Work has begun at the federal level to develop a nationwide dedicated, reliable network, which will provide advanced data communications capabilities to police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will enable public safety personnel to make cellular-quality calls and send data, video, images and text—similar to the capabilities offered on commercial networks. Incident commanders and local officials will have priority access and control over the network. Interoperability issues that result from stovepiped local systems, geographic limitations and other regional constraints also will be resolved.
SIGNAL Online Exclusives
Information technology and communications companies doing business with the federal government may want to look at the Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework being released for public comment on October 29. The framework, which is a part of President Obama’s executive order for Improving Critical Infrastructure, outlines a series of voluntary steps that organizations can take to improve their network security. While contractors can rely on complying with existing rules and regulations for cybersecurity, federal officials said that enterprises may want to see how different sectors are approaching network security, as described in the framework.
The new head of the U.S. Army Cyber Command cites the importance of looking carefully at what cyberwarriors do to determine how best to manage the men and women tasked with protecting the service’s information technology networks. This focus on personnel addresses challenges ranging from retaining talent to ensuring that cyber operations have the best resources—human and technological—for their mission.
The latest advancement in graphene research shows promise for improving electronics and biological or chemical sensors by pushing or pulling liquid droplets across the surface. By placing long chemical gradients onto the graphene, scientists can control the substances’ flow. Through this capability, scientists can create larger puddles, making it easier to detect dangers such as nerve agents or bacteria in water.
The U.S. Defense Department has spent the last decade developing a family of multiband programmable radios and waveforms designed to move voice, data and video with the goal of connecting small tactical units with larger battlefield networks. Much of this work has focused on supporting warfighters on the ground through vehicle and man-portable radios. But the services now are looking at other ways to connect troops by installing the new radios in aircraft.
Biometrics is on the verge of becoming more pervasive than ever in everyday life, setting the stage for personal identifiers to take the place of other common security measures. The expansion mirrors increased usage in fields such as military operations, citizen enrollment and public safety.
The military’s plan to create a single, secure information-sharing environment for all the services finally is taking shape. After much talk and planning, the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) now is being built with its first component reaching initial operational capability this summer.
The first step toward an enterprisewide information environment is taking place on desktops belonging to personnel with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Deployment has begun for the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, or ICITE, which aims to provide a common computing environment based on cloud technology (see SIGNAL Magazine articles Managing Change in the Intelligence Community and Intelligence CIOs Teaming for Change from October 2012).
Two ongoing military programs, one getting ready to deploy and another still in the prototype stage, aim to connect troops at the very tactical edge back to larger military data and communications networks. These programs—one service-oriented, the other an agency effort—are part of the Defense Department’s thrust to make warfighters, especially individual soldiers in small units, more connected.
Officials at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, are developing a program that allows students from any academic discipline to work closely with the U.S. intelligence community in a variety of actual national security-related problems. The university is on track to begin offering a minor in intelligence analysis in the relatively near future and a major in the next five years.
Cutting-edge consumer technology that once seemed possible only in science-fiction films now is in the hands of experts and innovators working to solve government challenges. From wearable mobile devices to a sensor that lets you control your screen with the wave of a hand or lift of a finger, these tools could one day be key to serving soldiers in the field.
The U.S. Army should subject new technologies to developmental testing before moving them into operational testing at its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs), according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Another recommendation, which is under consideration by the Defense Department, is for the Army to correct issues that arise during an NIE before buying and fielding systems.
As a part of its ongoing efforts to protect critical national infrastructure, the Obama administration has been actively working on making government computer networks more robust and resistant to cyber attack. To do this, the White House has looked internally at federal agencies to put into place new metrics and policies to improve their security stance and externally, reaching out to foreign governments to set up international accords on cyber espionage, a top administration official said.
AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum Online Show Daily, Day 2
Quote of the Day:
“Whether it is national security information for the president, or financial information for a chief executive, when you don’t know whether the data is true or false, it’s a really bad day.”—Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber at the National Intelligence Council in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
The U.S. Army is currently delivering a new and improved Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool (CJSMPT) to divisions scheduled for deployment in Afghanistan. The software automates the spectrum management process, dramatically reducing the amount of time and paperwork associated with spectrum allocation and mission planning in a tactical environment.
For operational security reasons, Army officials cannot reveal exactly which divisions will be receiving the systems or when, but for the next few months, they will be working to get the system out to Afghanistan.
In October 2014, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is scheduled to convene its Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea. The conference, held every four years, is a venue for ITU member nations, including the United States, to discuss matters pertaining to the management of the planet’s telecommunications infrastructure. One of the most contentious and controversial issues dealt with in previous meetings of this type is global governance of the Internet.
The U.S. Navy has awarded the $3.45 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract to replace the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to a consortium headed by HP. Other team members include AT&T Government Solutions; IBM Global Business Services Federal; Lockheed Martin Services; and Northrop Grumman Services.
The ability to incorporate innovative technologies is a key element of the contract, according to Victor S. Gavin, program executive officer for Navy enterprise information systems. The government will have a much greater opportunity to transition to more innovative technologies—at cost—as they come into being, he says.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, has unveiled two new supercomputers that are among the fastest and most powerful devices of their kind. The devices are part of a recently opened supercomputing center that is the new locus of the service’s use of high-speed computing not only for basic scientific research and development, but also to solve basic warfighter needs using the latest available technologies.
The United States must “normalize” cyberspace operations if it is to protect and defend cyber assets, including the critical infrastructure, according to the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Gen. Keith B. Alexander, USA, who also is the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS), told the Senate Committee on Appropriations Wednesday that the nation faces “diverse and persistent threats” that cannot be countered through the efforts of any single organization.