Pixels per head

– How can you capture 3 million heads in a single shot with few mega-pixels?

This is what I’ve been asking myself nowadays.

After the Iranian disputed election and while Ahmadinejad was trying to compete with Mousavi to bring as many people as he can to celebrate his “victory”, millions of Mousavi’s supporters covered streets of Tehran. Before foreign journalists were kicked out of the land, they could cover both rallies and mentioned tens of thousands of supporters for each. That was a great job, however bringing a wrong impression abroad: There are two equally strong crowds in Iran, each claiming its side as the winner and both are “many”.

The point is that while based on some street capacity calculations Tehran’s mayor estimated hugest Mousavi’s rally as having 3 million attendants, Ahmadinejad was able to gather dozens of thousands around Vali-Asr square, including all bribed folk brought from the countryside.

I believe that the traditional shoe leather photojournalistic methods of capturing the crowd have shown their intrinsic inability to reflect a sound comparison. It’s impossible to cover millions of heads distributed over dozens of kilometers just in few digital shots or some high definition video-reports taken from the surface of the town.

While govermental militia is the only one who has access to helicopters over Tehran, for us the satellite photos are the only way to resolve this problem: We are much more and we should be able to prove that! Now given such an introduction does anyone have access to almost-live satellite photos taken of the earth. I remember that NASA had a public service which was used by fire extinguishers and was able to provide shots of the globe every – let’s say – second hour. I can’t find that service anymore.

Update: Marius F.’s email in this regard:

Hey dude!

I’ve been looking around and speaking to my #1 computer wizard about finding real time satelite photos from Iran where you get to see the rally, but i don’t seem to find anything like that. Probobly some of the pay-services got something like that, so I post some links for you that looks interesting.


I think that it would be easiest to get in touch with someone inside NASA that has interest in the Iranian government and the election, and that is willing to get hold of satellite photos from Iran on that date and time where it all took place. Maybe you know someone, who knows someone, who know an Iranian guy who works there? 😉

Here’s some interesting sites for getting in touch with different satelite holding companies around the world and the people on top in NASA: Org.map of NASA, Other agencies around Europe and so on. It’s not as much as you would hope for, but its a start. Taking a couple of phone calls and start pulling strings would probobly get you somewhere.. Hopefully 🙂

p.s. Later update (18th of September): Finally Google maps updated Iran and now it at least shows the different locations that green supporters were stationed with the videos. 🙂

Author: admin

Paranoid Data Scientist Based in Oslo

1 thought on “Pixels per head”

  1. This couldn’t work in Iran. All the protests were in pre-arranged places and the crowd formation used to change so fast. It can be used in Afghanistan today to track Taliban violence, but it is irrelevant to what happened in Iran. But, If there was a way to use SMS safely it would all change.

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