Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Washington county consolidates 911 systems

Pierce County, Wash., has consolidated 911 systems and emergency response centers across five local jurisdictions in order to streamline dispatch and rescue operations as well as standardize on the technology that supports them.

South Sound 911, the resulting “interlocal agency,” consolidates multiple public safety answering points (PSAPs) for police, fire and emergency medical services across the state's second most populous county.  

The interlocal agency, drawn from Pierce County, the city of Tacoma, the city of Lakewood, the city of Fife as well as West Pierce Fire and Rescue, will tie in 911 and dispatch for 16 law enforcement agencies and 22 fire departments.

South Sound 911 is the result of a collaboration between 911 centers and the local community. In November 2011, Pierce County residents voted for a 0.1% sales tax increase to support public safety. With the community's support, five 911 centers are consolidating, and an integrated radio system will be built.

"Interoperability, information sharing and standardization are some of the key capabilities we sought to support South Sound 911's mission and vision," said Andrew Neiditz, executive director of South Sound 911.

To deliver those services, the county recently acquired a set of technologies from Intergraph Corp., including a computer-aided dispatch system and a suite of mobile, mapping and analytics applications.

The company’s I/CAD system replaces prior multiple disparate systems with a multisite, multijurisdictional, multidiscipline capability to public safety teams across the state, according to Neiditz. 

The system integrates call management and dispatch with analytical, mapping and mobile applications.  Intergraph EdgeFrontier integration software manages interfacing and integration between the public safety agencies.

In addition to I/CAD, Intergraph mobile technologies for laptops, tablets and smartphones will allow personnel in the field to exchange dispatch messages, view incident details and query databases.

The company’s Mobile Responder, Mobile for Public Safety, I/Netviewer, I/NetDispatcher and I/Tracker provide Web and mobile dispatching capabilities, while its BI Direct and Incident Analyst features enable reporting and analytical applications, according to Intergraph.

"This technology will allow us to assign resources from any or all agencies to a single incident providing better protection for our first responders and safer communities,” said Neiditz. 

Posted on Apr 23, 2014 at 8:20 AM0 comments


IE 11 'Enterprise Mode' tackles browser compatibility

Agency IT managers wrestling to keep applications current with frequent browser and OS updates may see some relief in Internet Explorer 11.  The browser’s new “Enterprise Mode” feature aims to address compatibility issues.

An IE 11 browser running Enterprise Mode can automatically switch to emulate older Microsoft browser technologies, such as IE 8 technology, without requiring an action from an end user, if it's set up to work that way. As described by Microsoft, Enterprise Mode potentially could ameliorate upgrade problems associated with older IE technologies.

"Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11 may not fix all compatibility problems, but does work for many of the most common issues," Microsoft explained in a blog post. "Most importantly, this is an area of continued investment for Microsoft and is a significant step towards helping customers stay up-to-date with the latest version of Internet Explorer."

Enterprise Mode is also conceived as a way for Microsoft to break the dependencies that organizations may have for continuing to use IE 8. According to Microsoft, organizations "chose to standardize on Internet Explorer 8 to help ease the migration to Windows 7." IE 8 was the last version of Microsoft's browser that was supported on the now unsupported Windows XP OS.

In theory, with IE 11 Enterprise Mode, it's possible to have the performance and security benefits of using Microsoft's newer browser without having to remediate corporate Web apps based on older IE 8 technologies. Enterprise Mode specifically provides a "compatibility view" for IE 8-based sites and apps and it may also support older technologies, such as IE 7, according to Microsoft. It does so by "replicating the original Internet Explorer 8 user agent string" and mimicking IE 8's ActiveX responses. It also dispenses with "some vestiges of proprietary functionality" in IE 8, per Microsoft. Lastly, Enterprise Mode turns off some IE 11 features that don't work when emulating older IE browser technologies. For instance, an improved tab-switching capability in IE 11 doesn't work right with IE 8-based technologies.

IT pros get some controls over the use of Enterprise Mode. For instance, they can specify whether end users can use the Enterprise Mode feature or not. It's also possible to use Group Policy to designate which sites will run with Enterprise Mode turned on and which sites won't.

A longer version of the article appeared on Redmondmag.com, a sister site to GCN.

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM0 comments


Universities beef up cybersecurity, identity theft research

The University of Texas at Austin will open a center to offer research, programs and workshops to help the public better understand the threats of identity theft, fraud and privacy.  The university said its outreach would initially involve groups most at risk to the threats: senior citizens, children and small business operators.

The resources would be funded with a $5 million appropriation from the Texas legislature, the largest state investment in identity theft protection in the country, according to the university.

The project is being managed by of UT’s Center for Identity, an inter-disciplinary research center that draws from the university’s business, law, engineering and computer science departments for a focus on identity management, privacy and security.

Leveraging the resources of The University of Texas and those of its public and private sector members, the Center aims to forecast threats and deliver solutions that define and protect identity in physical and cyber environments.

Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, who is on the center’s board of advisors and chairs its child ID task force, called identity fraud “an increasingly common occurrence and a huge expense for state and federal government.”

“Smarter, more informed consumers lead to less fraud, theft and abuse of identity information,” she added. “We believe this effort can help prevent millions lost to the state of Texas as a result of identity fraud cases.”

The resource center, which was announced at the Center for Identity’s third annual ID360 conference, is expected to launch in the summer of 2014.

Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut is planning to expand an existing research center it operates on hardware security with the help of a multimillion-dollar investment by cable operator Comcast Corp., according to the Hartford Courant.

The state has been plagued with security breaches in the last year, according to the report, which said 400 breaches affected half a million residents.

The UConn program, named the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation, will lead research into the IT components of cybersecurity, with six professors and seven doctoral candidates dedicated to work at the center.

Mark Tehranipoor, director of the Comcast-UConn partnership, said his goal is to make the center "a national authority for hardware, software and network security,” according to the Courant. 

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:22 AM0 comments


NARA crowdsources video captioning

Language and accessibility barriers for online videos are being broken down by an online tool that allows individuals, communities and organizations to caption and subtitle videos.

Amara, a toolset created by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF), a non-profit dedicated to creating open video tools and services, lets users create, edit and manage production-ready subtitles. It is being used internally by a number of premium content organizations, including Netflix and the National Archives and Records Administration.

NARA is currently using Amara’s crowdsourcing techniques to find volunteers to caption its older analog videos to make them accessible to the hearing impaired.

The cloud-based Amara editor enables the easy creation of subtitles and makes quality control, editing and publishing changes simple, according to PCF.

First, users add the URL of their video into their team space on Amara. The tool’s workflow system allows users to assign tasks, such as creating captions, translating, reviewing and giving final approval. Once the subtitles have been through the review process, Amara automatically syncs with video hosts like YouTube. Users can also use Amara’s API to collect the completed subtitles.

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 at 10:49 AM0 comments


GPS satellites improve position accuracy, deter spoofing

The Air Force will soon begin early implementation of the GPS Civil Navigation message and will use the process to help develop new countermeasures against spoofing, according to an article in Aviation Week.

GPS satellites will begin early broadcast of the more accurate navigation messages on the new civil L2C and L5 signals.

The L2C signal will enable "dual frequency," which will increase position accuracy and provide fast initial location.  L5 -- the international "safety of life signal" for aviation --  will enable moving from landmark and radar-based navigation to GPS-guided approaches and landings.

These upgrades improve anti-jam capabilities for the warfighter and improve security for military and civil users around the world.

The early implementation of the message broadcast is expected to begin in April 2014 and help development of user equipment compatible with the civil signals. The pre-implementation phase will also help the Air Force find new ways to protect against the growing threat of spoofing, in which vehicles can be put off course by counterfeit signals, Aviation Week reported. 

Posted on Apr 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM0 comments