Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


USGS to merge National Atlas and National Map programs

The National Atlas of the United States and the National Map will be combined into a single source for geospatial and cartographic information,  the U.S. Geological Survey announced.

The purpose of the merger is to streamline access to information from the USGS National Geospatial Program, which will help set priorities for its civilian mapping role and “consolidate core investments,” the USGS said.

The National Atlas provides a map-like view of the geospatial and geostatistical collected for the United States. It was designed to “enhance and extend our geographic knowledge and understanding and to foster national self-awareness,” according to its website. It will be removed from service on Sept. 30, 2014, as part of the conversion.  Some of the products and services from the National Atlas will continue to be available from The National Map, while others will not, the agency said.  A National Atlas transition page is online and will be updated with the latest news on the continuation or disposition of National Atlas products and services.

The National Map is designed to improve and deliver topographic information for the United States. It has been used for scientific analysis and emergency response, according to the USGS website.

In an effort to make the transition an easy one, the agency said it would post updates to the National Map and National Atlas websites during the conversion, including the “availability of the products and services currently delivered by nationalatlas.gov.”

“We recognize how important it is for citizens to have access to the cartographic and geographic information of our nation, said National Geospatial Program Director Mark DeMulder. “We are committed to providing that access through nationalmap.gov.”

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 at 8:56 AM0 comments


Disorder in the court? Check your beacon

Apple introduced its iBeacon at a developers conference last June, an “indoor positioning system” it described as "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence."

Like other beacons, Apple’s iBeacon works in the Bluetooth Low Energy frequency range to send  notifications to other devices within a network of “location-aware” beacons mounted on nearby surfaces.

While the technology is new, initial interest has focused on applications in the retail, events or energy savings, but the technology has also spawned ideas for applications in the public-sector community. In a blog on the National Center for State Courts website, court technology consultant Jim McMillan proposed several, including apps for courthouse navigation and public safety.

“It would be great to be able to provide an automatic guide to assist the public in what is called ‘wayfaring’ though a courthouse facility,” McMillan wrote. Or a courtroom beacon system could be set up to locate over-scheduled attorneys trying to keep up with the typical delays and sudden shifts in the docket.

Finally, beacons could help tighten courthouse security, wrote McMillan, “by automatically locating and calling the closest bailiffs or deputies to the courtroom if there is a problem that they could address.”

For other location-aware applications of beacon technology, “our imagination is the only limit,” he said. 

Posted on Mar 13, 2014 at 9:01 AM1 comments


Survey: Organizations seek better data governance tools

Survey: 2013 Data Governance Survey Results, by Rand Secure Data

Key Points: In spite of the fact that organizations expect overall data growth in the next year between 26 percent and 50 percent, with the median amount of data stored between 20TB to 50TB, respondents reported that their data management tools (archiving, backup and ediscovery) don’t meet expectations.

Only 8 percent of organizations with more than 500 TB of data rated their data archiving solutions as excellent, and over 32 percent of respondents overall ranked their data and email archiving solutions as average or poor. The more data an organization has, the lower the solutions were ranked.

Of the 98 percent of respondents who said they have backup solutions in place, 25 percent of them said they were extremely satisfied with their current solution, while just under 40 percent said they are or may be looking to implement or upgrade their backup solution within the next year. Nearly 15 percent more of survey respondents however indicated archiving is more important than backup to their organizations.

Nearly 20 percent of respondents reported they do not have an ediscovery solution in their organization, while only 10 percent with a solution rated it as excellent. Over one quarter rated their solution as poor, and more than half (51 percent) are or may be looking to upgrade their solution in the next year.

Bottom line: The dissatisfaction over data and email archiving systems combined with their importance within organizations signify a need in the market for new and innovative data and email archiving solutions.

Posted on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM0 comments


States to get security services to boost cyber info sharing

The Department of Homeland Security is rolling out a plan to offer states and territorial government organizations a set of free managed security services, including intrusion detection and prevention, netflow analysis and firewall monitoring.

The services will be provided by the Center for Internet Security’s Multistate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), a 24x7 operations center that provides real-time network monitoring, threat warnings and incident mitigation and response. 

The plan is part of a multipronged effort to boost government threat information sharing and cooperation called for in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework, a set of voluntary guidelines released by NIST in February to promote the protection of critical systems and management of cybersecurity risk. 

Phyllis Schneck, DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), said making the managed services available and adopting the NIST framework a key step making local government information systems secure. 

“The adoption of the framework will encourage longer term risk-based planning and better security overall – this is a win-win and we are excited to be able to provide such tactical assistance to our state and territorial stakeholders,” she said in a recent blog post.

To help promote the use of the NIST framework and coordinate projects to strengthen information sharing, DHS this February launched the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C3) Voluntary Program, which will help coordinate critical infrastructure operations, DHS said. 

In its first year, the C3 Voluntary Program will focus on engaging with “sector-specific agencies,” including the defense industrial base, energy and emergency services sectors to adopt the NIST framework.

Later phases of the program will “reach out to all critical infrastructure (groups) interested in using the framework,” according to DHS. 

The C3 program will also encourage the critical infrastructure community to “manage cybersecurity as part of an ‘all hazards approach’ to enterprise risk management,” according to DHS. 

Posted on Mar 04, 2014 at 11:48 AM1 comments


API layer fuels official US Navy mobile app

Thanks to a strong application programming interface layer, the U.S. Navy has been able to effectively launch a mobile app to connect sailors and their families with relevant and updated content.

The app, built by Web developer Mobomo, brings together content from around the fleet and makes it available in a single, constantly updating app. Users can view photos of its ships and submarines and watch videos of drones being launched. It provides users with all the relevant information they need whenever they need it.

“It’s about being where it matters, when it matters,” said Mobomo COO Brian Lacey at the recent MobdevGov conference in Rosslyn, Va.

Users can create a customizable experience by selecting themes, video playlists and image galleries relative to their deployment, career and interests. Sailors and their families can stay up to date with news alerts and calendar tools.  

The mobile app also features an interactive map, which shows the locations of all bases, events and deployed forces.

Lacey said the importance of an API layer is often overlooked, and that the app would not have worked without it. The function of the API layer in this case is to pull in the multimedia content and push it out to different devices. It is essentially operating as an adaptor plug to make the app functional on a number of platforms.

The API has made the app available for the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets and Chromebooks. By connecting to the different platforms, the API lets users instantly configure the app, creating push notifications as well as adding and deleting feeds, video content and breaking news alerts.

The API layer also provides the app’s security, preventing hackers from accessing  its source code.

Posted on Mar 03, 2014 at 10:57 AM0 comments