Good day, CIOs. Look, up in the sky. It’s a … railway. BNSF Railway Co. is taking to the skies by deploying drones that work in tandem with infrastructure. They are used to inspect railway assets, some high above land or built into the edges of mountains, freeing human inspectors from having to clamber over and under bridges, CIO Journal’s Kim S. Nash reports.
“Looking under a bridge with a drone – it’s much easier to do that,” BNSF CIO Muru Murugappan says. Mr. Murugappan’s technology group oversees the railroad’s drone projects, including the data analytics work on the images the machines collect. His team defines test programs, with input from business counterparts. Cargo theft remains a problem for U.S. railroads and BNSF’s private police unit sometimes sends up a drone to check out reports of trespassers in train yards or near track.
The use of drones is expanding quickly, Ms. Nash reports. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts a fourfold increase in commercial drones by 2022, to 450,000 from 110,000 today. The machines are becoming safer, with longer battery life, the FAA says. Drones with high-resolution imaging technology bring a means to get business done faster and improve customer service, says Bonnie Lee, claims vice president at Allstate Corp. How do drones fit into your business? Let us know.
Forget passwords. It’s time for passphrases. Two researchers have developed an idea for replacing passwords with more-secure passphrases that people will actually remember and use, the Journal's Henry Williams reports. The prototype system generates series of unrelated, simple words, each 24 characters in length—drawing from a customized list of about 10,000.
NSA software contributing to illegal crypto mining. Eternal Blue, software allegedly written by the National Security Agency to compromise outdated Microsoft Corp. software, is being used by hackers for illicit cryptocurrency mining operations, Bloomberg reports. The software was allegedly stolen from the NSA last year.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma discards promise to create 1 million jobs in U.S. In an interview with China’s state news agency Xinhua published Wednesday, Mr. Ma said his commitment, made after meeting with then-President-elect Trump in January 2017, was contingent on good relations between the two nations. “The current situation has already destroyed the original premise,” he said. “Trade is not a weapon. It can’t be used for war. It should be used as a tool to promote peace.” The Journal's Yoko Kubota and Liza Lin have more.
The robots are now hiring. In the latest episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ correspondent Jason Bellini visits South Jordan, Utah-based HireVue, which is delivering AI-based assessments of digital interviews to over 50 companies. HireVue says its algorithm compares candidates’ tone of voice, word clusters and micro facial expressions with people who have previously been identified as high performers on the job.
EU starts preliminary probe into Amazon's treatment of merchants. The Journal's Sam Schechner and Valentina Pop report that the probe focuses on whether Amazon.com Inc. is gaining a competitive advantage from data it gathers on every transaction and from every merchant on its platform.
Apple works to avoid competing against its own cheaper phones.Apple Inc. is staggering the release of its new iPhones with the two pricier OLED models, the iPhone XS and XS Max, hitting stores Friday. Want the cheaper XR? Prepare to wait five weeks, says the WSJ's Tripp Mickle.
Life insurance for FitBit-ers. John Hancock will soon stop underwriting traditional life insurance, selling only an interactive policy, first launched in 2015, tracking health and fitness through wearables and smartphones. Reuters has more.
Google, T-Mobile tackle 911 call problem. With wireless devices now making 80% or more of the 911 calls placed in some parts of the U.S., smartphone OS providers and carriers are taking steps to improve the quality of location data they send, the Journal's Sarah Krouse reports. In the latest move, Alphabet Inc.'s Google is working with T-Mobile US Inc. to pipe location data from Android phones in the U.S. to emergency call centers.
Amazon looking into opening more cashless stores. In 2016 Amazon.com unveiled Amazon Go, a convenience store that uses sensors and cameras to track what shoppers put in their cart and a smartphone app to log payments. Reuters reports that the company now is looking into opening as many as 3,000 additional stores over the next few years.
EU waits for Facebook updates. Facebook Inc. has yet to bring its user terms in compliance with European Union consumer laws, despite receiving a directive seven months ago, Reuters reports. The company now faces the possibility of sanctions, Reuters says.
Your car is not a smartphone on wheels... your car is not a smartphone on wheels... your car is not... Safety experts are not hip with the trend of outfitting dashboards with all sorts of digital geegaws that let you order coffee, find gas, and order takeouts from Applebees. Auto makers “are trying to build cars that are like phones, rather than acknowledging that if you’re driving, you shouldn’t be trying to do these tasks at all,” National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman tells the WSJ's Mike Colias. After years of decline, the number of U.S. road deaths increased in 2015 and 2016
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
British regulators said Comcast and Fox will settle their takeover battle for Sky via an auction starting Friday. (WSJ)
The latest U.S. tariffs will hammer Chinese auto-parts makers, likely raising prices for U.S. customers, who have few other options.
Bayer seeks to overturn a jury verdict in a recent case that ruled the company’s flagship weed killer Roundup had caused cancer.
Global stocks inched higher as investors continued to parse the latest signals on international trade after the U.S. and China imposed a new round of tariffs earlier this week.
The Morning Download cues up the most important news in business technology every weekday morning.