The extraordinary growth of the U.S. economy since the mid-1990s has financial analysts loath to make predictions about the future and grasping for ways to assess and measure the very impetus contributing to the phenomenon-the pervasiveness of information technology. Business and government officials agree that technology has played a significant part in spurring on the sustained period of economic prosperity-from its contribution to manufacturing to its role in consumer purchasing to the impact on the work force. But success brings with it certain challenges. Companies as well as governments, while excited about today's bounty, are scrambling to address those challenges before the bubble bursts.
Companies that have made their millions-and billions-in the guts and brains of information technology products are spreading their techno-tentacles into e-commerce through the gap between operation and application services. They are not leaving the world of hardware behind but rather are ensuring that their companies will continue to prosper by infusing their technical expertise into the space between the transmitter and the receiver of e-commerce messages.
A set of software and algorithms developed to identify criminal activity in the gambling industry is now available to the federal government to help detect employee fraud and collusion. The system correlates data from a variety of sources to shed light on questionable personal relationships and transactions. In the federal sector, this system's potential uses cover internal security, background investigations and intelligence gathering.
Next-generation signal processor technology for wireless communications is the focus of a unique research center. The Atlanta-based StarCore Technology Center combines the pooled assets of Motorola Incorporated's semiconductor products sector and Lucent Technologies' microelectronics group.
The communications sanctity inherent in secure telephone units is migrating into the cellular arena with a new generation of handheld devices no larger than conventional commercial mobile telephones. These telephones are designed to provide high-level government and military secure cellular communications while also being able to serve the commercial arena.
The armed forces in many countries are examining the methods they use to acquire information technology systems. In a coalition environment, procuring communications equipment that will be employed by several nations during cooperative operations is more complicated than point and click. The new trend for allied nations is to begin further back in the supply chain, scrutinizing the processes that influence the development of products.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing a new simulation environment to provide readily available, operationally valid, computer-assisted instruction for commanders in chief. Known as the joint simulation system, the assemblage will train the commanders, their components and commands, other joint organizations, and the services and agencies in computer-assisted joint exercises. The system will offer a realistic environment to train subordinate warfighting commanders and develop doctrine and tactics. In addition, it will help commanders formulate and assess operational plans, conduct mission rehearsals, define operational requirements and provide operational input to the acquisition process.
Microprocessors capable of operating at extremely low power levels will soon fly in a variety of spacecraft. Radiation hardened in a novel process that allows them to be produced in existing facilities, the chips will play a role in future near-earth and deep-space missions. Moreover, the technology presents potential applications beyond aerospace circles, especially in battery-powered communications devices, sensors and portable electronics.
A multifaceted one-stop shop that matches technology requirements identified by top government and military officials with available and emerging industry solutions will enable TechNet International 2000 attendees to home in on answers to critical questions confronting governments throughout the world.
The information age that is defining our entry into a new millennium is being driven by the rapid development of technology, and that development in turn is being driven by research. Both government and industry are reaping the benefits of this windfall in electronics. However, both must not forget the importance of continuing to pursue scientific advances that will fuel and sustain this technology boom. And, both sectors must also coordinate their efforts to ensure that government needs are met through purposeful research.