When civilian agencies need help during a disaster, one of the places they can call is the Pentagon. When requested, the Pentagon dispatches the Defense Department’s Domestic Mobile Integrated Geospatial-Intelligence System (DMIGS), which is a 44-foot long vehicle shaped a bit like a fire truck. It carries generators and a 2.4-meter wide satellite dish antenna, so it is almost guaranteed to be able to stay in touch.
Inside, the truck has room for up to six analysts to work. They can update the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP), a common operational baseline of geospatial data, with the data coming in for people on-site. This information is then sent out to the mobile devices of emergency response teams so they can have a clearer picture of what challenges lie ahead of them.
The DMIGS was deployed in response to Superstorm Sandy, for example.
DOD is working on improvements so that first-responders are even more well-informed when they head out. Next in development is an app that will help map and catalog fallen trees. Optimally, on-site personnel would be able to know where a fallen tree is, and some of its characteristics, such as size. This info would help assign appropriate resources to remove the tree.
Posted by Greg Crowe on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:39 AM1 comments
The National Transportation Safety Board is the latest agency to drop BlackBerrys for another smart-phone platform, in this case the Apple iPhone. But government users might not want to shovel dirt on RIM just yet.
In a Notice of Intent issued recently, NTSB announced that it will issue a sole-source solicitation to Verizon Wireless to provide iPhone 5 devices. If the board goes through with this plan, then the 100 or so employees there will replace their current mobile devices with iPhones.
NTSB is following other agencies that have switched platforms, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Many pundits, as they have for some time, will identify these moves as some sort of death knell for Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry. Frankly, this sort of thing wouldn’t even be news if RIM hadn’t already dominated the government mobile workspace. In fact, announcements such as this are simply a sign that things are just now equalizing to a regular competitive marketplace.
True, things haven’t been great for RIM. But whether this continues and BlackBerry disappears from government remains to be seen. When the new BlackBerry 10 devices come out early next year, we will have a better idea. And I suspect that answer will be that BlackBerry will be just fine.
Posted by Greg Crowe on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:39 AM0 comments
Microsoft is helping users take advantage of the free wireless networking nodes that have sprung up over the past several years. The newest version of its smart phone, Windows Phone 8, will let its users know the locations of the nodes near them, which could be helpful for government mobile users.
Microsoft is using a database of free Wi-Fi sites maintained by Wi-Fi software vendor Devicescape that keeps track not only of the locations of these nodes, but also the level of connectivity users have experienced in each one. This will allow users not only to find the closest free wireless access points, but also the ones that are the most reliable.
In the United States, the service will at first be available only to Verizon Wireless subscribers, which is unfortunate for customers of other carriers. But at some point the exclusive deal will end, and the service will be available on all carriers.
Still, this service actually helps everyone. It helps the end users because it will give them the option of hopping on a nearby hot spot to save some monthly bandwidth. It will help the carrier, at first Verizon, since it could mean a lighter load on an already crowded network. And it makes Microsoft look good because it should be a good addition to the user experience.
Next, Verizon should credit the bills of unlimited-plan users who access Wi-Fi on a regular basis. That would definitely be an incentive for more users to sacrifice a little transfer speed.
Posted by Greg Crowe on Nov 14, 2012 at 9:39 AM0 comments