch of a fluorescent tube breaker that we fabricated for the safe disposal of used tubes.  The pipe that the fluorescent tube slide down can be a piece of  50 mm pipe with the screwed end at the top so that a pipe cap can be used to close it when not in use – or a plug can be used. This pipe must be of adequate length so that when the tube is broken in the drum there is no chance of it shattering outside the pipe… (more)

It was realised some time ago that the standards that deal with the safety of machinery had not kept pace with developments in the automation of machinery. In order to help provide both the safety and productivity of contemporary machinery, safety related control systems themselves often need to use complex and programmable technologies. Machinery safety related control system standards, such as EN 954- 1 (ISO 13849-1: 1999), have served well for many years, but are now too simplistic to cope with the technology. This means a change to the familiar system of “Categories”… (more)

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) officially launched the South African Address Standard, SANS 1883, on 15 and 16 October 2009 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. SABS through the Standards South Africa sub committee SC 71E Information Technology – Geographic Information, and various organisations in both the public and private sectors prepared the series of standards… (more)

Questions about the scalability, performance and reliability of open source software have been answered through its use on such popular websites as Facebook, one of the world’s largest and most innovative applications, and LinkedIn, the professional social networking website that uses the open source database MySQL to handle its database of more than 30-million subscribers. However, it may have taken the reality of a global recession to convince many enterprises that open source computing is ready for prime time… (more)

There is no such thing as “free” data. Someone in the data value chain pays for it. Data has to be sourced or collected, stored, maintained and packaged appropriately for its use to be maximised and this carries a cost.  It is expensive to capture and maintain high quality geospatial data that is accurate, current and fit for use… (more)

Leading players in the world of power consumption are calling for electrical contractors to join forces with value added resellers (VARs) to promote the adoption of more efficient energy use and less wastage in power consumption. The Schneider Electric group believes that every person and every business worldwide is going to be affected by the energy challenge. It maintains that while the world does have many energy sources that will last many generations, we stand to destroy the planet in a few generations if they become depleted… (more)

In this current age of converging systems an airport is probably one of the most information communications technology (ICT) intensive users. All the systems are ICT based running on the TCP/IP platform. All the systems are integrated to form a whole while affording the individual systems the benefit of individuality via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) while sharing a common communications system. To examine the anatomy of this system let us follow a passenger through the system and have a peek at what happens behind the scenes… (more)

For a number of years, products have been developed that can contribute substantially to the efficient use of electrical energy, immediately after installation.  A number of initiatives began to emerge from government (Department of Minerals and Energy) and Eskom which include, among others, the Energy Conservation Scheme, Smart Systems and Solar Water Heating programmes… (more)

The City of Johannesburg is closing off its GIS data in a “cost recovery” move that other South African municipalities are set to follow. This, say some industry players, is not in keeping with Joburg’s plans to become “a world-class African city”. The closed data approach is being questioned in countries around the world, where closed data policies… (more)

Can innovation be taught? Can we teach young people how to change the world? Eskom thinks so. Those of us in government certainly think so. And so do young people. Teenagers appear to be optimistic about their ability to change the world. Three out of four South African teenagers believe that technological or scientific innovation can solve the problems that global warming is creating. If only adults and politicians held the same belief! … (more)

South African building regulations require, in certain situations, the installation of emergency lighting and illuminated emergency signage which is able to operate independently of the mains power supply. Often these requirements are fulfilled using lighting units which have selfcontained battery backups enclosed in the unit, and for reasons of reliability, ruggedness and long service life – crucial characteristics for emergency equipment – nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries are frequently used. This was of interest to the ongoing research project “Flows and Fates of Cadmium in the City of Cape Town”, which has been investigating the use of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal related to mercury, in the city… (more)

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