New York City police are piloting a somewhat novel use of Android smart phones, using them on the beat the same way they would use the laptop PCs in their cruisers.
NYPD has distributed about 400 Androids to officers as part of a program that started in 2012, the New York Times reports. Police with phones is nothing new, of course, but these phones can’t make or receive calls. Instead, they’re used to access databases of information on everything from criminal records, existing warrants, registered gun owners and motor vehicle records.
The Times, for example, went to a 14-story apartment building in a housing project with officers who were able to call up thousands of records related to residents in the building. Police told the Times that the Android apps gives them more complete information, and does it more quickly, than they get from radioing to a dispatcher, or even from the laptops in patrol cars, which can have spotty Internet connections.
New York is among the cities testing a variety of innovative technologies to help lower crimes rate. NYPD has developed what it calls the Dashboard, which pulls in data and imagery from about 3,000 surveillance cameras and other sensors, and combines them with data on 911 calls, arrests and other records to give police a clear operational picture. In early 2012, the city also was testing a long-range scanner technology that could “frisk” people on the street for concealed weapons.
On other fronts, police in the Bay Area around San Francisco have been testing phones that actually make calls, but with a software system that gives military-grade security to their communications. And during last year’s Republican National Convention, police in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., tested a first-of-its-kind LTE cellular network dedicated to law enforcement as part of security operations.
Posted on Apr 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM3 comments
How big is big data? One way to find out is to measure the speed of data over the network. On that score, researchers at the University of California at San Diego are getting set to handle some of the biggest data in the research community.
The university's Prism@UCSD project is designed to meet the demands of "data-intensive science" by building-out a high-performance network capable of supporting throughput that "might otherwise cripple the main campus network," UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in announcing the project.
UCSD researchers with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) are designing the network to support campus research teams working on genome mapping, climate change and some non-technical pursuits.
"The Prism network will enable rapid movement of big data for multiple, diverse disciplines across campus, including science, engineering, medicine and the arts," Khosla said. In starting Prism, the team identified big data users on campus who required at least 10 gigabit/sec capacity, which Calit2 is supplying through a next-generation modular switch that aggregates bandwidth across the university's various networks.
At the heart of the Prism network is an Arista Networks 7500 series switching platform, which carries 20 times the traffic of the university's current research network and 100 times of the bandwidth of the main campus networks, according to Prism@SDSD project leader Philip Papadopoulos. Combined capacity — including both Calit2 and the Prism networks — flowing across the switch would exceed 1 terabit/sec, or 1 trillion bits/sec, Papadopoulos said.
The network would be designed to support both real-world use, according to the university, as well as experimental applications being tested by researchers. The aim is to move the big data applications off the main campus network, which serves about 30,000 people.
“You can think of Prism as the HOV lane,” he said in the UCSD announcement, “whereas our very capable campus network represents the slower lanes on the freeway.”
By the time Prism is built out, he said, the 50 gigabits/sec link between Calit2 and the university's San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) would be expanded top 120 gigabits/sec, adding, "and it won't cost very much to get it to 160 [gigabits/sec]."
Posted on Apr 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM0 comments
Few commuters stuck in big city traffic haven’t thought about sending a note to city hall complaining about slow traffic lights, especially during rush hour. If only the city could tighten up traffic signal synchronization, that would speed things up. So most people would think, anyway.
Well now there is definitive proof. The city of Los Angeles finished work just last month on the Automatic Traffic Surveillance and Control system, a $400 million effort to computerize its entire traffic management system.
First started 30 years ago to help improve traffic around L.A. in preparation for the 1980 Olympic Games, the system today controls the synchronization of each one of the city’s 4,500 traffic lights that handle the flow of 7 million commuters each day.
Regulating the signals is done through magnetic sensors planted at every intersection, which in turn are connected to a control center in downtown L.A. The system analyzes both past traffic data flowing through the network as well as real-time data to automatically regulate the signals, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
But is the system improving commuting times for the average L.A. citizen? The best answer might be ... yes, somewhat. The average speed of traffic has moved from 15 miles per hour to 17.3 miles per hour on a citywide basis, according to the city’s transportation department. Delays at intersections are down 12 percent, according to the report, which described the difference as a “smoother kind of slow.”
Why hasn’t the system cut traffic congestion more dramatically? For one thing there are more people poring into the city on a daily basis, with the overall population increasing about 20 percent since 198o. Another factor is that improved traffic speed leads to more people traveling, University of Southern California civil engineering professor James Moore told the New York Times. The “benefit is not speed, it’s throughput,” he said.
So might these findings appeal to other cities? Government workers in the Washington, D.C., area might have a chance to find out. The city is “considering” buying the ATSC software from Los Angeles, according a report in the New York Times.
Posted on Apr 04, 2013 at 2:07 PM0 comments
Microsoft says it’s making progress in moving cash-strapped public-sector organizations to the cloud, announcing that a group of eight local governments and universities were moving to its Office 365 platform. The suite of applications is a subscription-based, multitenant service offering e-mail, calendars and collaboration applications via a community cloud.
Eight local government and university organizations are moving to the service, Microsoft said, including Kansas City, Mo.; Seattle and King County, Wash.; and the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. The universities of Miami and Colorado at Colorado Springs, the California Institute of Technology and Sacramento State University were also making the move, Microsoft said.
Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. public sector at Microsoft, said the new sign-ups reflect the requirements of budget-conscious government and education organizations who also want access to some of the management conveniences promised by the cloud.
“Organizations are achieving significant cost savings through the cloud delivery model while gaining access to the latest collaboration tools, without sacrificing on security or privacy,” he said at the firm’s recent CIO summit.
The organizations sought out Office 365 solution for different reasons, the company said. Kansas City wanted to lower IT costs as well as its energy consumption. Kansas City CIO Mary Miller said the move to Office 365, “would enable our staff to be more efficient while reducing both the city’s IT costs and its energy footprint.”
The University of Miami, on the other hand, had a requirement for a cloud service that met federal health information privacy requirements. Microsoft was the “only vendor willing to offer additional security and privacy safeguards to meet this federal law,” according to the company. And CalTech wanted to “get out of the business of managing e-mail.”
King County CIO Bill Kehoe told InfoWorld the county had used Office 365’s forerunner, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, in 2011 but made the switch to 365 last year.
"One efficiency has been that we don't have to build out an on-premise server environment for SharePoint and Lync," he told the magazine. "We rely on Microsoft's infrastructure, and they do the software upgrades and take care of the system maintenance."
More than 1 million government workers have made the move to Office 365 for productivity applications, including the Agriculture Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, the city of Chicago and the state of Texas.
Moving resource-strapped public sector agencies from their legacy office applications is no small feat. In making its transition to Office 365, the Environmental Protection Agency said it had to move more than 25,000 employee mailboxes, some of which it discovered held more than a million e-mails. The transition is expected to save the EPA approximately $12 million over the four-year contract period.
In a separate announcement, Microsoft said 11 K-12 school districts and universities have signed on to use Microsoft’s cross-platform Windows 8 operating system. The group includes the Atlanta Public Schools, Barry University, Fargo Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District, Jackson-Madison County School System, Pace University, San Antonio Independent Schools District, and Little Thomas College and Tuckahoe Common School District.
Posted on Apr 02, 2013 at 1:42 PM1 comments
The Homeland Security Department, in an effort to gain better control over its portable devices, has approved a line of secure USB drives for purchase by its component agencies. In an audit of portable device security policy last June DHS’ inspector general concluded that its component agencies were not adhering to policies regarding their inventory of USB thumb drives.
In an effort to unify its components in following policy, DHS has awarded a three-year blanket purchase agreement to Promark Technology, distributors of the Kanguru Defender Elite secure USB drives. The Defender Elite’s encryption model is FIPS 140-2 certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, so it meets DHS requirements for handling sensitive information. Its onboard antivirus, tamper-resistant design and remote management capabilities make it a good choice for use in secure environments.
The agreement approves for purchase hardware-encrypted models of the Kanguru USB drive ranging from 2G to 64 G in capacity. DHS also has approved Kanguru Remote Management Console Enterprise Edition 5.0 and other Kanguru management software for purchase.
The software lets admins track and manage the USB drives anywhere in the world, letting them set password changes, enforce strong password rules, restrict IP addresses, set permissions and disable or delete lost or stolen devices.
Posted on Apr 01, 2013 at 8:41 AM1 comments