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SIGNAL Connections

Ensuring Good Connections

April 15, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set out to complete its National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) within 18 months of publishing the final version. Instead, by January 2010—the halfway point—the OEC had completed 80 percent of the plan’s milestones and was well on its way to finishing the final 20 percent long before the deadline.

Tactical, Satellite Based Technologies Drive Marine Corps Networking Plans

April 15, 2010
by Henry S. Kenyon, SIGNAL Connections

To support its global operations, the U.S. Marine Corps is relying on a tactical communications system linked by satellites to theater and national headquarters. Several mobile tactical systems and an innovative space-based networking capability are providing warfighters with reliable, high-bandwidth communications wherever they deploy.

Homefront Help

April 15, 2010

Homefront Help is SIGNAL Connections’ effort to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families. The column highlights programs that offer resources and assistance to the military community ranging from care packages to benefits and everything in between. In that same spirit, Homefront Help presents opportunities for readers to donate time, offer resources and send words of thanks to those who sacrifice for freedom. Programs that provide services are listed in red. Opportunities for the public to reach out to service members are listed in blue. Each program description includes a link to the organization's Web site, when available.

Soldiers to Scholars

Veterans still looking for a way to serve their country and community can find a solution in Soldiers to Scholars, and they can earn the money to obtain their degree at the same time. This organization matches veterans to act as mentors and role models with at-risk, inner-city children. The founder believes that the values of respect for oneself and others, teamwork, education and family these youths need are those that many who served in the armed forces exemplify.  

New Products

April 15, 2010

Wireless Microwave Technology

Commercial and government wireless carriers require seamless connectivity between handheld devices and the fiber optic network. Developed for North American and Japanese service providers, the FlexiPacket Microwave capability combines Carrier Ethernet transport with microwave radio technology to replace existing proprietary mobile backhaul platforms. It uses standard gigabit Ethernet interfaces to connect directly with existing base stations and seamlessly provide a wireless extension of packet-based, optical-fiber networks. For more information, contact www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com.

 
Virtual Shelter Design Software

This software application allows users to design their own shelter applications. Developed by shelter manufacturer DHS Technologies, the Virtual Tactical Application Program (VTAP 2.0) allows users to build two-dimensional and three-dimensional renderings of a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) system complex as it would appear in the theater of operations. VTAP 2.0 features a menu that offers a variety of shelter and trailer formats that can be added to the virtual footprint. For more information, visit www.drash.com/vtap.

New Products

March 15, 2010

New products, March 2010, from SIGNAL Connections. Features: Acoustocam i600; Hughes 9350 BGAN mobile satellite terminal; LiFePO4 radio battery; One Vault Voice; PX3030 VPX-REDI single board computer; and the Dm-1320 video encoder.

Homefront Help

March 15, 2010
by Rita Boland, SIGNAL Connections

Homefront Help, March 2010, featuring the National Military Family Association, the Veterans History Project, and a commemorative pen that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Student Cybersecurity Competition Boosts STEM Interest

March 15, 2010
by Rita Boland, SIGNAL Connections

The largest simultaneous high school cyberdefense competition ever held wrapped up late last month, crowning a champion and sending kids to college who otherwise would not have attended.

Veterans Get Boost Into Job Market

March 15, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections

In an effort to help members of the military move from "boots to suits," a program will begin that helps warfighters turn in their weapons for a computer keyboard.

U.S. Coast Guard Boosts Alerts Status

February 16, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Coast Guard has deployed a nationwide alert system that notifies its maritime partners as soon as an emergency arises. Unlike previous communications capabilities, this system not only ensures that the appropriate people are alerted but also acts as a status system so during a disaster the Coast Guard can account for all personnel. This single commercial system both delivers the messages and confirms that they have been received—it is a two-way street of information about ground truth.

In the past, the Coast Guard relied on the Marine Safety Information Broadcast system to notify its stakeholders—including port authorities and maritime facility owners—when emergencies occurred. Because the broadcast system is radio based, unless a maritime partner is tuned in to the appropriate station, the manager would not be aware of the crisis.

IWSAlerts, developed by AtHoc Incorporated, enables the Coast Guard to send out information, keep track of when it was sent and determine if it was received. The alerts are sent simultaneously to the cell phones, landline phones, e-mail addresses and fax numbers of approximately 26,000 non-Coast Guard registered users, including facility owners, local maritime officers and local ports of authority. In addition to this audience, more than 50,000 Coast Guard personnel are IWSAlerts users.

For example, if a particular emergency affects 1,000 of its partners, the alert will be sent to those specific partners, who then can notify the Coast Guard if they will respond to the incident or if they cannot respond. As a result, the Coast Guard's leadership has immediate feedback it can use to plan the response.

Battlefield Cell Networks Research Grows

February 16, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor

With encouragement from the front lines, Capt. Josh Dixon, USMC, graduate student, Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), is exploring another way to bring the benefits of cell phone technology to warfighters. Although this type of work is going on within other military organizations, Capt. Dixon's study focuses on integrating cell technology by adapting the software-defined radios to host cell networks. With his colleagues, the captain aims at bringing secure cell phone technology to the field at an affordable price.

Capt. Dixon and his five colleagues began their work by examining current cell technology and devices. Although cell phone services have grown by leaps and bounds, the security problem they pose prevents commercial cell phones from being used in hostile environments. The captain points out that today's cell phones can be compromised in a multitude of ways, down to an adversary pirating an individual's cell phone account. So although these devices could be purchased for $200, their high vulnerability prevents them from being adapted to the military environment.

On the other hand, a highly secure cell phone would be priced in the thousands of dollars, making mass purchases fiscally unfeasible. This is the challenge that Capt. Dixon took on to determine, first, if the concept was feasible and second, if the military even wanted the capability.

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