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News Briefs

JIE Reaches Initial Operational Capability

August 6, 2013

 

The U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) achieved initial operational capability (IOC) on July 31. The JIE is the largest restructuring of information technology management in the military’s history. At the end of the project, personnel will have access to a secure joint environment made up of a shared information technology infrastructure, a single security architecture and enterprise services.

The environment is now available across U.S. European and Africa commands and is managed by the first Enterprise Operations Center, Stuttgart, Germany. The IOC is a validation of the processes and relationships the department will use to support center operations as the environment matures.

 

Subcommittee Chair Urges COTS Use

August 6, 2013

 

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is encouraging the U.S. Coast Guard to work with industry to identify the latest unmanned vehicles to improve maritime safety and security while saving money. In a recent Congressional Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing, Hunter, the chairman of the subcommittee, shared that he has seen a commercially built autonomous surface vehicle that can facilitate sub-sea to surface to satellite communications.

“The Coast Guard should be the one who experiments with this type of technology, who puts it to use, who saves a lot of money doing it and [who] don’t have to go through any government contractors at all because it’s out there sitting waiting for you to buy it. You don’t have to necessarily know what to call it to know that it can save you lots of money, make you very efficient and more effective on the ocean,” Hunter said.

The congressman saw the demonstration of Wave Glider autonomous vehicles during a visit to Liquid Robotics, developers of the technology. The marine robots can remain at sea for months or even years at a time by tapping into the energy supplied by waves and the sun.

 

Dispatch Center Incorporates Newest Technology, Promotes Interoperability

August 1, 2013

The new next-generation dispatch center for the San Luis Obispo County, California, Sheriff’s Office is one of the first in the nation to be completely Internet protocol-based, bridging its existing radio system with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. The new system turns a standard PC into a communications dispatch console and also turns a smartphone into a multi-channel land mobile radio handset for secure, on-demand push-to-talk communication. The system, from Raytheon and Twisted Pair, allows for better coordination for first responders as public safety entities move toward the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, a secure, nationwide interoperable broadband network.

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.

New Touch Technology Has Sensitive Skin

July 26, 2013

Engineers at UC Berkeley have created a system of sensors on flexible plastic that reacts to pressure by lighting up. The new "e-skin" recognizes the amount of pressure and responds with a brighter or dimmer light accordingly.

The technology can be used to give robots a more precise sense of touch and also might be used to create interactive wallpapers or automobile dashboards.

What differentiates the e-skin from other touch sensor networks is its flexibility and interactivity, says Chuan Wang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University. Wang participated in the research as a post-doctoral student at UC Berkeley, as part of a research team led by Ali Javey. Because the e-skin is pliable, it can be applied as a laminate to other surfaces.



You can view the e-skin in action here:

 

Smartphone Increases Soldier Intelligence

July 26, 2013

10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded. It displays the locations of fellow soldiers, allows placement of location digital chem-light markers, and enables warfighters to communicate through texting. This information is then relayed to commanders over encrypted tactical radios.

“We are beholden to the commercial industry,” Jason Regnier, project manager, Nett Warrior, PEO Soldier, says. At approximately $700 per unit, buying the devices commercially costs substantially less than procuring similar devices from contractors, he explains.

In addition, the ability to buy newer versions of a device as technology matures means soldiers can transition to up-to-date capabilities as they develop. “So when the Note IIs are gone, they’re gone. Then we’ll have to be ready to buy Note IIIs or whatever it’s going to be,” Regnier relates.

Before the smartphones are integrated into a Net Warrior system, most of the communications capability is disabled, including the cellular antennas and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. A USB connection with a soldier’s hip-mounted Rifleman Radio enables communication.

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.

Unmanned Submersibles Competition Challenges Students

July 18, 2013

The Office of Naval Research and the AUVSI Foundation are co-sponsoring an autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) competition, which supports interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education while increasing the pool of AUV ideas. The 16th International RoboSub Competition, titled “License to Dive,” will challenge university and high school student teams to bump buoys, park, fire foam torpedoes through a hexagonal cutout, deposit two markers into bins while submerged, and deliver two PVS mock pizza boxes to a specified location. They will be judged based on points awarded for how well their AUV completed the tasks. Teams also must create websites and write journal papers that outline their work.

Cash prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges; the 2012 competition first through third place winning teams took home $8,000, $4,000 and $3,000, respectively.

A real-time webcast of the 2013 RoboSub finals will begin on July 28 at 1 p.m. PDT.

Corporate Espionage Concerns Could Affect Contracting

July 17, 2013

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that he is concerned about the level of cyber attacks affecting defense suppliers. As a result, he is considering changes in contracting procedures to mitigate the risk of corporate espionage. “I’m talking particularly about design information that might not be classified, but if you acquire that information, it certainly shortens your lead time to building things, and it reduces your costs,” he told committee members. “That’s an advantage we don’t want to give our potential adversaries.”

Kendall expressed his concerns during his testimony in support of the reauthorization of the Defense Production Act, which grants the president the power to ensure timely procurement of essential services and materials during war or national emergencies. Parts of the act are set to expire on September 30, 2014.

The law is an urgent operational requirement that is as necessary today as it was in 1950 when it was enacted, Kendall said. “Industry has no obligation to prioritize national security requirements, and at times, they’re financially motivated to do otherwise,” he stated. “New, expanded and modernized domestic industrial capabilities reduce the risk of foreign dependencies caused by geopolitical factors or other economic issues and strengthen the economic and technological competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.”

Electronic Warfare Tool Enters Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase

July 9, 2013

The U.S. Army is creating a software tool that will enable soldiers to coordinate and synchronize electronic warfare operations across the electromagnetic battlefield. The Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) will feature 22 distinct functions, including deconflicting offensive, defensive and friendly signals as well as integrating intelligence and terrain data. As part of the Army’s long-term plan for the Integrated Electronic Warfare System (IEWS), electronic warfare officers could use the software for pre-mission planning and to identify threats.

EWPMT development is taking place in six phases, and during the third quarter of fiscal year 2015, the first set of software tools will be tested in select units. The tool is scheduled to be fully operational across the Army by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Col. Joseph P. DuPont, USA, project manager, Program Executive Office, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, shared additional information about the EWPMT and the IEWS in a presentation to the AFCEA Aberdeen Chapter in November 2012 and in an article in SIGNAL Magazine in April.

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