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Researchers in UK hoping to Root out Modern-Day Slavery in Northern India through Satellite Images

A team of geospatial experts at the University of Nottingham use Google Maps and dozens of volunteers to identify potential sites of exploitation and report them to authorities

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FILE - A laborer carries bricks at a kiln in Karjat, India, March 10, 2016. VOA

Researchers in England are hoping to help root out modern-day slavery in northern India by using detailed satellite imagery to locate brick kilns — sites that are notorious for using millions of slaves, including children.

A team of geospatial experts at the University of Nottingham use Google Maps and dozens of volunteers to identify potential sites of exploitation and report them to authorities.

“The key thing at the moment is to get those statistics right and to get the locations of the brick kilns sorted,” said Doreen Boyd, a co-researcher on the “Slavery from Space” project.

“There are certainly activists on the ground that will help us in terms of getting the statistics and the locations of these brick kilns to [government] officials.”

Anti-slavery activists said the project could be useful in identifying remote kilns or mines that would otherwise escape public or official scrutiny.

“But there are other, more pressing challenges like tackling problematic practices, including withheld wages, lack of transparent accounting … no enforcement of existing labor laws,” said Jakub Sobik, spokesman at Anti-Slavery, a London-based nongovernmental organization.

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Millions of people in India are believed to be living in slavery. Despite a 1976 ban on bonded labor, the practice remains widespread at brick kilns, rice mills and brothels, among others.

The majority of victims belong to low-income families or marginalized castes like the Dalits or “untouchables.”

Nearly 70 percent of brick kiln workers in South Asia are estimated to be working in bonded and forced labor, according to a 2016 report by the International Labor Organization. About a fifth of those are underage.

The project relies on crowdsourcing, a process where volunteers sift through thousands of satellite images to identify possible locations of kilns. Each image is shown to multiple volunteers, who mark kilns independently.

The team is currently focused on an area of 2,600 square kilometers in the desert state of Rajasthan — teeming with brick-making sites — and plans to scale up the project in the coming years.

Researchers are now in talks with satellite companies to get access to more detailed images, rather than having to rely on publicly available Google Maps.

The project is one of several anti-slavery initiatives run by the university, which include research on slave labor-free supply chains and human trafficking. (VOA)

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Google soon be adding Restaurant ‘Wait’ times feature on Search and Maps

Google will soon add wait times of the restaurants in Search and maps.

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Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps
Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps. Pixabay
  • Google is adding a new feature in Search and Maps.
  • It will show the waiting times for any restaurant.

Now it will much easier to find a place in your favorite restaurant with Google Map’s new feature

Tired of long queues at restaurants? Relax as Google is soon rolling out wait times on Search — followed by Maps — that will show you the estimated wait-time at your favorite eating hangouts. 

To see wait times for nearly a million sit-down restaurants around the world that allow walk-ins, just search for the restaurant, open the business listing, and scroll down to the “Popular Times” section.

“There, you’ll see the estimated wait time at that very moment. And by tapping on any of the hour bars, you’ll see the estimated wait for that time period,” Google said in a blog post. You can even scroll left and right to see a summary of each day’s wait times below the hour bars, so you can plan ahead to beat the crowds. Wait-time estimates are based on anonymised historical data, similar to how Google computes the previously launched ‘Popular Times’ and ‘Visit Duration’ features.

In the case of restaurants, Google will now include a pop-up box that appears when you click on a time frame in the popular times’ chart. The box shows the live or historical data labelled as “busy”, “usually busy”, “usually not busy”, etc., along with the wait time, TechCrunch reported.( IANS)

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New Evidence Asserts Mars Environment Over Billions of Years Ago Was Able to Support Liquid Water

River deposits exist across Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet

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FILE - The base of Mars' Mount Sharp is pictured in this August 27, 2012 NASA handout photo taken by the Curiosity rover. VOA

New York, September 19, 2017 : The Mars environment over 3.5 billion years ago was able to support liquid water at the surface, says a study.

River deposits exist across the surface of Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet, according to the study published in the Geological Society of America (GSA) Bulletin.

These deposits are observable with satellite images because they have undergone a process called “topographic inversion” where the deposits filling once topographically low river channels have been exhumed in such a way that they now exist as ridges at the surface of the planet, the researchers said.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

With the use of high-resolution images and topographic data from cameras on orbiting satellites, Benjamin T Cardenas and colleagues from Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, identified fluvial deposit stacking patterns and changes in sedimentation styles controlled by a migratory coastline.

They also developed a method to measure river paleo-transport direction for a subset of these ridges.

Together, these measurements demonstrated that the studied river deposits once filled incised valleys.

On Earth, incised valleys are commonly cut and filled during falling and rising eustatic sea level, respectively.

The researchers concluded that similar falling and rising water levels in a large water body forced the formation of the paleo-valleys in their study area.

“We present evidence that some of these fluvial deposits represent incised valleys carved and filled during falls and rises in base level, which were likely controlled by changes in water-surface elevation of a large lake or sea,” the study said.

They observed cross-cutting relationships at the valley-scale, indicating multiple episodes of water level fall and rise, each well over 50 metres, a similar scale to eustatic sea level changes on Earth. (IANS)

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You Might be able to add Video Reviews to Google Maps Soon!

This feature available on Android devices only for now is likely to be released for the public in the near future

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Google is testing video reviews as part of its 'Local Guides programme. (Representative image) Pixabay

San Francisco, September 15, 2017 : Google is testing video reviews with its “Local Guides” programme that would allow users (who are part of the programme) to shoot 10-second videos right from Maps or upload 30-second video clips from their camera.

To upload video reviews to Maps, the user has to look for and select a place in Maps, scroll down and select “add a photo,” tap the “camera” icon and then hold the shutter to record or upload a short video, TechCrunch reported late on Thursday.

This feature is available on Android devices only for now.

The company introduced this feature to the “Local Guides” about two weeks ago.

Google is now notifying users about it via email and will likely release it for public in the near future,

Previously, users could attach only photographs to locations on Google Maps and there was no option to add videos. (IANS)