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Defense

Eyeing Next-Generation Biometrics

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The FBI is on schedule to finish implementing next-generation biometric capabilities, including palm, iris and face recognition, in the summer of next year. New technology processes data more rapidly, provides more accurate information and improves criminal identification and crime-solving abilities.

Identity Technology Breakthroughs Impact National Security

September 1, 2013
BY Rita Boland

Scientists are enabling DNA analysis to function as a virtual sketch artist to figure out who people are and what they look like even in situations with no eyewitnesses. The developments have particular application to counterterrorism but could affect a wider array of fields as well. Even more importantly, the personnel are developing bioinformatic software solutions databases to manage quick interpretation of data for usability.

Transforming NATO's Information Technology Architecture

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

NATO officials are laying the groundwork for a centralized enterprise networking architecture with invitations to bid expected to be released by year’s end. The new approach is expected to offer a number of benefits, including cost savings, improved network reliability, enhanced cybersecurity and greater flexibility for warfighters.

Officials at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency kicked off the alliancewide effort in August of last year shortly after the agency was created. The initial goal was simply to examine the alliance’s information technology infrastructure, how it could be modernized, where efficiencies could be gained and how to make the business case for modernization. The NCI Agency partnered with the Network Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) for the study. “We didn’t want to take just an academic view or an internal belly-button look. We wanted to get industry involved and find out what is within the realm of possibility today,” says Peter Lenk, chief, Capability Area Team Seven, NCI Agency.

The result will be a historical transition for the alliance. “We are for the first time, or one of the first times in NATO, looking at things as an enterprise. We’re starting to try to consolidate things across traditional boundaries,” Lenk says. “Through the creation of the NCI Agency, which has a mandate across all of the components of NATO, now we have within our grasp the ability to do this, and we can clearly see the advantages.”

Telecommunications Leaves Mark on Afghanistan

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

A massive telecommunications infrastructure modernization effort in Afghanistan is designed to contribute to socioeconomic development; provide entry into the global information society; and support national prosperity, sustainability and stability. A key part of that effort is coming to fruition: officials with a telecommunications advisory group in that country expect the completion very soon—possibly this month—of a fiber-optic ring around the nation’s perimeter.

Army Signal Expands Its Reach

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army Signal Corps is expanding the work its personnel conduct while dealing with technology and operational challenges that both help and hinder its efforts. On the surface, Army signal is facing the common dilemma afflicting many other military specialties—it must do more with fewer resources.

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.

Bringing Together Signal and Cyber

September 1, 2013
By Paul A. Strassmann

In his June interview with SIGNAL Magazine, Gen. Keith B. Alexander advocated bringing together the signal community, signals intelligence and the cyber community. In that interview, he said, “We need to think of ourselves not as signals, not as intelligence, not as cyber, but instead as a team that puts us all together.” Yet, that goal raises several questions. How can these concepts be achieved? How can a combination of more than 15,000 system enclaves from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force become interoperable? What technologies are needed in the next five years while insufficient budgets make consolidations difficult?

Working Toward
 Worldwide Interoperability

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.

Szykman: Turning Big Data Into Big Information

August 30, 2013
By Max Cacas

 
Current efforts to deal with big data, the massive amounts of information resulting from an ever-expanding number of networked computers, storage and sensors,  go hand-in-hand with the government’s priority to sift through these huge datasets for important data.  So says Simon Szykman, chief information officer (CIO) with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
 
He told a recent episode of the “AFCEA Answers” radio program that the current digital government strategy includes initiatives related to open government and sharing of government data. “We’re seeing that through increased use of government datasets, and in some cases, opening up APIs (application programming interfaces) for direct access to government data.  So, we’re hoping that some of the things we’re unable to do on the government side will be done by citizens, companies, and those in the private sector to help use the data in new ways, and in new types of products.”
 
At the same time, the source of all that data is itself creating big data challenges for industry and government, according to Kapil Bakshi, chief solution architect with Cisco Public Sector in Washington, D.C.
 
“We expect as many as 50 billion devices to be connected to the internet by the year 2020.  These include small sensors, control system devices, mobile telephone devices.  They will all produce some form of data that will be collected by the networks, and flow back to a big data analytics engine.”  He adds that this forthcoming “internet of things,” and the resultant datasets, will require a rethinking of how networks are configured and managed to handle all that data. 
 

Open Data Initiative: Providing Fresh Ideas on Securely Sharing Information

August 30, 2013
By Paul Christman and Jamie Manuel

For years, the Defense department took a “do it alone” posture when it came to sharing information and protecting its networks and communication infrastructures from security attacks. Now in an interconnected world of reduced budgets and ever-increasing security risks, the DOD is fundamentally changing the way it approaches information sharing and cybersecurity. 

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