The commuter rail industry is making progress installing and implementing positive train control (PTC), according to an analysis by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), an advocate for the advancement of public transportation programs and initiatives in the United States.
The advancements reflect the commuter rail industry’s commitment to safety and implementing PTC by the Dec. 31 statutory deadline, APTA said in a statement.
PTC is a complex signaling and communications technology that commuter rail agencies are installing to offer a critical safety overlay on top of an already safe industry. In fact, rail is the safest surface transportation mode and traveling by commuter rail or intercity rail is 18 times safer than traveling by automobile.
The Federal Railroad Administration issued a PTC progress report in July, with the infographic below.
Chart: Federal Railroad Administration, Jan-March 2018
This is in contrast to a previous PTC infographic, released in June 2016.
Chart: Federal Railroad Administration, June 2016
According to APTA, as of June 30, 2018:
91 percent of spectrum has been acquired;
85 percent of 13,698 pieces of onboard equipment have been installed on locomotives and cab cars etc.;
79 percent of 14,083 wayside (on track equipment) installations have been completed;
78 percent of back office control systems are ready for operation;
74 percent of 14,847 employees have been trained in PTC; and
34 percent of commuter railroads are in testing, revenue service demonstration, or are operating their trains with PTC.
“Every year, 30 commuter railroads across America safely carry passengers on 501 million trips,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “With safety as our number one priority, the commuter railroads are making strong and continuous progress in implementing Positive Train Control.”
Under current law (49 U.S.C. 20157), commuter railroads are required to meet the following milestones by Dec. 31. As defined in 49 U.S.C. 20157(a)(3)(B), they are to have:
Installed all PTC hardware (wayside and onboard equipment);
Acquired all necessary spectrum for PTC implementation;
Completed all employee training;
Initiated testing on at least one territory subject to the PTC requirement (or other criteria); and
Submitted a plan and schedule to the Secretary of Transportation for implementing a PTC system.
Upon reaching these milestones by the end of 2018, the commuter railroads must implement PTC as soon as practicable and no later than December 31, 2020.
“Positive Train Control is a critical commuter rail safety enhancement,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). “Implementing PTC at SEPTA, during a challenging period of capital funding, has been an authority-wide commitment. Throughout this effort, our in-house team has been working continuously with Amtrak, our freight partners, and third-party contractors to address technical and interoperability challenges. SEPTA trains on all 13 regional rail lines are equipped and operating with PTC, and SEPTA is proud to have implemented this safety technology for our customers and employees.”
“Implementing Positive Train Control in Chicago’s dense and busy railroad network has been very challenging, but Metra is right where we said we’d be in terms of finishing the job,” said Jim Derwinski, CEO/executive director of Metra, the Northeast Illinois commuter rail system. “Working with our freight partners, we expect to have PTC implemented or in revenue service demonstration on six of our 11 lines by the end of 2018, and to complete the job by 2020.”
The commuter rail industry is moving aggressively to implement PTC as it faces considerable technical and financial constraints. At a time when the national transit state of good repair backlog stands at an estimated $90 billion, the commuter railroad industry’s cost to implement PTC will exceed $4.1 billion, diverting funds from other critical infrastructure priorities.
Since Congress mandated PTC, the federal government has awarded $272 million in PTC grants. Another $250 million was made available in May 2018.
PTC is an unparalleled technical challenge in scale, complexity, and time required. The challenges include:
a limited number of PTC-qualified vendors simultaneously in demand by both the passenger and freight railroad industries to develop, design and test this complex safety technology;
diagnosing and resolving software issues,
securing adequate access to track and locomotives for installation and testing, and
achieving interoperability, as commuter rail systems operate in mixed traffic with other freight and passenger railroads.
http://www.GPSWORLD.com Jueves 16 de Agosto del 2018
NovAtel Inc. has launched its TerraStar-C PRO correction service with multi-constellation support, including the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou constellations.
Combined with NovAtel’s OEM7 positioning technology, TerraStar-C PRO cuts initial convergence times by nearly 60 percent and offers 40 percent better horizontal accuracy than the current TerraStar-C service, the company said.
NovAtel’s TerraStar-C PRO offers a robust multi-constellation solution that provides greater positioning accuracy, availability and reliability than before, the company added. With the growing number of operational GNSS satellites, TerraStar-C PRO offers benefits in challenging signal conditions such as multipath, shading, interference and scintillation. High-rate TerraStar-C PRO corrections provide reconvergence in less than 60 seconds following brief GNSS signal interruptions.
According to NovAtel, TerraStar-C PRO corrections are generated using TerraStar’s proprietary global network of more than 100 strategically located GNSS reference stations. The correction data is delivered worldwide through overlapping geostationary satellites directly to a NovAtel receiver or via cellular IP network.
With OEM7 triple L-band support, TerraStar-C PRO correction signals from up to three satellites can be tracked and used simultaneously, providing continuous correction data reception when the primary satellite signal is blocked.
“TerraStar-C PRO enables higher operational efficiency by allowing users to start operations sooner and continue to work through challenging conditions without interruptions,” said Sara Masterson, NovAtel’s positioning services segment manager. “We continue to build our TerraStar portfolio of services and with the addition of TerraStar-C PRO customers can trust that they have not only a highly-reliable precise positioning solution, but also services that immediately translate to increased productivity.”
TerraStar-C PRO is available immediately as a termed subscription service for agriculture, unmanned, airborne and land applications, such as survey, mapping and GIS and supported on compatible OEM7 products with firmware version 7.05 and later.
http://www.GPSWORLD.com Jueves 16 de Agosto del 2018
How GIS Aided the Rescue Mission in Tham Luang Nang Non
As the world became captivated with the challenge of rescuing the 12 soccer boys and their coach from deep within the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in Thailand, GIS was applied to understand and share knowledge about the cave. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) collaborated with Esri Thailand Ltd. and GIS Ltd. to create a team of mapping and GIS experts at the Geohazard Operation Center. This team supported the rescue mission by applying GIS technology to create cave passage maps and analyse the topography and hydrology of the area.
With expertise in geology, DMR was expected to prepare maps and data. Unfortunately, at the outset of this mission qualified data was not available. The first step was to gather and generate topographic and geologic data, interpret and extract cave information, and analyse the cross section, topography and hydrology of the cave.
DMR closely collaborated with Department of Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Royal Irrigation Department (RID), Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, Royal Thai Navy and others. Many experts and rescuers from every part of the world joined the mission.
Early maps shared by others on social media were found to lack the accuracy needed for a real operation. The first task of the GIS and mapping team was to gather topographic maps, high-resolution Digital Elevation Model data from SRTM and other sources, and essential GIS Layers including the 2D shape of the cave. Geological and mapping experts considered the absolute and relative accuracy of all topographic data together.
With support from the Royal Thai Survey Department (RTSD), high-resolution orthoimagery and stereo pair models from 2007 aerial images were used to search the cave exterior for alternative entrances. Then 2D maps, cave cross-section maps, and 3D perspective views of the area were generated and distributed to the many organisations involved in the form of paper maps and links to ArcGIS Online.
Cave map details initially came from the “Expedition Thai-Maros 1986 and 1987” cave survey that was conducted by French surveyors, however, the cave cross-section map from 1987 was initially missing. The volunteer French translator team from the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University translated this information. Dr Martin Ellis, author of the book The Caves of Thailand Volume 2: Northern Thailand sent it, and it too was translated.
Next, the team discovered that the “Cave Registry Data Archive” from the British Cave Association contained a 2014-2015 survey with data in SRV format. The SRV files were converted into 3D local coordinates system using the GPS reference in both X, Y and Z value. The elevation level of the cave was then generated, and the cave was visualised in 3D. This 3D cave map was distributed and widely used by the field teams, including the British Cave Surveying team, Thai Navy Seal team and Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation staff.
The dive search team had a very difficult task to work in the dark and flooded cave with no guide, working back and forth through the cave for days before discovering the trapped boys. With support from Dr Ellis, the cave survey map of 1987 with cross sections was found. The mapping team registered the dimensions of the cross-section openings and the distance between the sections on a map.
“With this map, the divers could plan and operate their mission effectively,” said Songkorn Siangsuebchart, senior technical consultant, GIS Company, Ltd.
The mapping team also supported the rescue team by calculating the volume of the cave to determine how much oxygen remained. This became an important input to the operations when the boys were found, particularly for section 29-30 where the boys and their coach were trapped.
Diverting the Water Flow
Tham Luang cave is part of a karst limestone mountain ecosystem. When it rains on the mountain, water flows into the subterranean aquifer system and springs out as streams and rivers. With heavy rain in the area, the water level in the cave rose rapidly making a safe rescue impossible.
Groundwater experts drilled and pumped the water at the main entrance. With the pump working all day and night, they realised that they could not keep up with the enormous volume of water flowing through the mountain during the rainy season. The mapping team was tasked with creating a flow diversion model to limit the water entering the cave. Using Arc Hydro, the team worked against the clock to calculate the basin, water flow direction, and water accumulation using the SRTM DEM and a new DEM created from Royal Thai survey aerial images.
“We had to calculate the basin, water flow direction, and accumulation using a digital elevation model, geological detail and details about the dense forest cover in order to identify the origin of significant flows of water inside the cave,” said Chanist Prasertburanakul, senior aerospace mapping manager and team leader of GIS Company, Ltd. and Esri Thailand.
The results of basin analysis showed the drainage area of Ban Pha Hee south of the cave is 4.90 sq. km and in the north at Ban Pha Mee it is 2.69 sq. km. After the flow accumulation model was performed, the team found two sinkhole infiltration points for each of these drainage areas. The Thai Navy SEAL team confirmed this calculation, relaying that turbulent flows were entering the cave from both the north and south.
The x,y coordinates of both sinkholes were sent to the ground teams for inspection. The ground teams comprised of DNP and RID staff surveyed the origin of water and examined the inflow and outflow.
DMR tasked the ground teams with diverting the flow of water. The ground teams first built a check dam at Ban Pha Mee to slow the water flow and used a very long pipeline to divert the flow of water into rice paddy fields. By 1 July, this diversion reduced the inflow from the north by more than 50 percent, however, the water levels in the cave were still high.
Next, the Ban Pha Hee model was run to divert the waterflow in the south. By 4 July, up to 10,000 cubic metres of water was diverted. Additional cracks and sinkholes were found and dammed, and the water level inside the cave was reduced significantly.
Determining Locations for Drilling
DMR considered the possibility of drilling into the cave to safely extract the trapped team. The topographic and geologic information were used to determine the best location to drill.
The cave is approximately 446 metres beneath the limestone and shale rock mountain surface. A cross section was generated along the cave from north to south to estimate the distance between surface and the cave.
ArcGIS Pro was used to calculate 3D distances from potential drill points to the cave interior, calculating inclination angle and azimuth. The distance and angle of potential locations were sent to geological engineers for inspecting the possibility of drilling in each position.
Geologist and GIS experts not only produced useful maps, they also created and integrated spatial information to present to the rescue operation team and decision makers. 3D maps were generated using ArcGIS Pro to help the officers and ground team to identify locations of interest around the cave area. When the hydrologic layers were overlaid on the 3D perspective, it allowed everyone to understand the spatial relationships of the water system.
“Although the roles of geologists and GIS experts who created these useful maps for resolving the crisis are not as prominent as those who worked in the field, the geological maps of the cave structure was crucial to resolving this crisis,” said Dr Somsak Wathanaprida, director of the Environmental Geology section, Thailand Department of Mineral Resources.
The drilling operation was cancelled after the operation team decided to extract the boys and their coach using the dive teams.
Monitoring Water Levels and Rainfall Intensit
The rain forecast indicated that more rain would fall. After the two diversion dams and pipelines were constructed for both the north and south sections of the cave, the rainfall and water level in the cave were continuously monitored.
The rainfall intensity data came from four rain stations installed by Thailand’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC). The rainfall intensity data for the past week was collected from the Thailand Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute website. The weather information was supplied by the Meteorological Department. The water level information was supplied by the DMR ground team and Chiang Rai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation staff inside the cave.
The water level in cave was monitored hourly by the ground staff. DMR, GIS and Esri Thailand used ArcGIS to model the rainfall intensity distribution over the cave area by using IDW-Inverse distance weight algorithms. This model, using spatial interpolation methods for estimating rainfall intensity over the geographic area, illustrated that the depth of water decreased significantly after 4 July.
To summarise, GIS technology helped gather and generate topographic and geologic data; interpret and extract cave information; analyse cross section, topography and hydrology to determine the origin of water; design the water flow diversion; monitor the water level and rainfall intensity; understand the area using 3D visualisation; and distribute maps to the ground team.
“Not only were our tool and technology employed but also our experience, knowledge, dedication, determination and heart in this tough mission. At the moment when all the boys were rescued it was so emotional – a miracle moment when the impossible becomes possible,” said Chanist.
"It was a wonderful moment when the Chiang Rai provincial governor announced that all the boys and their coach were rescued. We believed that all people around the world were happy to know that they were safely rescued and soon back to their family." stated Songkorn.
“In someone's life, the opportunity to work is great but the opportunity to directly touch the world with that work is rare. The rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team was a perfect match for me and my organisation. The experiences we gained yielded a lot of expertise for future tasks. We do not know what we will face in the future, however, if we have enough information, colleagues and friends, and applicable tools, we believe we will go through everything well.” Commented Dr Somsak.
Timeline of mapping in rescue mission:
23 June 2018: 12 kids and their coach were trapped in the cave because of rising water
24 – 27 June 2018 : The government and private agencies formed the search and rescue team. Many maps were distributed unofficially for the search and rescue mission.
27 June 2018:
Esri Thailand and GIS company decided to join the search and rescue mission with Department of Mineral Resources at Geohazard Operation office center.
The search and rescue team in the field pumped the water out of the cave but there was no significant reduction of the water level
28 June 2018:
The reliable topographic data was required for spatial analysis. The team generated and gathered all required data such as cave track DEM, SRTM DEM, Orthophoto, Cave Line, etc. Then DMR distributed the produced maps, such as 3D map, mountain cross section map to other organisations in the field.
The detail of the cave was translated from the “EXPEDITION THAI-MAROS 1986” and “EXPEDITION THAI-MAROS 1987” documents of French surveyors. But the detailed cave map of 1987 was missing.
29 June 2018:
The heavy rainfall caused rising the water level in the cave. The drainage basin, water flow direction, and flow accumulation were analysed from the updated DEM for determining the significant locations to divert the water flow. DMR insisted the field team; DNP, RID, and Royal Thai Army to divert the water flow.
The Caves of Thailand: Volume 2: Northern Thailand by Martin Ellis was translated and the team found the cave survey by British surveyors in 2014-2015. Then the cave survey digital data of French surveyors in 1987 and British surveyors in 2014 and 2015 were found in the Cave Registry Data Archive of British Cave Association. There is the GPS (X,Y,Z) reference points in cave survey data of 2014 and 2015.
The divers faced difficulties to get through the cave passage
30 June - 1 July 2018:
Efforts can be made to lower water levels through water diversion and by water pumping. The stone dam was constructed at the northern part of the cave and the 2.4 km pipeline was built to divert the water flow. This effort could maintain the water level of the cave. But the cave water level was not reduced.
The missing detailed cave map of 1987 was sent from Martin Ellis. The 1987 detailed map contains the cave passage cross sections with the scale bar. This scale bar were georeferenced to get the real world dimension of the passage and the distance between the passage sections. This map was distributed to the dive team as a guideline for planning and operating their searching mission.
There was the heavy rainfall forecast.
2 July 2018:
The 12 kids and a coach were found at Nom Sao Hill in the cave.
The water level was rising because of the rainfall
DMR insisted that the field team divert the water on the southern part of the cave
3-4 July 2018:
The field team diverted the flow by building more stone diversion dams and a 1.2 km pipeline upstream in the southern part of the cave. Based on the hourly records of the cave water level, the water depth gradually reduced significantly.
The water level in the cave and rainfall were closely monitored.
Oxygen levels in the cave reduced significantly.
5-8 July 2018:
Supported the drilling rescue option by analysing for the low slope surface (< 25 degree) area and calculating the vector distance between the selected area and the Nom Sao Hill
Monitored the water level and rainfall intensity.
9 July 2018:
The first group including four kids were rescued.
Monitored the water level and rainfall intensity of first day of rescue mission.
10 July 2018:
The second group including four kids were rescued.
Monitored the water level and rainfall intensity of the second day of rescue mission.
11 July 2018:
The third group including 4 kids and their coach were rescued.
Monitored the water level and rainfall intensity of third day of rescue mission.
Last updated: 16/08/2018
http://www.GIM-INTERNATIONAL.com Jueves 16 de Agosto del 2018
Continuously operating reference stations (CORS) are permanent GNSS stations that log and disseminate GNSS observations continuously to meet various user needs. CORS networks have been going up all over the world in the last decade to help establish geodetic reference frames, monitor tectonic movement as well as helping surveyors to do real-time positioning. This article zooms in on Corsmap, an initiative that was founded by three geomatic professionals to be a one-stop shop for all CORS installations in Africa.
There are many online maps that provide information about CORS networks in Europe, North America and the Australasian region. For instance the US National Geodetic Survey maintains a CORS map of all the permanent GNSS stations in North America and a few other selected countries. When it comes to Africa, however, the situation is vastly different. Some information is available from the International GNSS Service (IGS), the African Geodetic Reference Frame (AFREF) and Space and Earth Geodetic Analysis Laboratory (SEGAL) maps, but these maps are mainly focused on scientific applications and, as such, do not provide a full picture of what is out there. Moreover, there is a deplorable dearth of metadata concerning CORS installations. Most of the time it is simply a point on the map.
It is difficult to find a single database that offers information about all the CORS installations in Africa. It is an uphill task to begin with to have such a database given the vast number of private, public or institutional CORS providers. However, a centralised database is paramount so as to avoid a patchwork of online maps of these key installations.
Crowdsourcing could be a powerful tool towards this end. This is what the founders of Corsmap are trying to achieve by mapping all the CORS installations on the African continent. Corsmap is not just about providing information about all the permanent GNSS stations in Africa; it is also about enriching the experience by giving the user as much information as possible concerning a particular GNSS installation.
Some of the Corsmap features include:
Numerous ways of discovering station information quickly, such as pinpointing a location with a cursor or searching by keywords
Easy and simple ways to add or edit station information for users
Ensuring a lot of metadata is displayed once a location has been pinpointed (e.g. base station provider contacts, website, information on RTK and RINEX, photo of the base station and its background, etc.)
A station detail page giving a brief introduction about a particular base station
Zoomable pinpoint locations which can be zoomed to street level
A community forum which enables users to register and add station information.
Whilst providing a lot of metadata, what the map does not provide is coordinates of the stations and access to the data. Instead, the map points the user to the base station provider, where this information can be obtained.
So far, Corsmap has been able to crowdsource data for 180 CORS installations in 25 countries including South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso and more. However, contacts have only been made with custodians in four of these countries, namely South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda. This means that the information from the other 21 countries has been sourced by the Corsmap founders themselves from other online maps and RINEX repositories, but the information has not been verified and controlled by the people on the ground. The Corsmap team is keen to encourage all African countries to provide the missing or unverified CORS information to help them update the map for the public good.
Many countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast remain unmapped. In some cases the language barrier poses a problem, although most of the time the lack of response from contacts seems to be the biggest challenge.
Fair share of lemons
Populating Corsmap has not been an easy task. The founders have faced a lot of challenges: many e-mails have gone unanswered, many calls not taken, many LinkedIn requests ignored, but the few positive responses have been worth every effort by the Corsmap team. It has been a stark reminder that good things come with their fair share of lemons.
Despite the lemons which have been used to make lemonade, there have been some amusing moments as well, such as one user who claimed to have base station information for a particular country, only for him to provide the team with a link to their own Corsmap website. This particular incident was not only comical, but also reaffirmed the dearth of CORS base station installations in Africa.
Uploading the base station data
Since the base station data as currently constituted has been obtained by the founders themselves, there is an undisputed need for maintenance and keeping the information current and relevant. Corsmap therefore depends on a network of trustworthy and reliable people to critique the information already provided. Data integrity is key. It is better to provide limited yet accurate base station information than to have a flood of information that is not factual and truthful.
Looking ahead, it is the Corsmap team’s dream to have such a network of dependable people uploading the base station data themselves. This will be a true reflection of international cooperation between geospatial professionals. Interestingly, perhaps, the Corsmap founders have created the online map without actually ever having met face to face. Clement is based in California (USA), Eldar in Australia and Derrick in Kenya. Their conversation started on LinkedIn, and the online map is the product of extensive e-mail correspondence and Skype meetings, mostly at odd hours of the day.
Permanent GNSS stations can open up a world of opportunities in many sectors. Since African economies are mainly agriculturally based, the mass adoption of precision agriculture would increase the output tremendously. Machine control is another industry waiting to be unravelled in Africa. These industries are reliant on CORS installations providing GNSS observables to their machines.
Most surveyors in Africa use base and rover setups when doing their RTK surveys. This means the initial cost of equipment is high should a surveyor think of becoming an independent contractor. If more of these CORS installations were known and, in the case of a lack of CORS, could be speedily installed, the initial cost of acquiring geodetic GPS would be halved.
Last but not least, datum realisation is of paramount importance and CORS networks help to provide that. Each country in Africa needs to have at least one high order station providing data continuously to the African Geodetic Reference Frame (AFREF) in order to have a unified reference frame for the continent. This has been a continuous challenge since the beginning of the AFREF project and one where Corsmap can potentially help in identifying the gaps.
As the Corsmap team continue to map permanent GNSS stations in Africa, their eyes are set on building a central database of CORS stations for the global community: a database that is people centred since crowdsourcing is a permanent cog in its wheel. It is a journey that has begun and will hopefully have a happy ending. If you would like to be part of the narrative, join the Corsmap community forum.
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