FedScoop http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:26:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Shark Tank’ meets smart cities at NIST’s Global Cities workshop http://fedscoop.com/nist-global-cities-workshop-internet-of-things/ http://fedscoop.com/nist-global-cities-workshop-internet-of-things/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:26:51 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63578 NIST hosted its Global Cities Challenge workshop Monday with over 200 people coming together to harness the Internet of Things to advance the world's cities.

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From electricity to pollution to water management, some of the brightest minds in the world gathered at NIST headquarters Monday to leverage the Internet of Things for deployment in the world's cities.

From electricity to pollution to water management, some of the brightest minds in the world gathered at NIST headquarters Monday to leverage the Internet of Things for deployment in the world’s cities.

 

Take one-part “Shark Tank,” one-part creative writing workshop, add in more than 200 highly-intelligent people from across the world and have them all figure out ways to leverage the Internet of Things. The result: just what Sokwoo Rhee was expecting when he was planning the Global Cities Challenge.

Rhee was joined Monday by leaders from federal, state and municipal governments, along with representatives from private industry, nonprofits and academia to create ways for the world’s cities to leverage cyber-physical systems, better known as the Internet of Things.

Two-minute “elevator pitches” formed the crux of the challenge, during which people made a case for how their technology or expertise could help a city leverage already-existing systems or allow a company to better refine a program already in effect.

Geoff Mulligan, a 2013 Presidential Innovation Fellow, speaks to a plenary session at NIST headquarters during the 2014 Global Cities Challenge. (Greg Otto)

Geoff Mulligan, a 2013 Presidential Innovation Fellow, speaks to a plenary session at NIST headquarters during the 2014 Global Cities Challenge. (Greg Otto)

From there, teams formed “action clusters” to create projects that will be built and tested over a nine-month period. Next summer, Rhee plans to highlight the projects at NIST’s Global City Teams Festival.

“The goal is to have every team who participates show some kind of tangible milestone,” Rhee told Fedscoop. “That can be a lot of different things. It can be a real deployment in five different cities or it can be the blueprint for the next step of the real deployment. Something that these teams can agree on and set as a goal.”

The teams had a host of ideas and projects to choose from in the plenary sessions. In just one, elevator pitches covered projects dealing with renewable energy, driverless transit, disaster response, smart buildings and wastewater management.

Sandra Baer, cities director for the advisory group Smart Cities Council, said the NIST event helps coalesce all of these ideas, which eventually will lead to cities harnessing already existing technology.

“There are so many diverse interests,” Baer told Fedscoop. “Somebody wants to work on transit or data or energy infrastructure. If you look at a big framework which NIST is planning to create, the idea is that you create this framework so that everybody has a piece in it, but in general we can work together.”

Baer said this technology helps serve as a path forward for many cities who are hesitant to devote already-tight funds to ambitious new products and services.

“If I’m a company, and I knock on the door of a city leader, big or small, they may or may not be receptive to that knock,” she said. “Should I talk to this company or should I talk to five other companies that are going to help me with my problem? How do I move forward with that priority? It’s not the technology. It’s much more ‘Can we get organized to set a focus and start making decisions?’”

Groups form "action clusters" to create "smart cities" projects at NIST's Global Cities Challenge. (Greg Otto)

Groups form “action clusters” to create “smart cities” projects at NIST’s Global Cities Challenge. (Greg Otto)

Rhee said the challenge comes as an interesting pivot point for NIST, with the agency trying to lay new standards for a market that will see 8 billion non-phone devices connected to the Internet by 2018.

“There are two different ways of doing it,” Rhee said. “We wait until things sort out and we jump in at the last moment. The other way is we actually participate in the process of sorting things out. I think this is the right thing to do for NIST.”

Rhee, who said the event’s registration exceeded his expectations, was excited about the projects he saw coming out of Monday’s challenge. While he said the Internet of Things has been around for some time, its future is not far off thanks to the projects coming from these challenges.

“This whole sensor network, end-to-end, all those things have existed for probably 20 years,” Rhee said. “It’s just that so far it has been the engineers’ work. Now we are at the point in the last couple years, because of big data and cloud computing, now having sensors all around started making sense.”

“We are at the junction point, a critical inflection point and this will accelerate going forward,” he said.

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White House announces grants for college IT programs http://fedscoop.com/biden-announces-grants-programs-community-colleges/ http://fedscoop.com/biden-announces-grants-programs-community-colleges/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:16:30 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63580 A portion of $450 million in grants from the White House will be used to fund 25 job-driven education programs in cybersecurity and information technology through partnerships with private sector companies like Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen and SpaceX, Vice President Joe Biden announced Monday.

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Vice President Joe Biden (Source: Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

A portion of $450 million in grants from the White House will be used to fund 25 job-driven education programs in cybersecurity and information technology through partnerships with private sector companies like Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen and SpaceX, Vice President Joe Biden announced Monday.

During remarks at the White House, Biden acknowledged that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that at the current pace, there will be only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill a projected 1.4 million jobs in IT by 2020. The statistic was pulled from a report the Vice President spearheaded at the President’s request on job-driven training.

According to a fact sheet from the White House, $15 million will go to the Maryland Cyber-Technology Job Pathways Consortium, which taps into the more than 130,000 IT jobs in the state. Maryland, according to the White House, has 49 percent more IT jobs than the national average, boasting thousands of “family-sustaining, entry-level cybersecurity jobs” available for an applicant with a professional certificate or associates degree.

The Maryland consortium consists of fourteen community colleges that will partner with IBM, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins, Booz Allen and a number of other IT companies and hospitals.

In order to increase a student’s success rate, the two-year program offered at the community colleges will be aligned with the National Security Agency’s guidelines for Security & Information Assurance programs. The program will graduate close to 2,000 students in the next three years.

In addition to Maryland, Indiana’s Ivy Tech will receive $2.5 million for a new school focusing on computing and informatics with eight IT programs offered across all 92 of Indiana’s counties.

Kentucky’s Consortia for IT Job Pathways in Computer and Medical Fields received $10 million for six of the state’s community colleges. With the funding, the consortia will develop new degrees in IT for computer and medical fields in partnership with the American Health Information Management Association, a national health IT industry association.

In Texas, $3.2 million in funding will go toward veteran-focused electronics and technology programs at Richland College.

Simultaneous with the announcement of the grants for community colleges, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report addressed to the president recommending the federal government work with industry, continue to support and research IT needs and to lead by example as a major employer of these IT program graduates.

The IT grants will be administered through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, which is jointly-run by the Labor and Education departments.

Through the $450 million in grants, Biden said the increased training for jobs needed across the country will open up a window for the middle class to take IT and other industry jobs.

“Americans want to work, all they want is a fair chance,” Biden said. “These grants provide hardworking Americans a fair shot. The American people have never ever let their country down, because it’s never been a good bet to bet against America.”

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NSF awards $17 million to make interdependent infrastructure more resilient http://fedscoop.com/nsf-awards-17-million-make-interdependent-infrastructure-resilient/ http://fedscoop.com/nsf-awards-17-million-make-interdependent-infrastructure-resilient/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:58:23 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63570 The National Science Foundation has awarded $17 million in grants to more than a dozen researchers at universities around the country to investigate ways to make infrastructure more resilient to disaster and disruption.

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NSF resiliency

A section of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, following a simulated earthquake shows interdependencies between the built environment and urban movement under everyday and crisis scenarios. (Credit: Paul M. Torrens, Geography and UMIACS, University of Maryland, College Park)

The National Science Foundation has awarded $17 million in grants to more than a dozen researchers at universities around the country to investigate ways to make infrastructure more resilient to disaster and disruption.

Many critical industries are interdependent, subjecting the entire interconnected system to interruption if one part encounters an issue. For instance, emergency response is reliant on telephone communication and cell towers, but during times of disaster cell service outages are very possible. Without the ability to alert the police, fire department or paramedics of an emergency, they are unable to perform their jobs to the fullest.

Within a new program called Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems (RIPS), NSF hopes this research will bring new understanding of the infrastructure and models of resilience. Specifically, RIPS researchers will study the interdependency of natural gas and electricity systems, power and communication networks, health care and cyber infrastructure and others others.

NSF has set a major goal of using the RIPS research to create computational models of interdependent infrastructure to try predicting what change to the system might cause.

“The RIPS investigations will elucidate interdependencies and potentially predict future infrastructure behaviors,” said Konstantinos Triantis, a lead on the RIPS project during his time as an NSF program officer. “How well researchers are able to integrate the engineering, computer, social and behavioral science perspectives will be critical.”

These studies into interdependency go hand-in-hand with the general pursuit of smarter cities using technology like the Internet of Things, something Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering, said will be key to the overall RIPS program.

“Conceptualizing multiple infrastructures as cyber-physical interdependent systems and processes—as opposed to discrete components of bridges, rails, power plants and so forth—offers an exciting new paradigm for exploration that will lead to very important new knowledge for the design of resilient infrastructures,” Khargonekar said. “We look forward to the creation of a multidisciplinary new research community that can revolutionize the infrastructures of the future.”

In all, 16 universities and more than 50 researchers will investigate the issues of infrastructure resiliency across disciplines.

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Intel’s Carlos Contreras discusses the importance of STEM http://fedscoop.com/intels-carlos-contreras-discusses-importance-stem/ http://fedscoop.com/intels-carlos-contreras-discusses-importance-stem/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:27:58 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63582 Carlos Contreras, director of education with Intel, talks with FedScoop TV about importance of STEM education and the challenges the U.S. faces in promoting it.

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Carlos Contreras, director of education with Intel, talks with FedScoop TV about importance of STEM education and the challenges the U.S. faces in promoting it.

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Reverse auctioneer FedBid slammed by VA inspector general http://fedscoop.com/reverse-auctioneer-fedbid-censured-va-inspector-general-report/ http://fedscoop.com/reverse-auctioneer-fedbid-censured-va-inspector-general-report/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:18:33 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63568 It started out as an investigation into one procurement officer's interference with a contract review. But before it was over it involved an attempted character "assassination" and "significant measures to disrupt and deprive" the Department of Veterans Affairs' ability "to transact official business honestly and impartially, free from improper and undue influence."

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FedBid website

Executives at a popular federal reverse auction contractor have come under fire for taking “significant measures to disrupt and deprive” the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability “to transact official business honestly and impartially, free from improper and undue influence.” The company and its executives could now face potential suspension or debarment from federal contracting.

In a damning 82-page report released Monday, the VA’s inspector general detailed an orchestrated campaign by FedBid executives to “assassinate” the character of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics Jan Frye after he suspended the use of reverse auctions throughout the agency in 2012.  Investigators also found that Susan Taylor, VA’s deputy chief procurement officer at the Veterans Health Administration, abused her position and “improperly acted as an agent of FedBid in matters before the government.”

What started as an investigation into Taylor’s alleged interference with a review of the FedBid contract soon led the IG to discover Taylor had been giving FedBid preferential treatment, going so far as to disclose proprietary information and pressure contracting staff to award a task order for reverse auction services to FedBid. Although the IG referred the matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, DOJ did not press charges and recommended VA take administrative actions.

But now the focus has turned to Vienna, Virginia-based FedBid Inc. and an email trail that implicates the company’s senior executives as well as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, who sits on FedBid’s board of directors, and former AOL CEO and FedBid investor Steve Case in an attempt to convince VA officials at the highest levels to intervene and remove Frye’s moratorium.

“The intent of the FedBid executives was to ‘storm the castle,’ use a ‘heavy-handed-puncher,’ to ‘rally the troops up on the Hill,’ have ‘enough top cover to overwhelm,’ to ‘unleash the hounds,’ to ‘assassinate [Mr. Frye’s] character and discredit him,’ and to keep ‘close hold’ nonpublic information Ms. Taylor provided FedBid executives,” the IG report states. “Thus, began a concerted effort by all parties to willfully deprive, obstruct, and discredit Mr. Frye and unduly influence VA decision-makers, to include the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and the Chief of Staff, to lift the moratorium.”

To do that, the IG investigation found that the company turned to Steve Case and Gen. Casey to use their access and influence with former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and former VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich to exert pressure on Frye to lift the moratorium. The strategy worked. According to the IG’s investigation, Taylor informed FedBid executives on April 3, 2012, that the company was back in business at the VA. The news led to an immediate congratulatory email from FedBid CEO Ali Saadat to Steve Case, Gen. Casey and others on the company’s executive team.

In his email, Saadat gave special thanks to “Steve Case who started our first punch on Sunday March 4th a day after D-Day … General Casey who played his role as the heavy handed puncher when we needed … Our fantastic Advisors, Steve Kelman and David Wyld, who wrote very timely and persuasive [news] articles in support of FedBid.” Kelman is a former OFPP administrator who is a regular columnist for Federal Computer Week and Wyld is a former president of FedBid.

A FedBid spokesperson said the company “has cooperated fully” with the IG investigation. “We believe FedBid took appropriate actions to protect its ability to lawfully perform the business services it was contracted to provide with VHA. Additionally, our company has always been transparent about its fee structure and the savings the FedBid marketplace can facilitate when buying commodity goods and simple services. It is important to point out as our data demonstrates that this report does not dispute that the FedBid marketplace stimulated competition that resulted in lower prices for VHA,” the spokesperson said.

Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners in Arlington, said the nature of the case and the alleged wrongdoing detailed in the IG report means FedBid or individual executives will likely be referred to the Debarment and Suspension Committee at the VA. “Somebody has to walk the plank,” Allen said. Depending on what corrective actions the company has taken, the VA could place either individual company executives or the entire firm on the suspended list, he said. “Under normal circumstances you would expect to find the company on the suspended list.”

But FedBid presents anything but a normal set of circumstances, according to Allen. “This is a well-connected company, and that does give me pause,” he said, referring to FedBid’s executive leadership team, which includes a former administrator of federal procurement policy. Although the political connections shouldn’t matter in this case, Allen said the reality may be quite different. And that could allow other abuses to go unnoticed. “The chances of it being limited to the VA are pretty slim,” he said.

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OMB ignores GAO’s software licensing recommendations http://fedscoop.com/omb-ignores-gaos-software-licensing-recommendations/ http://fedscoop.com/omb-ignores-gaos-software-licensing-recommendations/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:35:14 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63536 Following a report released by the Government Accountability Office in May that said federal agencies need better software licensing management, a new GAO report released last week found that all but three heeded the suggestions.

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omb-logo1Following a report released by the Government Accountability Office in May that said federal agencies need better software licensing management, a new GAO report released last week found that all but three heeded the suggestions.

According to the report, 21 of the 24 agencies observed acted on the suggestions and established action plans to address them, up from just two that had comprehensive policies for software license management when the first report was released.

In May, the Office of Management and Budget, along with many other agencies, did not have substantial policies in place to manage its software licenses. Without more explicit policies and mandates on software licenses, GAO said it would be difficult for OMB to effectively manage them. But the new report said OMB has no plans in the works to address GAO’s May suggestions.

Carol Cha, director of information technology acquisition management issues at GAO, said that according to OMB, this management is not a priority.

“What we would like to see from OMB is to provide and give attention to this area that is desperately needed,” Cha told FedScoop.

Cha also said OMB disagreed with GAO, arguing OMB already has “sufficient enough policies to guide agencies in developing these comprehensive management polices.”

During fiscal year 2014, the federal government planned to spend $82 billion on information technology, such as software licenses. The new GAO report said effective management of these licenses would aid in the avoidance of unnecessary spending and licensing issues.

In all, 135 recommendations were made to the agencies for improving their management of the software. Eleven of the agencies completely agreed with GAO’s recommendations, five partially agreed, two neither agreed nor disagreed, and six had no comments. OMB was the only agency to disagree completely with the GAO’s advice.

One of the compliant agencies, the Education Department, has already acted on the findings of the GAO. The department’s chief information officer has initiated a “department-wide directive that establishes guidelines for software acquisition and management, and places central control for software license management within the office of the CIO,” the report said.

The National Science Foundation also has plans to develop policies regarding software management, create an inventory of all licenses being used by the agency, identify all license data for cost reduction opportunities and provide training on management by October 2015.

However, Cha said OMB has the power to set the precedent for all the other agencies as leader in shaping IT policy for federal agencies.

“Until OMB actually issues a directive that specifies in very clear terms that there is a comprehensive set of practices that should be followed, agencies will not make it a priority,” Cha said.

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Critical vulnerabilities discovered in VA business portal http://fedscoop.com/critical-vulnerabilities-discovered-vas-business-portal/ http://fedscoop.com/critical-vulnerabilities-discovered-vas-business-portal/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:29:28 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63530 The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working to fix multiple critical security vulnerabilities in one of its major public-facing Web portals that links to a massive database containing personal and financial information on millions of veteran business owners.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working to fix multiple critical security vulnerabilities in one of its major public-facing Web portals that links to a massive database containing personal and financial information on millions of veteran business owners, FedScoop has learned.

A screen shot of the Vendor Information Pages searchable database.

A screen shot of the Vendor Information Pages searchable database.

The VA announced late Thursday it intends to extend its maintenance and support contract with Herndon, Virginia-based Valador Inc. so the company can conduct “critical security vulnerability repair” on the Vendor Information Pages database — the central repository used by VA to track all businesses that have been verified as veteran-owned or veteran-controlled. Those businesses listed in the VIP database, which is accessible through the VetBiz.gov Web portal, are eligible for contracts specifically set-aside for small businesses owned by veterans and disabled veterans.

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, which runs VetBiz.gov, had threatened to decommission the site as early as Sept. 27 if the security vulnerabilities were not fixed.

Although it is scheduled to be replaced by the Veterans Enterprise Management System, known as VEMS, delays with the modernization effort have forced VA to continue to use the legacy VIP system. As a result, VIP has been operating under a Temporary Authority to Operate, which expires Sept. 27. The TATO had been issued to allow VA and Valador time to fix the security vulnerabilities, which placed sensitive personal identity information at risk.

In a highly-redacted document posted Sept. 25 that outlined its justification for not requiring a full and open contract competition for the maintenance contract, VA said the award was necessary “to avoid a system shut-down,” which would prevent new veteran-owned businesses from becoming verified and freeze all pending applications.

“If security issues are not addressed by Sept. 27, 2014, the VetBiz system will have to be de-commissioned and all services will stop,” the VA justification document states.

A senior VA official, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to comment publicly, told FedScoop “this is a panicked reaction from a system owner who realizes VA is very serious about information protection.”

The VA said in a statement to FedScoop that the agency does not plan to pull the system offline. “IT systems have vulnerabilities, and prudent management of IT systems allows for risk-based decisions to account for system vulnerabilities.  In this particular case, the system was given an ATO with conditions based on the risks presented,” the VA statement said. “As a normal part of VA’s continuous monitoring of its systems, VA authorizes systems and applications to run on its network under an Authority to Operate (ATO). The VetBiz Vendor Information Pages website is currently operating under a conditional ATO while the full ATO is being reviewed for compliance and proper documentation.”

There are approximately 5 million veteran-owned businesses and 500,000 disabled veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. The size and complexity of the VIP system have increased significantly during the past three years. According to VA, the database contained approximately 1 gigabyte of information in 2011, but today it holds more than 1.5 terabytes. Veteran business owners use login names and passwords to access the system, but they are then required to enter a wealth of sensitive information that is used to verify their status, including tax returns, company operating agreements, resumes, bank signature cards, cancelled checks, payroll summary reports, shareholder agreements, lease agreements and copies of their last five contracts or proposals.

The VA awarded the first VetBiz contract to Valador in 2002. Since 2011, the company has received nearly $276,000 in maintenance fees for VetBiz.

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CDC tries to disrupt public health education with video games http://fedscoop.com/cdc-tries-disrupt-public-health-eduction-video-games/ http://fedscoop.com/cdc-tries-disrupt-public-health-eduction-video-games/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:01:43 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63528 Video games and public health education don't typically go hand-in-hand, but a disruptive Centers for Disease Control and Prevention event is merging the two worlds this weekend to continue fighting what it calls a winnable battle against HIV and AIDS.

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Dan Baden (Center) with HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr (left) and HHS CTO Bryan Sivak (right) after the 2013 CDC Game Jam. (Credit: HHS)

Dan Baden (Center) with HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr (left) and HHS CTO Bryan Sivak (right) after the 2013 CDC Game Jam. (Credit: HHS)

Video games and public health education don’t typically go hand-in-hand, but a disruptive Centers for Disease Control and Prevention event is merging the two worlds this weekend to continue fighting what it calls a winnable battle against HIV and AIDS.

CDC Game Jam launched last year out of the Department of Health and Human Services’ IDEA Lab innovation incubator called HHS Ignite, which provided the hackathon-like event various services, legal advice, coaching, tools and technologies, to become a sustainable venture. Dan Baden, a senior liaison with CDC and the lead on the game jam project, said he and some colleagues had been mulling over the idea of launching the event, but HHS Ignite was the catalyst.

“When we saw Ignite, we said ‘Hey, this is a perfect opportunity,’” Baden said. “We hadn’t really pursued the idea much.”

“Ignite exists as a safe space where people can try out very new ideas that for one reason or another haven’t happened yet,” said Read Holman, a program manager in HHS’ IDEA Lab who oversees the Ignite participants. “We help them think about how does this really become operationalized? They’ve taken this idea that is outside of the general environment, outside the standard way of thinking [and help them] get it into government operations.”

Game Jam game

Egg Defender, a game developed in the 2013 CDC Game Jam. (Credit: SPSU Game Development an Design)

The team came up with two broad goals: to get people with 21st century skills interested in public health and find fast and inexpensive ways of making new, more-effective health education tools. They found a working model in a video-game designing hackathon. HHS Ignite bought into the idea and funded it.

“We were trying to bring together several hundred game designers — both student and professional — and merge them with scientists at CDC and at other HHS agencies,” Baden said. Participants formed teams of designers and scientists to make health-related games. Last year 300 people made 29 games in 48 hours focusing on what CDC calls “winnable battles,” those for which health education can make progress in diminishing or curing. At the time, it was not only the first game jam in federal government, but also the largest in the United States.

In the first year, Baden and his team succeeded in validating the program’s two main goals. “We queried people beforehand and only 12 percent had any interest in public health [careers] before the Game Jam,” Baden said. “Forty-eight hours later, 50 percent had interest in public health careers. So it’s got huge potential as a recruitment tool,” not to mention the 29 games created.

Since then, another game jam has beaten CDC’s in size. But this weekend in Atlanta, Baden expects it to once again be the biggest in the country as participants set out to build games around the issues of HIV and AIDS. And this time, Baden said they have another goal in mind.

“We don’t know if the games that are made through this vehicle are any good,” he said. “So we need to evaluate the impact of a game developed in this manner. We’re actually going to get people in the public to play [the winning] game versus playing a non-educational game and see at one or two months whether or not they have a better understanding of HIV and if they have a desire to change any of their behaviors.” Holman referred to it as a “clinical trial” of sorts.

Through several stages, participating teams will be narrowed to a group of five with a chance to split a $20,000 pot if they each can fulfill design requirements set forth by CDC. One of those five will be randomly selected for the CDC test, but if all complete the challenges, Baden said “they will be joint winners.”

In the end, CDC Game Jam teams will keep their intellectual property, get a chance at some cash, gain the mentorship of CDC scientists in their development and potentially walk away with the chance to say they had their game vetted by the CDC in a trial.

While the CDC Game Jam is a chance to further public health education with video games, long thought to be highly influential due to their immersive nature, Holman said it’s also a way to disrupt the old guard, bureaucratic process of government procurement and operation.

“There’s a larger world of crowdsourcing and open innovation” going on outside of government, he said. “The CDC Game Jam is not only interesting in the gameification of health care and education and public health interventions, but it’s also an innovation in the way to go about developing those games and leveraging the power of the crowd.”

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FAA preps NextGen summit, but questions remain about drones http://fedscoop.com/nextgen-faa-hold-summit-preparing-2020-multi-billion-dollar-system-neglects-drones/ http://fedscoop.com/nextgen-faa-hold-summit-preparing-2020-multi-billion-dollar-system-neglects-drones/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 20:43:07 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63531 Until recently, the FAA has been subject to criticism for not involving industry enough in the rollout and planning for NextGen. The “Call to Action” summit, scheduled for October 28, however, is designed to reverse that trend and garner broader industry support to meet the 2020 deadline to equip aircraft with new avionics technology.

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Air Traffic control tower

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to hold a “Call to Action” summit next month to improve cooperation with the aviation industry in support of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, better known as NextGen.

Until recently, the FAA has been subject to criticism for not involving industry enough in the rollout and planning of NextGen. The “Call to Action” summit, scheduled for Oct. 28, however, is designed to reverse that trend and garner broader industry support to meet the 2020 deadline to equip aircraft with new avionics technology.

According to a release from the agency, the summit will be an all-day event during which the FAA and industry will figure out how they can work together to address some of the possible challenges in equipping several thousand aircraft with the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast technology – just one part of the agency’s NextGen process.

The ADS-B technology will “revolutionize the national airspace system,” according to the release. The main purpose of the surveillance technology will be to move from a ground-based radar system to one based on satellites and GPS technology.

The move will increase safety and efficiency by providing a more accurate and consistent view of an airplane’s location rather than the more than five second delay that comes with using traditional radar technology. The “out” portion of the ADS-B system pings an aircraft’s flight position to controllers on the ground and to other pilots who also have aircraft equipped with the technology.

Through the use of ADS-B, air traffic controllers could allow for more efficient use of airspace and better spacing between flights taking off and landing.

In 2010, the agency released its final ruling on the technology, which reportedly included input from industry. The rule requires all aircraft in controlled airspace to at least be equipped with ADS-B Out by the end of the decade.

According to the release from the FAA, the agency recently completed the construction and deployment of more than 630 radio stations on the ground – the baseline for the ADS-B ground infrastructure. If an aircraft is already equipped with ADS-B technology, it can take advantage of the network today. In the Gulf of Mexico, the FAA teamed up with oil and natural gas companies to install ground stations on floating oil platforms.

The technology was first deployed in Alaska to cover areas with no radar coverage in the southwestern part of the state. Since then, the agency has equipped more than 300 aircraft with the ADS-B systems. After the system was put in place, fatal accidents dropped by 47 percent.

The system is still used in Alaska and has also been established in the Gulf of Mexico to decrease the likelihood of mid-air collisions and to improve the success of search and rescue missions. In some cases, due to severe weather, the standard flight path between Florida and California is obstructed, causing planes to fly inland around the storm. Now with ADS-B, the planes can calculate a new, more efficient route over the Gulf while avoiding the storm.

“It is time for all users of the national airspace – avionics suppliers, aircraft integrators, operators and installers – to work together to ensure that all aircraft flying in controlled airspace are equipped with these NextGen avionics,” FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement. “The full benefits of increased safety and efficiency of the national airspace depend on 100 percent equipage.”

The agency’s “Call to Action” Summit will address strategies to encourage the establishment of ADS-B technology on aircraft nationwide in order to meet the 2020 deadline.

 

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Vmware’s Mike Wilkersen talks about challenges in STEM http://fedscoop.com/vmwares-mike-wilkersen-talks-challenges-stem/ http://fedscoop.com/vmwares-mike-wilkersen-talks-challenges-stem/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 20:33:45 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63589 Mike Wilkersen, senior director of solutions engineering for the public sector at Vmware, chats with FedScoop TV about recruiting a STEM-educated workforce and how the U.S. can encourage students to pursue a career in STEM.

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Mike Wilkersen, senior director of solutions engineering for the public sector at Vmware, chats with FedScoop TV about recruiting a STEM-educated workforce and how the U.S. can encourage students to pursue a career in STEM.

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