News Briefs

October 29, 2012
By George I. Seffers

By mid-November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are scheduled to complete development of an interactive, digital training module to teach commercial airline employees to assist in the fight against human trafficking. The BLI training course is an interactive, self-paced training module that details human trafficking indicators aviation personnel are most likely to observe in the air environment. Furthermore, the course provides information on how to report human trafficking to U.S. law enforcement effectively.

October 12, 2012

With the close of the fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Defense has officially shuttered the Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS). In its place, the Joint Tactical Networking Center (JTNC), which opened on October 1, will now oversee the development of the Software Defined Radio (SDR) program, including waveforms and network management.

September 30, 2012

The U.S. Army’s Project Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) is partnering with academic institutions to build on lessons learned in combat. Officials aim to advance the operational understanding of UAS technologies and explore a range of rapidly expanding uses for them, including within U.S. airspace. For example, unmanned aerial vehicles could be used in disaster response and humanitarian relief efforts as well as environmental and law enforcement initiatives. For some projects, the agreements will enable students to visit U.S.

September 5, 2012

Lockheed Martin Corporation is sponsoring a competition designed to encourage new ideas about enhancing global security. Titled "Innovate the Future," the competition is asking for ideas on a range of topics, including sustainable energy, cybersecurity and health care. A total of $50,000 will be awarded: one $25,000 grand prize, one $10,000 second place prize and three $5,000 third place prizes. In addition, the grand prize winner will receive an incubation contract with the Maryland Technology Institute at the University of Maryland to further validate and develop the idea. Contest entrants must submit a brief description of their idea online; a committee will select the winners.

August 23, 2012
By George Seffers

Aerofex Corporation, Manhattan Beach, California, recently released video of a proof-of-concept, motorcycle-like hovercraft that requires no flight control software and is touted as being intuitive to ride. The design pushes dust, snow or debris away from the pilot to avoid the brownout or whiteout conditions helicopter pilots often face in sandy or snowy terrain. The hover bike could be used for personal entertainment, border patrol in areas without roads or in a fleet of first-responder craft. Company officials envision an unmanned version in the future.

August 21, 2012

The U.S. Defense Department is creating a department-wide system to track and manage human subjects in studies funded by the federal government. A Web-based application developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), called the Protections in Research, Oversight Management Information System (PROMIS), will form the basis for the new system. PROMIS enables researchers to submit human research protocols and other documention for review by U.S. Marine Corps and Navy compliance specialists. Since the decision to create a larger tracking system, the ONR personnel have been creating enhancements to PROMIS so it can function as a unified platform to serve needs across the U.S.

August 17, 2012

A new robotic hand, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, mimics the capabilities of a human hand and could help disarm improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Sandia Hand project aimed to create a cost-effective product for wide distribution to the troops with the flexibility and durability necessary to save lives in the field.

August 13, 2012

The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory trained Marines-for the first time ever-using multiple unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in a convoy. Seven Marines were trained on the Oshkosh Corporation's UGV, which uses the company's TerraMax technology to operate autonomously. TerraMax integrates high-power computers, intelligence, drive-by-wire technology and distributed sensing systems. One operator supervised the control of two vehicles, even in black-out mode during night operations.

July 25, 2012

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate has unveiled an open source cybersecurity tool for information sharing across the Internet. Open Secure Socket Layer (OpenSSL) version 2.0 is a free, publicly available security application that meets all federal security guidelines and is now available for government agencies. All agencies using cryptographic software validated for Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 can now use the new version, which applies to cryptography that protect sensitive or valuable data within the federal government.

July 23, 2012

The U.S. Army's System of Systems Integration Directorate (SoSI) is seeking participants for the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.2 event, which is scheduled to take place at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range in May 2013. Only mature solutions that focus on SoSI-identified network gaps will be considered.

July 18, 2012

Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen who think they represent the best-of-the-best of military communicators have an unusual opportunity to prove it. The Joint Communications Unit (JCU)-comprising elite military signaleers who support special operations forces-is looking to take on 100 new members over the next few years. Applicants will have to pass mental, physical and skills tests, but selection will result in intense, advanced technical certifications. Unit members also receive special pay benefits. The lowest rank in the JCU is an E-5. Most positions are for enlisted members, with some mid-grade officer billets.

July 12, 2012

On Wednesday, the Defense Department (DOD) issued its long-awaited cloud computing strategy. Officials also announced in a memo from Teri Takai, chief information officer for the DOD, that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will oversee the new strategy as "enterprise cloud service broker." The designation means that all department components are required to obtain cloud-computing capabilities through DISA or to obtain a waiver from Takai's office as the DOD's designated review authority.

July 9, 2012

Materials researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new class of nanoporous materials that could lead to more effective and less costly radiation detectors for homeland security inspectors. The new material works with plastic scintillators to make them glow brightly in the presence of charged particles or high-energy photons. Sandia officials say though more work is needed, they are currently seeking commercial partners to license the technology.

June 28, 2012

The Graph500 executive committee has announced specifications that will better represent ways to rate the large-scale data analytics that are key to high-performance computing. This single-source, shortest-path specification to assess computing performance will measure the closest distance between selected items. The move is oriented toward enormous graph-based data problems. Graph500 rates machines based on their ability to solve complex problems with seemingly infinite components instead of ranking machines based on speed. Big data has been a problem for the public and private sectors and is important in fields such as cybersecurity.

June 25, 2012

Organizations in Asia, Europe and the United States have created cybersecurity principles to guide government agencies as they establish policies to protect data and networks. The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, DIGITALEUROPE and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) developed the guidelines to ensure that international collaboration, cooperation and trade will not be compromised as the result of stringent cybersecurity policies.

June 18, 2012

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is actively seeking partners to conduct research in the newly opened Cybersecurity Technologies Research Laboratory (CTRL). SNL held the grand opening for the facility at the Livermore Valley Open Campus on June 12. The CTRL offers the capability to run experiments and freely discuss a wide range of cyber research issues. Additionally, U.S. and international users can collaborate without some of the unrelated restrictions that are often associated with a national laboratory.

June 13, 2012

Federal agencies and emergency response organizations are invited to challenge one company to solve their most difficult remote communications and interoperability problems. RapydConnex will award free technology assessments and the scope of preliminary solutions to qualifying entrants. To be considered for the award, organizations fill out the challenge form. Experts at RapydConnex will assess each submission to determine those that best match the company's solutions. Submissions must be received by August 31, 2012, and winners will be notified no later than September 14, 2012.

April 23, 2012

The U.S. Defense Department has revamped its Telework Program for the civilian work force. Leaders at each Defense Department component now are required to promote telework within their organizations and to take all possible steps to overcome artificial barriers to program implementation. In addition, they must authorize telework for the maximum number of positions without compromising mission readiness and integrate telework into continuity-of-operations activities. These alterations to the former telework policy evolved out of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.

April 19, 2012

More than 70 percent of energy security professionals believe smart grid security standards cannot keep pace with the ever-changing technology and threats, according to a recent survey sponsored by nCircle and EnergySec, a public-private partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The online survey, conducted in March, questioned 104 participants in the energy and utility industry about current smart grid security measures.

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