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Government Seeks New Identity Markers

September 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

 

In the next few years, usernames and passwords could gradually fade from popular use as a way to conduct business online. A public/private coalition is working on a new policy and technical framework for identity authentication that could make online transactions less dependent on these increasingly compromised identity management tools. A second round of federal grants from the group, expected this fall, will lead to continued work on what is expected to become a private sector-operated identity management industry.

“The fact is that the username and password are fundamentally broken, both from a security standpoint as well as a usability standpoint,” says Jeremy Grant, senior executive adviser for identity management with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Department of Commerce. As a result of such security weakness, cybercrime is costing individuals and businesses billions of dollars every year. An estimated 11.7 million Americans were victims of identity theft of some kind, including online identity theft over a recent two-year period, according to NIST, the federal agency tasked with setting cybersecurity standards.

Defining 
Spatial 
Privacy

September 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

The exponential expansion of geolocation technology throughout all levels of society is presenting a range of challenges for policy makers eager to take advantage of the benefits while protecting personal privacy. Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the challenges is fragmented or lacking in authority.

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy aims to change all that by representing legal considerations within the geospatial community. Kevin Pomfret, executive director of the center, served as a satellite imagery analyst for the government for six years before attending law school. During his studies, he remained interested in remote sensing and representing clients in that area. The field is fraught with potential because of the many issues surrounding geolocation especially. People increasingly are using the technology for a variety of applications, meaning legal and policy concerns will grow in number over concerns such as privacy, data ownership, data quality and national security. “I started to attend trade shows and saw there weren’t any lawyers there, which was unusual,” Pomfret explains.

When he realized the community was underserved from a legal standpoint, he set out to educate its members on concerns that do and will impact them legally. The center he established also aims to give stakeholders a seat at the table as laws and policies are developed as well as to educate policy makers.

Policy making often involves weighing risk against benefit. Unfortunately, many of the people in a position to make decisions lack the background to fully understand the value of spatial data. By connecting them to the experts in related industries, awareness of the important facets grow.

Calling All Radio Suppliers

August 21, 2013

 

The U.S. Army is conducting a full and open competition to acquire more quantities of the Rifleman Radio and also will soon open competition for purchasing additional Manpack radios. The draft request for proposals (RFP) seeking solutions from all industry partners for the Rifleman is now available, and an informational industry day will be followed by the release of the formal RFP.

The goal of the new competitions is to decrease costs, increase overall system functionality and reduce the size, weight and power requirements of the radios. One key component is to enable soldiers to communicate from the small unit level to the individual dismounted warfighter. The full and open competition includes technical and field tests of the solutions that current and new industry partners propose.

An indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a five-year ordering period is expected to be awarded to a single vendor for the Rifleman Radio, Army officials say. The service plans to conduct a follow-on competition within the next three to five years for the next generation of the radio, they add.

Contract awards for both radios are scheduled for fiscal year 2014.

Tech Transfer Thrives

August 20, 2013

 

Investors, integrators and information technology companies this week will see eight government-developed emerging cybersecurity technologies ready for transition into the commercial sector. Capabilities to be unveiled include intrusion detection, removable media protection, software assurance and malware forensics. The technology demonstration day, which takes place in San José, California, on August 22, gives investors and the business sector the opportunity to view laboratory prototypes of the cybersecurity products in action.

Michael Pozmantier, program manager, Transition-to-Practice, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and technology developers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories will be on hand to discuss the capabilities and their potential.

Transition-to-Practice events are held several times a year at locations around the United States.

Federal Budget Cuts
 Encourage a Niche Business

August 1, 2013
By Michael A. Robinson

With the nation facing a new atmosphere of austerity and mandated budget cuts, now would seem to be the absolute worst time to target the federal government for defense-related technology contracts. Yet, for one business, tight government funding is more of an opportunity than a challenge.

After all, the Pentagon faces two massive fiscal challenges. The first is the new lean approach to defense spending following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq and its preparation to draw down forces from Afghanistan. The second deals with today’s complex political realities. Unable to fashion a bipartisan spending plan, Congress has allowed the process known as “sequestration” to kick in. Those automatic budget cuts are expected to take more than $40 billion out of Defense Department spending this year alone for a reduction of more than 7 percent.

And yet, Timothy Coffin is all smiles as he prepares to pick up more federal information technology contracts. A former U.S. Air Force officer, Coffin serves as president of iGATE Government Solutions, a wholly owned unit of information technology provider iGATE Corporation. As Coffin sees it, the era of tight Pentagon budgets actually provides a great growth opportunity for a contractor that understands the overarching theme of today’s spending environment.

Facing both financial and political headwinds, federal agencies have to take a more creative approach to managing their programs and cash flows. That means they no longer can continue to rely on the same old approaches that have served them for decades.

“I am pretty excited about some of the opportunities I see,” Coffin says. “I’m not going after the $10 million opportunities; I’m going after the $100 million, $200 million opportunities, and we’re getting quite a bit of interest from the government in what we consider our value propositions.

Sandia Speeds Intellectual Property Sharing With Small Business

July 29, 2013

To facilitate innovation development, Sandia National Laboratories is building a portfolio of intellectual property (IP) that businesses can license in as little as an hour. The ready-to-sign licenses feature simplified language and pared-down terms, conditions and reporting requirements. Up-front fees are in the $3,000 range, and royalty percentages are low.

Sandia has approximately 1,300 patents available for licensing, and while large companies often take advantage of this IP, small firms often do not have the human or financial resources to seize the opportunity. The new license procedure enables entrepreneurs to click on one link and download all of the information they need. The licenses are nonexclusive, so any number of companies can make use of the technology.

“These are all technologies that no one has licensed in areas where small businesses might be able to get a foothold,” Bob Westervelt, business development specialist, Sandia, says. “A small company could take any of these licenses and run with it.” Currently, eight patents qualify for the program, but Sandia officials say the portfolio could reach up to 50. Additional information about Sandia technology transfer opportunities is available online.

Collaborative Portal Opens Business Opportunity Doors

July 18, 2013

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems has created a portal to facilitate collaboration among experts from multiple industries in a secure, controlled, cooperative environment. GDNexus matches innovative solutions to customer requirements across the defense, federal government, intelligence community and commercial markets.

Registered members of the community are notified immediately when new Need Statements are announced and can respond through the portal with products and services that fulfill the requirements. The GDNexus team reviews and evaluates the responses and then sends the potential customers an assessment of the proffered solution.

The team also sends feedback to members to help them enhance their product strategy and align technology road maps to future requirements. Subject matter experts from General Dynamics work directly with technology providers, providing insight and perspective. “GDNexus also provides another important mechanism for us to act as an honest broker, bringing innovative technologies to our customers quickly as a prime systems integrator,” Nadia Short, vice president, strategy and business development, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, says.

The first customer Need Statements focus on the cyber domain and are now available in the portal. GDNexus member companies currently include NetApp and RSA.

AFCEA Welcomes More Than 30 New Corporate Members

July 15, 2013

The recent corporate membership promotion, which offered a three-year corporate membership for the price of two years, was a solid success. As a result of the offer and increased publicity, preliminary numbers indicate that 34 new companies joined AFCEA at the three-year level; 87 current members renewed and pre-purchased for three years; and eight former corporate members rejoined.

No Venue, No Problem

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Navy uses a popular online collaboration tool 
to change course around last-minute travel restrictions.

The U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center, charged with conducting safety and environmental training worldwide, successfully is circumventing hurriedly imposed government travel restrictions by using an online application to conduct safety and environmental training. The tool recently enabled the center to conduct an annual conference with more than 1,000 attendees.

Normally used for smaller meetings, the Adobe Connect software, which operates in the cloud environment, is readily available to the entire U.S. defense community through the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) Defense Connect Online (DCO).

“We execute an annual joint occupational safety and health conference,” explains Cmdr. Greg Cook, USN, commanding officer, U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NSETC) in Norfolk, Virginia. “We have members of all five services ... active duty military as well as civilians across the services.” The conference has been offered annually for the past 20 years, with venues alternating each year between Norfolk and San Diego.

Visual Information
 on Your Sleeve

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Recent developments in advanced materials bring the Army closer to next-generation displays for a new breed of warfighter mobile devices.

A coalition of military, academic and industry scientists is approximately one year away from the first working prototypes of mobile devices using newly developed flexible display technologies. The goal is to demonstrate that manufacturing the displays can be done economically, and in quantity, so that they can be widely adopted by mobile device makers, benefitting both the military and consumers. Project managers ultimately hope to introduce mobile devices that are lighter, more reliable and less expensive.

These displays could make possible small screens bearing important tactical information that would be worn on the sleeve of a soldier’s uniform. Another use might be as a pen that fits in a pocket but contains a roll-out display with maps and mission information. The technology even might enable rugged displays worn on the thigh of a field medic with the latest medical record information on the patient in front of him or her.

“The goal of the program is to speed development of flexible displays for the soldier,” says David Morton, program manager for flexible displays with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Maryland. “They had a recognized need for lightweight, rugged, flexible displays. And, although industry was working on it, the goal of the program was to speed the development so that the Army could get them sooner.”

The ARL is conducting the flexible display research and development in conjunction with Arizona State University and a growing list of industry and academic partners (see box, page 47). The focus of the nearly decade-long collaborative effort is the Flexible Display Center (FDC), located in Tempe, Arizona.

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