News Briefs

April 5, 2016
An IARPA program will study the human brain in an effort to make machines smarter.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has awarded an $18.7 million contract to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, as part of a larger project with Baylor College of Medicine and Princeton University, to create the largest-ever road map to understand how the function of networks in the brain’s cortex relates to the underlying connections of its individual neurons. The project is part of the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program, which seeks to revolutionize machine learning by reverse-engineering the algorithms of the brain.

April 29, 2016

A group of University of Maryland (UMD) researchers has developed an algorithm that can not only detect a face, but also simultaneously determine the gender and pose, and extract fiducial, or reference, points.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has provided funding and support for the invention, which has been dubbed HyperFace. The algorithm simultaneously detects faces; finds facial landmarks, including eye center, nose tip, etc.; estimates the head pose; and recognizes the person’s gender from any real-world images and videos, Rama Chellappa, UMD chair of electrical and computer engineering, said in a written announcement.

April 28, 2016
The Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) will be on board the International Space Station. Image courtesy of NASA.

A biological detection system developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists will soon take a giant leap into outer space, lab officials announced.

April 26, 2016

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has renamed the Continental United States Field Command to reflect the organization’s evolution as a global service provider. The organization, which will soon consolidate the majority of its personnel into a new facility at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is now called the DISA Global Operations Command (DGOC).

The organization, which was informally known as DISA CONUS, was one of four regional field commands and Defense Network Operations Centers operated by DISA. It was originally established in 2003. Unlike DISA’s Central, European and Pacific field commands, DISA CONUS was not directly aligned or co-located with a combatant command headquarters. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce today issued the "Public Safety Analytics R&D Roadmap," which outlines opportunities to spur innovation and improve public safety by making data more accessible and useful for police, firefighters, emergency medical services and other first responders.

April 18, 2016
By George I. Seffers

Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Virginia, announced today company personnel successfully flew a subscale version of its LightningStrike vertical take-off and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-plane) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The flight of the subscale aircraft met a DARPA risk reduction requirement, focusing on validation of the aerodynamic design and flight control system.

April 13, 2016

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a partnership with the NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) to develop new technology solutions through publicly crowdsourced prize competitions.  

Crowdsourcing and incentive prizes across industry have led to the successful creation of advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and improved data analytics. The DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate is expanding its efforts to solicit innovations like these through its partnership with NASA, according to an S&T statement

April 7, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate announced today the implementation of a new technology to streamline and improve secure information sharing between the DHS and its partners. The Backend Attribute Exchange will simplify user identification and verification between different organizations for the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) by eliminating redundancies while ensuring proper security.

March 31, 2016

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the final version of a document outlining its process for developing cryptographic standards and guidelines. NIST Cryptographic Standards and Guidelines Development Process (NISTIR 7977) is part of NIST’s “effort to ensure a robust, widely understood and participatory process for developing cryptography,” the institute said in a written announcement.  

March 29, 2016

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California, today announced it will receive a first-of-a-kind brain-inspired supercomputing platform for deep learning developed by IBM Research. Based on a breakthrough neurosynaptic computer chip called IBM TrueNorth, the scalable platform will process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses and consume only 2.5 watts of power—the energy equivalent of a hearing aid battery.

March 2, 2016

The Defense Department announced today that it will invite vetted hackers to test the department’s cybersecurity under a unique pilot program. The “Hack the Pentagon” initiative is the first cyber bug bounty program in the history of the federal government.

February 29, 2016
Georgia Tech researchers built the "Rescue Robot" to determine whether or not building occupants would trust a robot designed to help them evacuate a high-rise in case of fire or other emergency. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

People may trust robots too much for their own safety, a new study suggests. In a mock building fire, test subjects followed instructions from an “Emergency Guide Robot” even after the machine had proven itself unreliable and after some participants were told the robot had broken down.

The research was designed to determine whether or not building occupants would trust a robot designed to help them evacuate a high-rise in case of fire or other emergency. But the researchers were surprised to find the test subjects followed the robot's instructions even when the machine’s behavior should not have inspired trust.

February 8, 2016

The U.S. Coast Guard published guidance February 5 that allows mariners to use electronic charts and publications instead of paper charts, maps and publications. Combining the suite of electronic charts from the U.S. hydrographic authorities and the Electronic Charting System (ECS) standards published this past summer by the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, electronic charts can provide mariners with a substitute for the traditional official paper charts. 

The Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular, NVIC 01-16 establishes uniform guidance on what is now considered equivalent to chart and publication carriage requirements.

December 17, 2015
By George I. Seffers

The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC), Ashburn, Virginia, has released a report, "Harnessing Big Data within the Federal Government – Findings and Recommendations of ATARC’s Big Data Innovation Lab," which offers five recommendations for government to consider while developing big data strategies.

The recommendations are:

December 11, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today announced its first Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation (OTS) aimed at non-traditional performers such as technology startups to offer solutions to some of the toughest threats facing DHS and the homeland security mission. Awarded through Other Transaction Solicitation HSHQDC-16-R-B0005, the first call for proposals is looking for solutions to improve situational awareness and security measures for protecting

November 30, 2015

The U.S. military and the Australian Defense Force noted improved connectivity while testing an advanced Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) waveform technology during the Talisman Sabre 2015 joint training exercise, according to news statements.

The militaries tested a high-performance IP satellite broadband system developed by Hughes Network Systems LLC. The HX System is designed for carrier-grade IP broadband for maritime, air and ground-based mobile networks and video, voice and data trunking for mesh networks.

October 28, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A JLENS aerostat is seen here on White Sands Missile Range. Earlier today, a JLENS aerostat detached from its mooring and has since been grounded.

Earlier today, a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) surveillance system aerostat detached from its mooring station in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and apparently explored the fall foliage northeast of Washington, D.C., over Pennsylvania.

The hot-headed hooligan has since been grounded. It is likely deflated and in the vicinity of Moreland Township, Pennsylvania.

October 22, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Defense Department has approved the Navy CANES program for full deployment.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, recently approved the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) for full deployment, U.S. Navy officials have announced. The program puts in place a robust and secure networking environment across ships and submarines that can fulfill the Navy's vision of information dominance. 

September 25, 2015
By George I. Seffers
President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China hold a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, last year. Today, the two announced a historic agreement designed to curb cyber aggression.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed that neither country will “support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors,” according to a White House announcement released today.

September 30, 2015
By George I. Seffers

As part of its efforts to provide practical solutions to real-world cybersecurity challenges, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting comments on a draft guidance to help organizations better control access to information systems.

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