Sudanese Aerial Bombardment in the Nuba Mountains

In June SigActs added Nuba Reports to the repository of over 5,000 English language sources that we monitor for news and event reporting. Nuba Reports is a grassroots collection and reporting effort by a group of people living in the Nuba Mountains, along the front lines of conflict in Sudan.

The situation in Sudan is complex and details of the brutal struggle in the Nuba Mountains have been largely ignored by the international community amidst sensational headlines from conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We asked our adjunct geopolitical analyst, Taylor Deisinger, to dig into the issues in Sudan and to provide us a rundown on the situation in the Nuba Mountains.

Sudan has been a country riddled with conflict since its independence from Britain in 1956. Though South Sudan officially gained independence in 2011, conflict has raged on along Sudan’s Southern border. Today, border disputes and struggles for control of oil rich territory continue between the Sudanese government and South Sudanese backed rebel groups, like the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- North.

Flag of South Sudan

South Sudan’s Six-Color Flag

The SPLM-N is currently entrenched along the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, but comes under periods of sustained aerial bombardment by the Sudanese central government. These Sudanese bombing runs indiscriminately hit civilian areas, burn home and destroy crops.

SigActs Nuba Mountains Conflict

The Nuba Mountains are an area located in South Kordofan, Sudan, just north of the border with South Sudan.

The Sudanese Air Force is capable of conducting these air strikes because of the military equipment, specifically the MiG-29 fighter aircraft and munitions, they have acquired from Russia and China. Sudan manufactures small arms, artillery and armored vehicles through their state-run defense corporation, Military Industry Corporation (MIC), but the larger, more modern and more complex combat equipment being used against rebels in the Nuba Mountains has been imported from international suppliers.

Sudan’s oil revenues are funding these international purchases and increasing the country’s economic, political and military ties with China.

SigActs Sudanese MiG-29

An inflight photo of a Sudanese MiG-29.

China is the largest single investor in Sudan’s oil industry and consumes 80% of all Sudanese oil exports. These economic links give the Chinese government a keen interest in the outcome of the conflicts raging in this oil rich region.

SigActs - Nuba Mountains - Men At A Market

Men at a market in the Nuba Mountains. The baron landscape of this region is visible in the background.

The situation in Sudan has taken a significant humanitarian toll and also serves as a destabilizing force for the international community.

In its current state of unrest, Sudan stands to remain a safe haven for terrorist groups, which could eventually pose a threat to US interests, both at home and abroad. While the humanitarian situation unfolding in the Nuba Mountains has not garnered as much press as the atrocities carried out further West in the Darfur region, it has been extremely devastating to the local population.

Taylor Deisinger is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder where she earned her B.A. in International Affairs and Anthropology. Taylor’s interests in U.S. foreign policy, and particularly Middle East policy, have taken her to Washington D.C. where she is pursuing a job in foreign policy research and national security. Taylor has ambitions to set foot on all seven continents and to see her San Diego Chargers make it to the Super Bowl.

Posted in Geopolitical Situations, In-depth Analysis, Military

News At A Glance – Making SigActs Headlines Visual

At SigActs we continuously track reporting from over 8,000 different English language news outlets. This gives us a large amount of data to analyze, and incredible insights into what is being reported around the world.

We are always experimenting with new ways to bring relevant slices of this news data repository to our readers and customers. This week we are excited to launch a visual headlines project to provide illustrative snippets of useful information about breaking news.


A SigActs visual headline image about a hazmat incident in Rhode Island on 7 August.

Each visual headline is an image that depicts information about a particular news report. At a quick glance you can expect to see:

  • The report headline
  • The date of the report
  • The primary location relevant to the report
  • SigActs categorization of the report
  • A logo depicting the source of the report
  • A short link to the source news item

The goal of this project is to give decision makers the ability to quickly evaluate a headline and act on the information presented.

SigActs Visual Headline

A SigActs visual headline image about a bomb threat in Utah on 7 August.

We are using Pinterest, and it’s platform for visual bookmarking, to share this current event reporting. We have set up, and begun to populate, Pinterest boards for each of the major reporting categories that SigActs monitors. This gives you a convenient way to visually peruse information about breaking news from your computer, tablet and smartphone.

SigActs on Pinterest

SigActs is regularly publishing a sampling of visual headlines to Pinterest.

In the weeks ahead we will be ramping up our social media efforts and pushing more visual headlines to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. We also have future plans to bring visual headlines to wearable devices like smart watches and Google Glass.

Your feedback is always valued and appreciated, so please let us know what you think!

Posted in Bomb Threats & Hoaxes, Hazmat & CBRN, Press Release, SigActs Inc, Visual Headlines

Almighty Dollar – Dollar Tree to Acquire Family Dollar – Mapped

On July 28, 2014 bargain-basement retailer Dollar Tree announced plans to acquire their competitor Family Dollar for $8.5 billion. Headlines about this major purchase were carried by a variety of local and national news outlets.

News Outlet Headline
Bloomberg Businessweek Dollar Tree Agrees to Acquire Family Dollar for $8.5 Billion
Charlotte Observer Charlotte Region Loses Corporate Headquarters in Family Dollar Buyout
ABC News Dollar Tree (DLTR) Buying Family Dollar (FDO)
Wall Street Journal Battle for Poor Shoppers Fuels Dollar-Store Deal
NBC Charlotte (WCNC) Dollar Tree buying Matthews-based Family Dollar for $8.5B

At SigActs we are always interested in the geospatial aspects of breaking business news, and we were curious about what the Family Dollar retail footprint looks like on a map.


Family Dollar Store in Charlotte, North Carolina

Based on our research, we identified 8,136 Family Dollar stores in the United States (as of the time this post was published). At the $8.5 billion purchase price, the acquisition deal averages to $1,044,739 per store.

The intensity map below clearly shows that Family Dollar has a large presence in the United States along the East Coast and in the Midwest.


SigActs Heat Map of Family Dollar Stores

With all of the Family Dollar stores plotted in SigActs Pro, we can ask interesting questions about the data to understand where the company has the most concentrated retail presence. Below is a breakdown of the five U.S. states with the most Family Dollar stores.

Five U.S. States with the Most Family Dollar Stores
State Number of Stores
Texas 1034
Florida 603
Ohio 477
North Carolina 419
Michigan 416

SigActs Pro also allows us to drill down into the data to see the distribution of Family Dollar stores in any major metropolitan area. Below is a snapshot of Family Dollar Stores in and around Las Vegas, Nevada.


Family Dollar Stores Near Las Vegas Nevada

Another interesting way to analyze this type of point data (each retail store represented as a single point) is to see how many stores are within a given radius around a variety of U.S. landmarks. The table below shows how many Family Dollar stores are within 10 miles of a few notable U.S. attractions.

Family Dollar Stores Within 10 Miles of U.S. Landmarks
Family Dollar Stores
Within 10 Miles
Willis Tower
Chicago, Illinois
Empire State Building
New York, New York
AT&T (Cowboy’s) Stadium
Arlington, Texas
New Orleans, Louisiana
The White House
Washington, DC
Las Vegas, Nevada

At SigActs we believe that behind every headline there are interesting aspects of geography, and we have developed sophisticated methodology to understand where events are being reported. We would love to help you visualize where news may have relevance to the places on the Earth that are important to you, your customers and your business!

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Posted in Asset Visualization, Business Intelligence, Business News, Mergers & Acquisitions

Fuselage Derailment Update: Precise Incident Coordinates

By the middle of last week, Montana Rail Link had the last of the railcars carrying Boeing fuselages removed from the Clark Fork River.

Linda Frost, spokeswoman for Montana Rail Link, was able to provide precise coordinates for the location of the derailment via email.

Latitude: 47.012175°
Longitude: -114.687067°


(a screenshot from Google Earth looking East over the derailment location)

Click here to visit see the point of the derailment on a Google Map.

Location accuracy and the precision of a geocode are interesting topics, and excellent fodder for a future blog post. At SigActs we use a variety of algorithmic methods and human-led research to pinpoint where news events are happening. The table below shows how we used relative location descriptions and finally an authoritative email from Montana Rail Link to accurately share the location of this derailment.

Source Article Strongest Location Signal
Last derailed Boeing 737 fuselage removed from Clark Fork near Alberton “Clark Fork near Alberton”
Montana crews try to recover Boeing fuselages from river bank “Clark Fork River in western Montana”
Derailment cleanup continues through the week “Clark Fork River between Alberton and Superior”
High-demand jetliner parts among casualties of derailment near Alberton “a couple of miles west of the Fish Creek exit”
Train derails west of Missoula, spilling airplane parts into river “Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River between St. John’s and Tarkio Fishing Access Sites”
Posted in Aviation, Emergency Preparedness, Infrastructure, Railroad

Planes from a Train, Blocking Boats

In the United States, the 4th of July is known for colorful displays of fireworks and patriotic pageantry. This year Independence Day brought about another type of spectacular display in Western Montana, when a freight train derailed sending Boeing aircraft fuselages into the Clark Fork River.

The train derailment happened between the Saint John’s and Tarkio state fishing access sites, which are roughly 45-miles west of Missoula. The Clark Fork River is popular with rafters, so lots of awesome amateur pictures and video emerged. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks temporarily closed that stretch of the river to allow for debris removal (hence blocking boats), but has since reopened the waterway.

The spectacular images emerging from this scene propelled the derailment story into news outlets all over the world (for instance: The Guardian, India Times, WSJ, USA Today). At SigActs, we always find it interesting to assess where a news story originates, and which publishers choose to carry it to their audiences.

In this case, we saw the story first reported by local television news stations in the states of Kansas, Washington and Montana. This made sense when we learned that the plane fuselages began their journey at a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, and were destined for a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington before they made their unexpected stop outside of Superior, Montana. Before long though, the spectacular nature of this event propelled the story to local, international and niche news outlets all over the world.

SigActs Derailment MapA SigActs map depicting the origin of the cargo (Green icon), the intended
delivery site (Orange icon) and the derailment location (Red icon).

The SigActs feed of real time event data is a great way to visually and quantitatively identify where news is happening, and what news outlets are reporting on events.

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Posted in Aviation, Emergency Preparedness, Infrastructure, Railroad

SigActs Officially Recognized as a Veteran-Owned Small Business

Today SigActs was formally recognized as a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) by the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. SigActs is a verified veteran-owned small business! Earning this certification required an intensive 3-month evaluation process that analyzed all aspects of the ownership, finances and management of SigActs Inc.

Reaching this milestone is verification that SigActs complies with all of the U.S. federal regulatory requirements established in 38 CFR Part 74.

[Click Here to Review the Official Verification Letter for SigActs]

Anyone can verify the current veteran-owned status of SigActs, or any other small business, by doing a simple search on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Vendor Information Pages:

SigActs is proud to be founded by an individual with decorated service in the U.S. military, and is excited to continue serving the United States by providing excellent data, analysis and mapping services to public and private sector organizations.

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Posted in Military, Press Release, SigActs Inc

Recent Earthquakes Near Canadian Tire (CanTire) Retail Locations

Each May Canada coordinates Emergency Preparedness Week, an initiative to help Canadians plan for emergencies. The theme for this year’s week, “Know your Risks”, got us thinking about business preparedness as it relates to earthquakes.

SigActs - Canadian Emergency Preparedness Week(Emergency Preparedness Week 2014 promotional graphic)

Why earthquakes? Well, earthquakes are among the most deadly natural hazards, and SigActs catalogs earthquake activity in near real time from reporting by the USGS, Natural Resources Canada and the European‑Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

In the spirit of Canadian Emergency Preparedness Week, we set out to understand where earthquakes have occurred in a close proximity to a staple of Canadian living: Canadian Tire. With 494 retail locations, Canadian Tire (CanTire) is one of Canada’s most powerful retailers, and the place to shop for tools, sporting goods, auto parts and home decor.

An earthquake near a Canadian Tire store could significantly impact customers, employees, business operations and local infrastructure.

(CanTire store in Oakville, Ontario – circa 2004)

Using SigActs Pro, we plotted the location of all Canadian Tire stores (with red dots), and then overlaid a heat map (with purple dots) of all worldwide earthquake activity occurring between January 1,  2014 and June 1, 2014.

(Canadian Tire stores as red dots, and earthquake locations as purple dots)

This visualization clearly shows that Canadian Tire stores in Southern British Columbia and Southern Quebec are in the vicinity of recent earthquakes. We can take this analysis one step further by doing a “nearest neighbor” search to produce a list of the five earthquakes in this dataset that have occurred closest to CanTire retail stores.

Five Earthquakes Nearest to
Canadian Tire Stores
Since 1 January 2014


CanTire Store


Distance from
CanTire Store





2662 meters
(1.6 miles)





3231 meters
(2 miles)





3720 meters
(2.3 miles)





4148 meters
(2.6 miles)





4159 meters
(2.6 miles)


The SigActs feed of real time event data is a great way to visually and quantitatively identify areas of risk. By understanding your risk, you can take steps to minimize or avoid injuries, damage, and long-term financial consequences.

Visit SigActs Real Time Earthquake Reporting Map

SigActs provides data to let you monitor natural disasters in real time, and to see how these critical incidents may impact your facilities, personnel and supply chains.

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Posted in Corporate Safety, Corporate Security, Earthquakes, Emergency Preparedness, Public Safety, Retail Security