Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


NASA launches challenges using OpenNEX data

NASA is launching two challenges to give the public an opportunity to create innovative ways to use data from the agency’s Earth science satellites.

The open data challenges will use the Open NASA Earth Exchange (OpenNEX), an Amazon Web Services data and supercomputing platform where users can share knowledge and expertise.

A component of the NASA Earth Exchange, OpenNEX also features a large collection of climate and Earth science satellite data sets, including global land surface images, vegetation conditions, climate observations and climate projections.

“OpenNEX provides the general public with easy access to an integrated Earth science computational and data platform,” said Rama Nemani, principal scientist for the NEX project at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

“These challenges allow citizen scientists to realize the value of NASA data assets and offers NASA new ideas on how to share and use that data.”

To educate citizen scientists on how the data on OpenNEX can be used, NASA is releasing a series of online video lectures and hands-on lab modules.

The first stage of the challenge offers as much as $10,000 in awards for ideas on novel uses of the data sets. The second stage, beginning in August, will offer between $30,000 and $50,000  for the development of an application or algorithm that promotes climate resilience using the OpenNEX data, and based on ideas from the first stage of the challenge. NASA will announce the overall challenge winners in December.

OpenNEX is hosted on the Amazon Web Services cloud and available to the public through a Space Act Agreement.

Posted on Jun 25, 2014 at 12:18 PM0 comments


Commerce secretary pledges full embrace of open data

“America’s data agency.” That’s how Bruce Andrews, the Commerce Department’s acting deputy secretary, described the business affairs agency before a meeting of the Open Data Roundtable this week.

 

In a guest blog post on Commerce.gov, Andrews outlined the agency’s mission and vowed to redouble its efforts to make put more data as well as tools to manage it into the hands of business and industry.

 

“Our goal is to unleash even more government data to help business leaders make the best possible decisions, while creating fertile ground for more startups,” Andrews said.  

 

“The best way to do that is to listen to suggestions from those already using our data – and to get the private sector’s guidance on where the federal government can unlock the greatest value in our data sets.”

 

The Open Data Roundtable was organized by the GovLab at New York University, the Commerce Department and the White House Office of Technology Policy. It is the first of several future events planned with federal agencies, including the Agriculture, Labor, Transportation and Treasury departments.

Andrews told the 21 companies convened that the department is working with other federal agencies to improve data interoperability and dissemination.

 

“We understand the necessity of ensuring that data is easy to find, understand, and access,” Andrews wrote.

 

“We recognize the urgent need to get this right, and we know that only by listening to the business community, partnering with industry, and collaborating with fellow government agencies, can we best serve our customers and unleash the full power and potential of open data.”

Posted on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:17 AM1 comments


NIST forms new cloud working groups

The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced three public working groups to address cloud services, federated community cloud and interoperability and portability. The working groups are being formed to address requirements laid out in the Cloud Computing Standards and Technology Roadmap.

The Cloud Services working group will perform a study of cloud services and methodologies to determine their properties to clearly and consistently categorize cloud services. 

Besides the cloud computing definition from NIST that categorizes cloud services as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), dozens of new types of cloud services and acronyms for them have popped up in the marketplace.

The new public working group will use the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture to provide consistent categories of cloud services so buyers know what they are committing to before signing potentially costly, long-term contracts.

The Federated Community Cloud working group will define the term "federated cloud" and develop a path to its implementation. It is charged to develop a framework to support disparate community cloud environments – including those that access internal and external cloud resources from multiple providers.

The Interoperability & Portability for Cloud Computing working group will identify the types of interoperability and portability needed for cloud computing systems, the relationships and interactions between interoperability and portability; and circumstances where interoperability and portability are relevant in cloud computing.

Posted on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM0 comments


What’s cooking at 18F

18F is the digital services group in the General Services Administration, whose goal is to promote innovation among agencies by creating and sharing open source applications specific to government. Some of its recent work, posted to Github, includes the following:

dodsbir-scrape is a python module for extracting DOD Small Business Innovation Research topics from http://dodsbir.net. It can get a list of topic numbers and solicitation information, get the topic from topic number or get all topics and save as a JSON file. So far, the scraper doesn't retrieve questions and answers associated with topics.

Communicart combines the features of a shopping cart with the those of an informal email conversation to create a permanent, searchable, archived record of why a particular group of objects was purchased and who approved this purchase. It is an effort to empower P-Card holders and GSA Advantage users to purchase as efficiently and effectively as possible. More on Communicart.

Code Talker is intended to power sites and applications that use various procurement codes for federal solicitations and support industry and government interactions. In one demo of the tool, it lets users find NAICS codes that match keyword descriptions, which could help business owners in categorizing their businesses.

Beckley is a search index and API server for anyone requiring basic, fast search of highly curated content. Named after John Beckley, the first Librarian of Congress, the idea is to allow non-developers to easily create a list of URLs and related info to be included in a siloed search index.

PriceHistoryGUI allows government buyers to research actual prices paid in order to lower the price they pay for goods and services. Individual transactions can be selected by "drag 'n drop" into portfolios, which can then be imported into a text editor to document market research. Within the federal government, this software uses data which is not available for public usage, but the code is in the public domain. 

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 at 12:24 PM0 comments


Network forensics enhances Army NIE

At the latest Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), a Defense Department field evaluation of new technologies, the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (USAEPG) provided a network forensics team that made a positive impact on network troubleshooting, reliability and network protection, the Army reported.

According to Ed D. Watt, an Army civilian and project engineer with USAEPG, network forensics offers network operators and systems administrators the ability to monitor network traffic and data in real time. This helps IT professionals establish a baseline normal network, and identify network issues quickly, like improperly configured or failing equipment and unauthorized use.

Network forensics, though relatively new, is increasingly becoming the tool of choice on civilian and corporate networks, offering not only network tuning, but intrusion detection, the Army said. Considered a proactive network protection, it allows network operators to identify unusual network traffic and respond to compromised systems well ahead of more traditional means of detection, like antivirus.

"When you start cleaning up the small things, the network gets better, data goes faster, all of a sudden, it's a force multiplier," Watt said, referring to the value of an efficient network for military operations.

The network forensics team provided support to all NIE participants, in essence creating a help desk-like support element for the event. Participants also asked the network forensics team for assistance in characterizing or optimizing their respective network, whether carrying data or voice, at the tactical or operational levels. The team responded to nearly 100 requests for assistance, all with successful outcomes.

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM0 comments