FedScoop » News http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 NSF wants to develop regional big data hubs http://fedscoop.com/nsf-big-data/ http://fedscoop.com/nsf-big-data/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:00:42 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63063 The National Science Foundation is planning to develop a national network of big data regional innovation hubs.

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Image: iStockphoto

The National Science Foundation is planning to develop a national network of big data regional innovation hubs.

Last week, NSF released a notice in the Federal Register requesting input from academia, industry, state and local government and all throughout the big data ecosystem in its investigation into forming the regional hubs. The agency believes these hubs could help accelerate the Big Data Research and Development Initiative introduced by President Obama in 2012.

“These Hubs will help to continue and scale up the kinds of activities and partnerships established by National Big Data R&D Initiative over the past 3 years as well as stimulate, track, and help sustain new regional and grassroots partnerships around Big Data,” the notice said.

Specifically, the hubs will fill roles like bringing stakeholders together to accelerate big data innovation; matching community, government, industry and academia for pilot programs; coordinating and encouraging dialogue among the hubs; increasing the sharing of technology; engaging thought leaders in the big data community; and educating and training the big data workforce.

After witnessing the successful collaboration surrounding big data at last November’s White House-sponsored Data to Knowledge to Action, NSF hopes these theoretical hubs will continue driving the same momentum and excitement behind big data.

NSF did not comment by publication.

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Field of Dreams: Data.gov’s half-decade transition http://fedscoop.com/field-dreams-data-govs-half-decade-transition/ http://fedscoop.com/field-dreams-data-govs-half-decade-transition/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:24:27 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63074 When Data.gov was established in 2009, it was considered an experiment in open government. Now, with more than half a million unique data resources on the website, it’s transitioned into a proactive resource for data enthusiasts, public and private alike. “We work hard to push as much data up and out and to try to be as responsive and proactively go out and work with communities around the country and around the world,” Jeanne Holm, Data.gov’s evangelist, told FedScoop. “[Over time] we just worked really hard to take it as far as we could.” Holm, who also works as the…

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Data.gov as it looks today.

Data.gov as it looks today.

When Data.gov was established in 2009, it was considered an experiment in open government. Now, with more than half a million unique data resources on the website, it’s transitioned into a proactive resource for data enthusiasts, public and private alike.

“We work hard to push as much data up and out and to try to be as responsive and proactively go out and work with communities around the country and around the world,” Jeanne Holm, Data.gov’s evangelist, told FedScoop. “[Over time] we just worked really hard to take it as far as we could.”

Jeanne Holm, evangelist for data.gov  Contributed Photo

Jeanne Holm, evangelist for data.gov
Contributed Photo

Holm, who also works as the chief knowledge architect at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been on board with the Data.gov project since 2009, when newly-appointed federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra started the initiative.

Since its inception as a transparency initiative, the site has developed into an information repository and resource. Each day, the Data.gov team, which consists of four people and is based out of the General Services Administration, pulls data from agencies, universities and other research entities who have made their data available for federation, Holm said.

“I can’t tell you in any given day how many data sets there are because it’s truly dynamic and we bring in city, county and state data when it’s made available to us as well,” Holm said. “We obviously don’t tell cities and states how to spend their money, but if they have open data sites, we can reach out to them and ask them if they want to be federated.”

Somewhere along the way, the team of data enthusiasts who work on the site realized it was about more than transparency — it was part of a bigger ecosystem.

“The Field of Dreams doesn’t really work,” Holm said. “If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. So, you have to plow the fields and build the roads to it and make sure there are big neon signs that say ‘Field of Dreams right here.’”

And bringing people to the Field of Dreams is Holm’s job, she said. The data evangelist does more than just make sure agencies know how to publish data and why it’s important to publish data; it also works with several different points of contact within the 135 agencies who contribute data to the website.

Additionally, Holm works with the Small Business Administration to encourage entrepreneurs to take advantage of the vast resource of data for what could be the next great business.

Users can search by category on data.gov to get cross-agency data sets and in case the user does not know which agency to search for for a particular piece of data.

Users can search by category on data.gov to get cross-agency data sets and in case the user does not know which agency to search for for a particular piece of data.

“Through ongoing interactions, we have communities of practice behind each of the topical areas on the website,” Holm said. “We have people inside and outside the government that help us to contact and connect with and collaborate with lots of people from across the country working in many different sectors to figure out what different people need.”

Holm, through one of the newest data sets available on the website, also tries to bring attention to the more than 700 facilities available across the government for any U.S.-based manufacturers to use as a test facility for a product.

“Anything from a wind tunnel to a lab bench, so that people in the local community who say ‘Oh, I have a business. I wish I had the ability to test something, but that test chamber costs more than my entire business,’” Holm said. “Anything you do suddenly makes you able to innovate and try some out of the box things that you would never have been able to afford as an individual.”

In May 2013, the website became fully open source, just a year after the site’s source code was posted on GitHub. According to Holm, the move to open source came alongside a collaboration with the governments of India, Canada and Ghana to look at how coding together can allow each country’s open data initiatives to operate with fewer resources.

“Together we share code, we meet every month and we co-develop the back end of our data portal,” Holm said. “It’s been really great looking at that whole aspect of international collaboration that helps with government efficiencies. We have a better portal because we don’t have to develop it ourselves.”

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Why the FBI will never be an early tech adopter http://fedscoop.com/fbi-cloud-jeremy-wiltz/ http://fedscoop.com/fbi-cloud-jeremy-wiltz/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:15:07 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63073 For Jeremy Wiltz moving to the cloud has been all about trust. But the the deputy assistant director for the FBI's Information Services branch acknowledges the bureau will never be in the position where it can deploy the latest technologies and worry about working out the kinks later.

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FBI headquarters, Washington, D.C.

FBI headquarters, Washington, D.C.

For Jeremy Wiltz, the deputy assistant director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Information Services branch, moving to the cloud has been all about trust.

Wiltz has to approach the trust factor from a number of different angles. How can he convince people to let go of their hardware? How can he expect vendors to adopt the FBI’s security standards? How can he better leverage mobility for his own office, as well as the 18,000 state and local police departments that use his services?

Wiltz covered all of the angles during a cloud computing conference Wednesday, where he spoke about moving the FBI from its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) to its advanced Next Generation Identification (NGI) program.

Wiltz said even with the cloud bringing technical and cost-savings efficiencies, he still has trouble prying legacy data centers away from his staff.

“On the technology front, people still do not want to move to virtual platforms,” Wiltz said. “I don’t know if it is that they don’t trust them, they are afraid they won’t have hands on, they want to actually go into the data center and see hardware that we own, but people want to have these stacks.”

Even though Wiltz said the FBI still hasn’t “moved a lot from our legacy quite yet,” he is constantly butting heads with the IT staff over what is and isn’t needed for the future.

“We haven’t been able to get all of our system owners and IT development teams to move into the virtual platforms,” he said. “They still start out proposals to us saying ‘We are going to have to buy all of this hardware and racks’ and we’re like ‘No, you’re not.’”

It’s part of what Wiltz called “a people paradigm shift,” where he believes that people in the government IT space — system integrators, procurement officials and industry — need to change the way they are doing business in order to embrace rapidly evolving technology.

“I can’t say enough about information security groups in organizations,” Wiltz said. “They really need to get up to speed on emerging technologies and how to secure them. When we have conversations, we talk past each other because they are not quite up to speed on things.”

Wiltz also made a point to say the FBI will never be an early adopter of new technology because of its mission. He used the migration of IAFIS to NGI as an example of how the FBI can rarely afford to implement systems and work out the kinks in phases.

“In moving over from IAFIS to NGI, we really can’t stop our business,” he said. “The officer on the street has to keep doing checks on people that they are pulling over and arresting. It’s a challenge for us to be in 24/7 production and migrate to something else.”

In order for the FBI to move forward, Wiltz would like some help from industry, which he believes doesn’t go far enough in helping government adopt new technology.

“We have got to get into better think tank partnerships with industry,” he said. “Through no fault of our own, we lag in our thinking, we lag in our ability to see what’s coming, a lot of the times we’re not privy to seeing what’s developed because its proprietary to the company.”

But Wiltz also understands any business with a cloud computing company is going to have a caveat on both sides of the agreement. He said the FBI makes a concerted effort to examine how its business deals look to the general public and understands that companies may not be willing to bend to all of the bureau’s technical demands.

“We always worry about the public’s optics with us,” he said. “If we hosted everything with Amazon or Microsoft or Google, and at some point later we put them under investigation, how would it look to the public if our data was sitting on their equipment? Could you trust that they hadn’t done anything with our data to protect themselves from ensuing criminal proceedings?”

Yet for all of the issues Wiltz has been wrestling with, he understands how things are moving and the advantages of what cloud gives to his customers.

“On the business side, we are seeing some efficiencies,” he said. “They don’t care how it looks on the back end, they care how it’s served to them.”

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Intelligence community cloud may require new procurement models http://fedscoop.com/intelligence-community-cloud-may-require-new-procurement-models/ http://fedscoop.com/intelligence-community-cloud-may-require-new-procurement-models/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 20:51:41 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63071 The effort to move the 17 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community away from stovepiped IT systems and toward a cloud-based shared services environment is well under way. But a new study by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance suggests the private sector may find it difficult to fully support the effort without fundamental changes to the contracting and procurement processes intelligence agencies use to buy applications and infrastructure.

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IC ITE Industry Perspectives

The effort to move the 17 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community away from stovepiped IT systems and toward a cloud-based shared services environment is well under way. But a new study by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance suggests the private sector may find it difficult to fully support the effort without fundamental changes to the contracting and procurement processes intelligence agencies use to buy applications and infrastructure.

The movement toward the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, known as IC ITE (pronounced eyesight), has made steady progress since Director of National Intelligence James Clapper first approved it in 2012. It is the most far-reaching IT reorganization in the intelligence community’s history, seeking to move hundreds of thousands of users to a common digital platform while gradually reducing the amount the community spends on technology as well as the number of contractors needed for support. The effort has received almost universal praise from intelligence community veterans, but for the first time industry has raised serious questions about the government’s funding strategy and the potential impact that strategy could have on the national security industrial base.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Photo: INSA)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Photo: INSA)

“A sustainable cost recovery model, optimized budget, new contract and procurement processes, and predictable revenue streams are issues that all need to be resolved,” states the INSA white paper, “IC ITE: Industry Perspectives,” released Sept. 11. “Achieving success requires clear and candid discussions with the industrial base regarding the impact IC ITE will have on the way software applications, mission capability and infrastructure will be funded, acquired, and integrated.”

Among the key areas of concern highlighted by the INSA white paper is the government’s shift to a platform-as-a-service model that is separate from software development. The shift would remove IT infrastructure revenue from industry’s application development contracts; help agencies avoid monolithic software applications and focus on modular development capable of combining and customizing capabilities from smaller, reusable services; and transition to “pay for use” software pricing, rather than a per-seat licensing approach.

“These trends impact industry’s revenue mix, overhead structure, and the way companies capitalize infrastructure,” the white paper states. “When the government formalizes an acquisition strategy that separates IaaS/PaaS programs from software development programs, industry will need to choose where in the stack they compete and will adapt to the revenue shift accordingly. New monetization strategies will need to be created.”

The Director of National Intelligence is spearheading  a new shared services IT architecture known as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) initiative. (Source: ODNI)

The Director of National Intelligence is spearheading a new shared services IT architecture known as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) initiative. (Source: ODNI)

The INSA white paper also highlights the uncertainty surrounding the “Apps Mall” component of the intelligence community cloud. “A major point of confusion across the IC, by both government and industry partners, is in how applications in an ‘Apps Store’ would be priced. Pricing options for application development in an Apps Mall (PaaS) procurement environment, including industry revenue and profit models, intellectual property (IP) rights, and licensing strategies need to be addressed,” the white paper states. “Options include charging by user per year, charging per click of the application, and charging a base charge for the amount of time spent on the application with overages charged at a different rate.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged in an email to FedScoop that “flexibility” will be necessary in the way contracts are awarded but said the final contracting methods will depend on the specific acquisition requirement.

“For example the common IC desktop environment (DTE) and its supporting applications, which are acquired and managed on behalf of the IC by DIA and NGA, uses a centralized contracting model alleviating the burden for each agency to develop and manage independent agreements,” the spokesperson said.

“We have also selected agencies that already have excellent relationships with vendors to serve as the IC’s agent for acquiring services. Whether the government owns or rents, pays based on number of users, unlimited usage, cost per use, or some other model is dependent on the government’s needs and what the vendors propose,” the ODNI spokesperson said . “Our desire is to move away from separate agreements for each agency to a more centralized approach to help us maintain software currency and  improve configuration management of our DTE.”

The ODNI spokesperson pointed to the $600 million Commercial Cloud Service (C2S) contract awarded recently to Amazon Web Services and is managed by the CIA. This is yet another acquisition model, the spokesperson said, “where the commercial partner (Amazon) implemented the cloud inside the IC with essentially the same capability they provide to their commercial clients. That is, a platform as a service and eventually a marketplace of services that are built upon the Amazon platform. C2S also introduces a fee-for-service model.”

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Citrix’s Jeremiah Cunningham on lowering government costs with IT http://fedscoop.com/citrixs-jeremiah-cunningham-lowering-government-costs/ http://fedscoop.com/citrixs-jeremiah-cunningham-lowering-government-costs/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:43:07 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63067 Jeremiah Cunningham, civilian sales director for the public sector at Citrix, talks with FedScoop TV about lowering government costs with IT.

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Jeremiah Cunningham, civilian sales director for the public sector at Citrix, talks with FedScoop TV about lowering government costs with IT.

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OPM to cut ties with security clearance contractor http://fedscoop.com/opm-cut-ties-security-clearance-contractor/ http://fedscoop.com/opm-cut-ties-security-clearance-contractor/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:50:23 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63058 The federal Office of Personnel Management plans to end the government's relationship with U.S. Investigations Services LLC, the security clearance contractor that suffered a major cyberattack last month leading to the compromise of personnel records belonging to more than 25,000 federal employees.

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The federal Office of Personnel Management plans to end the government’s relationship with U.S. Investigations Services LLC, the security clearance contractor that suffered a major cyberattack last month leading to the compromise of personnel records belonging to more than 25,000 federal employees.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company—one of the largest providers of background investigations for the federal government—made the announcement Tuesday on its website.

“OPM is declining to exercise its remaining options on USIS’ Background Investigation Fieldwork and Background Investigation Support Services contracts that expire on September 30, 2014,” the company said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed with OPM’s decision, particularly given the excellent work our 3,000 employees have delivered on these contracts. While we disagree with the decision and are reviewing it, we intend to fulfill our obligations to ensure an orderly transition. The Company continues to provide high quality service to its many other valued government customers.”

The company claimed the early August cyberattack had “all the markings of a state-sponsored attack.” The Department of Homeland Security and OPM immediately issued stop work orders while federal authorities, including the FBI, investigated the intrusion.

Founded in 1996, the company was born out of the privatization of OPM’s investigative branch. As a result of that privatization effort, OPM awarded the company a contract to provide background investigation services for 95 federal agencies. Today, the company supports 100 agencies, according to its website. The company claims to have performed more than 2 million background investigations since 2011 and employs 2,300 field investigators across the country.

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DARPA wants help closing nanotechnology’s ‘assembly gap’ http://fedscoop.com/darpa-atoms-to-product/ http://fedscoop.com/darpa-atoms-to-product/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:01:29 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63040 DARPA wants to be able to take things built at a really, really small level and scale them for production in really big systems.

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DARPA

DARPA’s Atoms to Product project looks to integrate nanotechnology into subsystems that will be used in bigger military products.

The Pentagon’s advanced research agency wants to do something that currently cannot be done: Take things built at a really, really small level and scale them for production in really big systems.

Solving that problem will be the task of those behind the Atoms To Product (A2P) project at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Defense Sciences Office. DARPA is soliciting proposals for how researchers can further advance and leverage nanotechnology.

Stephanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Sciences Office, said the project fits into two of the office’s main focal points: finding ways to adapt to a growing market of globally available technology and incorporating it into military systems. Currently, technology is moving too fast and the adoption costs are unsustainable for military systems. DARPA hopes the A2P project will provide a cheaper way to integrate new technology on a variety of scales.

“Ultimately, what better way to better deal with complexity if we can actually both predict and control what we are making,” Tompkins said in a webinar released Thursday. “Then we don’t have to worry about non-linear actions and unpredictable effects and uncertainty when we are building the final systems.”

In order to create those systems, DARPA will look to close the “assembly gap,” which would allow nanotechnology to work its way up the scale chain in order to be used in bigger products.

As John Main, a DARPA project manager, explained Thursday, the assembly gap currently exists between manufacturing at an atomic level and a millimeter-level of production.

DARPA

A PowerPoint slide explains the assembly gap DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office looks to overcome in the Atoms to Product project. (Slide courtesy of DARPA)

“If we turn to man-made systems, we find there are a variety of devices and useful features at nano- or micro-scales, but assembly starts on the other side of the gap, at millimeter scale,” Main said.
“Think about vehicles that are fabricated — typically assembly begins with millimeter size, these are assembled into subsystems like displays and transmissions and then we see these go into things like trucks or airplanes.”

A2P will focus on two technical links in the scaling hierarchy: moving atomic-level tech into the micron or molecule level, then moving the micron level into the millimeter level. The atoms-to-micron level will produce what’s known as feedstock — raw materials used in product manufacturing — with that material eventually allowing scientists to move it into millimeter-sized components.

“Once we get to the millimeter scale, we can do almost anything with it using conventional manufacturing methods,” Main said.

DARPA

A PowerPoint slide shows the two technical areas DARPA’s Atoms to Product project will concentrate on. (Slide courtesy of DARPA)

Tompkins said DSO can often take “even higher risks” and “push harder on fundamental technology and science discoveries” because their findings often lead to new offices or areas of research for the agency. For the office known as “DARPA’s DARPA,” A2P may be that next catalyst.

“We also are thinking constantly about bubbling technology opportunities,” Tompkins said. “We ask our program managers to look out across the research frontier and tell us really what is just there on the edge of being ready to create either a new discipline or a new capability or a new technology. Among the technology opportunities that were out there were ones that John [Main] and his colleagues came up with that made it clear that the time was right for Atoms to Product project.”

Even with DSO being at the forefront of this technology, it still needs help finding a solution.

“We have a lot of questions about these opportunities,” Tompkins said. “I’m sure we haven’t been able to capture anywhere near the full range of [opportunities]. I’m sure there are others just on the edge of the A2P premise or perhaps on the edge of other DSO challenges. We’d like to hear about them from you.”

You can find out more information about A2P on FedBizOpps.

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Dell’s Jeff Martin on using emerging technologies to lower government costs http://fedscoop.com/dells-jeff-martin-using-emerging-technologies-lower-government-costs/ http://fedscoop.com/dells-jeff-martin-using-emerging-technologies-lower-government-costs/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:18:33 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63047 Jeff Martin, federal vice president of strategy, architecture, M&A and infrastructure at Dell, discusses with FedScoop TV the ways federal agencies can leverage emerging technologies to lower their operating costs.

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Jeff Martin, federal vice president of strategy, architecture, M&A and infrastructure at Dell,  talks with FedScoop TV the ways federal agencies can leverage emerging technologies to lower their operating costs.

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Does the Internet of Things hold the key to post-9/11 emergency comms? http://fedscoop.com/dhs-pursues-post-911-first-responder-communication-system/ http://fedscoop.com/dhs-pursues-post-911-first-responder-communication-system/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 19:54:52 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63029 Thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there's been little progress made to improve communications for first responders during disasters. But a new project led by the Department of Homeland Security aims to leverage the Internet of Things to provide the life-saving communications capabilities our nation's heroes need.

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More than 300 emergency responders lost their lives responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Credit: Wikipedia)

More than 400 emergency responders, including 343 firefighters, lost their lives responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. (Credit: Wikipedia)

Anytime disaster strikes, emergency communications are of utmost importance, and that proved especially true on Sept. 11, 2001, when more than 343 firefighters lost their lives responding to the aftermath of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. And while little progress has been made in the last 13 years to improve communications for first responders, a new project led by the Department of Homeland Security with research by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hopes to leverage the Internet of Things to provide the life-saving communications capabilities our nation’s heroes need.

Earlier this summer, DHS introduced the Responder Technology Alliance, established by the First Responders Group within its Science and Technology Directorate.

“Essentially its purpose is to try to enable what we’re characterizing as the responder of the future, so that that responder is fully aware and able to sense both hazards and opportunities and is capable of responding to those in a manner that is safer than they are today,” said Steve Stein, director of PNNL and project lead for the lab. “It’s trying to envision that future and then developing solution sets that are essentially an integrated solution set that provides greater protection, greater awareness, better communication capabilities, particularly in those places where you’re not GPS enabled, and it enables them to do their jobs better.”

Under that larger program to advance the development of technologies critical to emergency response, PNNL recently submitted a request for information about a project called the Responders Integrated Communication System. Whereas emergency responders now have a collection of independent items like protective equipment and power systems with which they do their jobs, DHS and PNNL hope to bring those together in an interconnected environment.

Stein said they are looking for an “integrative piece, that integrative element.” What they found, he said, is that “communications is clearly the piece that is the integrative tissue.” The initial step is to give responders the ability to communicate more efficiently with their own devices. So, if a fireman had an oxygen tank, they could have a digital meter relaying the tanks levels.

After that, DHS and PNNL want the system “to be able to communicate back to a central command function, which may be a fire truck or a cruiser or a, if it’s a big event, a command location,” Stein said. “And so now we’re talking about systems that are Wi-Fi- and/or satellite-connected, or in other ways connected, to their vehicles that have the ability to boost a signal and send it even farther so that the responder now becomes not only somebody who is doing a job, but now is also becoming a sensor. You can envision this in grand terms as the Internet of Things.” Stein said they hope to leverage the work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s FirstNet to boost network operations during emergencies.

The RFI lists several mainstream technologies that the system must include, like voice activated two-way communication, Blue Force tracking, mobile use, noise canceling and so on.

While many federal agencies have tried to produce similar projects dependent on reaching deep into the pocket of taxpayers, the Responders Integrated Communication System is simply a vision with the rest left up to the private sector to run with.

“When we looked at all of this, our contention was that we didn’t need the money to actually build and enable this future. What we really needed to do was build a vision and build out the requirements for development so that everybody could understand what they are and, to the extent that we can get support for it, we get everybody to buy in,” Stein said. “Once that’s in place, industry can come forward and say, ‘We can build that piece, and we see the market and we see the ancillary markets. We really don’t want to pollute our intellectual property by taking federal money, so we’re going to build that component.’ And if we can get them in the door, we can understand what they’re gonna do, we can actually leverage the investments that they’re making, which means the federal government makes a smaller investment, industry makes a bigger investment, but industry actually captures the market and actually moves it to market more rapidly.”

That means instead of a traditional procurement, the contract winner will own the rights to the final product and be free do as it pleases. Essentially, DHS and PNNL are trying to build a successful set of specifications based around existing technology and on the expertise of first responders and then create a market around that.

“We’re looking to the private sector as the engine. We want to enable that engine, and to be brutally honest, we want to stay out of their way,” Stein said. “This isn’t a place where we need to invent. This is a place where industry is absolutely capable and they’re more capable of doing it than we are.”

DHS has the vision, PNNL has the technical knowledge and the private sector has the power to make it happen in a rapid manner, Stein said. In the next few weeks, DHS will release a request for proposal to procure and experiment with example solutions from the private sector to help them move forward with a model that is market-ready. The initial solicitation lists June 2015 as a deliverable date.

“The key in this to me is that this program is successful if it stimulates the private sector to create things the responder community needs in an integrated fashion,” Stein said. “If we can do that, this is a great success.”

DHS did not respond to requests for comment by publication.

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FAA allows use of drones in search for missing Texas woman http://fedscoop.com/faa-allows-use-drones-search-missing-texas-woman/ http://fedscoop.com/faa-allows-use-drones-search-missing-texas-woman/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 19:11:23 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=63032 Christina Marie Morris of Fort Worth, Texas was last seen in Plano, Texas, Aug. 30, and after more than 10 days of searching on foot, by car and on horseback, the search will take to the skies via drone.

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More than a week after a woman disappeared in northern Texas, authorities and people associated with the search have turned to the Federal Aviation Administration for help.

Source: iStock Photo

Source: iStock Photo

Christina Marie Morris of Fort Worth, Texas was last seen in Plano, Texas, Aug. 30, and after more than 10 days of searching on foot, by car and on horseback, the search will take to the skies via drone.

Through an emergency application filed by Texas Equusearch, a nonprofit, volunteer-based missing persons location organization, the FAA granted a temporary emergency certificate of authorization for an unmanned aircraft system to be used in attempt to locate Morris.

“The agency approves emergency COAs for natural disaster relief, search and rescue operations and other urgent circumstances,” the FAA said in a statement released Sept. 10. “In this case, the FAA granted the Emergency COA in less than 24 hours.”

Under the emergency COA, Texas Equusearch will be able to operate UAS as a part of the search from Sept. 11 until sunset on Sept. 15. The certificate was not actually issued to Texas Equusearch, according to a release from the FAA, but instead issued to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The issuance occurred at the request of the Plano Police Department, the release said.

The Associated Press reports that the FAA has had a tenuous relationshiup with Texas EquuSearch in the past – the agency issued a warning to the organization prohibiting it from using drones earlier this year, even though a federal appeals court said the warning garnered no legal ramifications.

According to Equusearch’s website, the organization has been involved in more than 1,300 searches in 42 states and half a dozen countries.

The emergency COA comes as the FAA gets closer to its 2015 congressionally-mandated deadline of integrating small UAS into the national airspace. Recently, to get closer to this reality, the FAA has granted COAs to a limited number of commercial entities, opened six test sites and started looking for a university-based center of excellence for UAS research.

Neither the FAA nor Equusearch could be reached for additional comment by publication.

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