The first lesson of economics is scarcity. When supply is low and demand high, prices soar, and some will go without. In the U.S. Defense Department, both the demands and costs for reliable, resilient, and robust communication services continue to grow. As the services consider options to privatize aspects of communication, both the opportunities and challenges require thorough consideration.
Disruptive by Design
A recent posting of a satellite image from the U.S. National Training Center by Col. Scott Woodward, USA, raised a lot of eyebrows. The image shows a cluster of electromagnetic signals emitted from a battalion-sized unit participating in a large-scale training event. These signals were captured as part of the exercise from more than 10 kilometers away. This picture showed what many of us already know: we have an electromagnetic emission discipline problem.
The 2020 election may be the most vulnerable yet. Last year, several federal agencies released a joint statement identifying election security as a “top priority for the U.S.” However, some have proposed mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences associated with not social distancing. Why are we going backward instead of forward? Reverting backward during a disaster only adds challenges and difficulties with an already broken voting system. We need to be proactive, not reactive, when electing leaders at all levels across the country.
Many experts have imagined a future in which the Department of Defense deploys an army of gadgets to track the health of individual warfighters in real time. However, most did not envision a global pandemic being the tipping point for the large-scale adoption of devices.
As the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, leaders want to better understand the health of soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors in real time, securely while maintaining some semblance of privacy. As leaders and program managers wrestle with decisions to employ these technologies, they must address information security, privacy and the need to know.
The Air Force Cost Analysis Agency (AFCAA) offers multiple examples of data visualization tools being actively used for cost analysis, including the Air Force Total Ownership Cost (AFTOC) program decision support system, the Flying Hour Program and an array of research projects. However, these are far from the only examples. Data visualization tool power is popping up everywhere.
The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Memorandum M-19-18, “Federal Data Strategy - A Framework for Consistency” acts as a foundation of guiding principles and best practices to help agencies update the way they manage and use data and improve on information delivery, service and consistency. The intent is to pull government into the modern technological times in which we live while focusing on the ethical and compliance challenges of governing, managing and protecting data.
Over the past few months, I have participated in a forum to help competitive graduates find quality internships and jobs after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious engineering and computer science programs. Listening to the next generation of technologists, innovators and leaders has helped me understand their concerns and desires in the hiring process. I have also gained new perspectives on what applicants think employers do right and wrong.
The following tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are meant to help those in the government and defense sectors attract tech talent today.
Like me, you may have thought black is black and as dark as it gets. However, courtesy of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), individuals are creating blacker and blacker, even blackest versions of black. A quick Google or YouTube search yields all sorts of interesting results from BMWs painted in Vantablack, to the “blackest little black dress.”
In practice, CNTs are materials that can be vertically aligned to capture light in the 99.9XX percent range and produce blacker versions of the blackest black. CNTs are microscopic filaments of carbon that can be grown on surfaces for various uses.
When it comes to acquisition reforms, many know of the talent management, leader development and other transaction authority endeavors, but in this column I want to highlight a lesser-known effort, Army Directive 2018-26 (Enabling Modernization Through the Management of Intellectual Property), which will be incorporated into a number of other Army regulations covering acquisition, technology transfer and integrated product support.
When Google announced it was acquiring Nest for a little over $3 billion in 2014, analysts thought the company wanted to enter the home appliances market.
It was all about the data.
Google gained access to a treasure trove of information about consumer demands for heating and cooling. The company learned when people turned on their furnaces and shut off their air conditioners. Google could pair this information with the type of household, neighborhood and city.
A deepfake is an artificial intelligence-based technology used to produce content that presents something that didn’t actually occur. This includes text, audio, video and images. Deepfakes are a recent disruptive development in the technology world, and both the House and Senate are investigating the phenomena and have introduced bills to combat these potentially dangerous creations.
In the cyber realm, organizations need the means to rapidly identify emerging threats, immediately respond to mitigate risk, and systematically learn from these encounters—just as the immune system responds to a virus.
A single tool, process or team cannot deliver true cybersecurity. Collecting, analyzing and disseminating intelligence requires a converged organization that fuses expertise across domains. As adversaries possessing sophisticated expertise and considerable resources target multiple attack vectors—cyber, electromagnetic and physical, for example—cyber leaders must develop teams and systematic processes to rapidly transform analysis into action.
Want to be disruptive, I mean truly disruptive? Try delving into history while surrounded by software engineers and app developers. Watch how the presence of a book on Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace in the 19th century raises eyebrows at your next scrum team meeting. Be passionate about the history of technology, and you will disrupt.
I recently completed a short course on the history of computer science. Accounts of generations of scientists and engineers stepping from one advancement to the next through iterative problem solving efforts provided rich details about how computers progressed and the thinking of those working to advance the broader field of study.
There has been a quiet revolution in the television industry thanks to the vision of Adde Granberg, chief technology officer and head of production at Swedish Television SVT.
When we watched Lindsey Vonn retire in February of this year after an amazing career as an alpine skier, a quiet revolution happened behind the cameras. What looked like a normal, well-produced live TV event on the surface was, in fact, the world’s first remotely produced large-scale live TV production. In the world of live TV production, this is almost considered a quantum leap.
Benefits associated with agility, scalability, ease of management and increased security justify the Defense Department’s investments in a transition to cloud services. As each military service rolls out new cloud capabilities, however, they may find that simply building these solutions will not attract organizations to use them. A misalignment of various motivations and an array of complex factors will impose costs that limit leaders’ freedom of movement in deploying any universal cloud solution. Getting the people and processes right matters just as much as the right technology.
Server Farm to Tabled Agreements
In his famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” If you have read the poem or analyzed it, as many a high school English teacher has required, you know that Frost suggests taking the road less traveled is the better choice. And while this may be true for adventure seekers and wanderers out there, here in the world of IT I recognize the benefits of not wandering off on my own. The life cycle of network equipment can be five to seven years, or even longer, so on this cusp of 400G it is important to choose optics that offer interoperability for the long term.
What’s smaller than small? Nano. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. At a scale smaller than a grain of salt, a blood cell or a virus, resides the nanoverse. Nanoparticles range from one to 100 nanometers. For perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
Many believe the development of nanotechnologies will forever change our world. Rather than taking what the planet provides, we can make what we want, beginning at the smallest scales. From microprocessors to minuscule organ-on-a-chip devices, the forefront of creation begins with some of the tiniest objects. With nano, a new era in capabilities is moving from the horizon to the now.
While the U.S. Defense Department struggles to connect tactical and strategic networks, industry has cracked the interoperability code. Commercial pressure to develop a digital ecosystem where any device delivers content across platforms and service providers has led to robust industry standards and intuitive application programming interfaces.
Increased interoperability and access, however, bring increased risk, which discourages the bridging of networks and enterprise services. Innovators must face these fears head-on. Strategic-tactical network integration requires a plan for analyzing risk, employing control measures, developing operating procedures and training across organizations.
Ever-expanding reviews and policies aren’t the only way to control enterprise information technology projects. Instead, management should establish clear standards and incentivize project managers to choose enterprise-friendly designs that streamline external reviews and eliminate the delays and costs associated with compliance.
Information technology projects have distinct requirements: cybersecurity, privacy and Section 508 compliance. These necessary requirements add a significant burden and can cause slowdowns and cost overruns. Other external challenges come from the budgeting process, procurement and configuration management.
G-Invoicing: Sounds interesting by name alone, right? Chatter among the U.S. Defense Department financial management communities and peripheral groups supporting government invoicing confirms said interest. Many of my colleagues and I want to know more, and I hope you do too because it is changing the way intragovernmental transactions work. In the last year or so, questions, thoughts and, most recently, training are informing audiences about G-Invoicing.