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Defense

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. 

GAO Calls for Army to Tweak NIE

August 28, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) is a good idea that is not achieving its potential, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Special Ops Hunts for Psyops Tool

August 26, 2013

The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is seeking radio broadcast systems that can search for and acquire every AM and FM radio station in a region and then broadcast a message across the specific area. This capability would be used to share information simultaneously with residents in locations where unrest or natural or manmade disasters make it difficult to communicate. The synchronous over-broadcast system must be lightweight, able to operate on multiple frequencies and demonstrated at a technology readiness level 8 or higher.

To propose their secure communications system, companies must submit a summary outline not to exceed five pages that describes the performance specifications. Submissions must include name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email address for all points of contact.

This is a sources sought announcement only. If SOCOM decides to acquire one of the proposed systems, a pre-award synopsis will be posted on FedBizOpps.gov to pursue procurement.

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.

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