Video streaming, in the form of movies-on-demand services, has already become part of the consumer tech repertoire. But it is a tech convenience not always available in settings where it might mean the difference between life and death, such as when public safety responses are launched in mountains or caves without fixed networks.
Rescue workers have the means today to communicate via mobile phones with each other over ad hoc networks in remote locations. But these devices and networks often are not robust enough to support transmitting video, which can be a critical tool in emergency response.
Thomas Plagemann, a professor at the University of Olso in Norway, is working to enhance so-called Delay Tolerant Streaming Services (DTSS) to make that happen, according to a report in Science Daily.
"We are concentrating on transmitting multimedia data over mobile ad hoc networks with an eye to use in emergency and rescue operations in areas with no permanent data infrastructure,” he told the news service.
The group is creating new middleware techniques enabling programmers to run software development across multiple layers of the network stack at the same time.
The technique, called cross-layer optimization, results in a more robust network to handle the demands of video on ad hoc remote networks. It is one of several improvements being made in the resilience of public safety networks in the last several years.
After the London terrorist bombings in 2007, for instance, a team from Kingston University designed a tool to let rescue workers communicate without risking delays or jamming in having to through centralized mobile access points, according to Science Daily.
Posted on Feb 06, 2013 at 11:24 AM1 comments
The White House and Congress continue to jockey over gun control legislation, but any plan that emerges will have to rely on the back-end IT systems of law enforcement agencies. Are those systems up to the task?
Not quite, argues Information Week’s John Foley, who writes that the federal government’s electronic firearm registration systems need to be overhauled.
Current gun registration databases are managed mainly by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) E-Check system and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Firearms Tracing System. And those systems, Foley writes, are “in desperate need of fixing.”
For example, it says, the ATF’s system still uses microfiche – those spooled rolls of film that contain photographs of recorded data – to retrieve information requested by law enforcement officials. And although the NICS processed 16.5 million firearms background checks in 2011, the article said, only 6 percent of them were received electronically.
Electronically received checks can be processed within 30 seconds, according to the FBI website. The remainder can take several days.
Read a transcript of this video.
Posted on Feb 05, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments
West Virginia has begun preparing for the new provisions of the Affordable Care Act that will kick in next year with an online survey for the state’s health care practitioners.
The West Virginia Health Information Network’s online tool asks medical providers to answer a readiness survey about their ability to connect to a centralized data exchange, according to a release from the organization.
Centralized data exchanges are a key but controversial aspect of the law, often called Obamacare, and some state governors have announced they will opt out of the exchange program.
The results of the survey will give WVHIN information about the providers’ organizations and how the Health Information Exchange could benefit the various kinds of care, the release said.
Currently, important patient health information is often fragmented, residing in different electronic health record systems that do not communicate with each other. West Virginia’s exchange allows patient health information to be shared seamlessly and securely across disparate EHR systems.
The survey “is the starting point for providers interested in becoming a participant in the WVHIN’s Health Information Exchange,” Amber Nary, WVHIN business development manager, said in the release. “The survey helps the WVHIN understand the providers’ connectivity goals, baseline their EHR system capability to connect to the WVHIN and to gather general information about their organization."
The new online survey was developed at no cost to the West Virginia Health Information Network through the state’s self-funded electronic government program.
Posted on Feb 01, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments
Computer manufacturer NCS Technologies has announced its rugged, short-depth Bunker XRV-5241 server designed for tight spaces and harsh conditions on land or at sea.
The Bunker XRV-5241 is built for rugged service, from tactical military deployments to civilian emergency response and outdoor construction and transportation, the company said in an announcement. The server has a 1U form factor and meets all relevant military performance specifications, including MIL-STD-810G, MIL-S-901D and MIL-STD-167 environmental, shock and vibration requirements.
"This equipment, in a transit case, will likely be parachuted into service in tactical deployments," said John Callahan, director of marketing at NCS Technologies, in an interview with IDG News Service. The Bunker XRV-5241 can withstand a free-fall drop of around 1 meter, but for parachute deployment it needs to be packaged into the case for additional protection, IDG added.
The server's 18-inch depth enables it to fit into tight spaces, such as those found in shipboard rack environments. The redundant hot-swappable AC/DC power supplies mean the server can be deployed in land, air and sea operations with the switch of a power supply module. Low voltage kits are also available for high temperature environments, the company said.
Bunker XRV-5241 is designed for quick and easy maintenance in the field and is equipped with an enhanced KVM over LAN feature for remote appliance management.
The server is priced starting at $3,699, according to the IDG report.
Posted on Jan 31, 2013 at 10:41 AM0 comments
Stung by employee excesses at a Las Vegas conference last year, the General Services Administration is taking steps through online education to prevent a recurrence by its workers and those of other agencies as well.
GSA has announced a series of travel training courses with the assistance of D.C.-based Blackboard aimed at teaching federal workers how to behave while on travel status, reported Government Executive.
The agency is using the “big mistake we had in the last year,” when conference attendees ran up a government bill of more than $800,000, to help all federal workers learn behavior standards away from the office, Lauren Concklin, a GSA marketing analyst, was quoted as saying.
The goal of the virtual training is to reduce travel excesses – such as the activities by Secret Service agents in a Cartegena, Colombia, hotel last spring – and help agencies realize efficiencies and savings.
Among the courses GSA is offering is a basic primer on travel regulations that covers such topics as transportation, per diem and miscellaneous expense allowances. Another course will provide instruction in how to plan, coordinate and execute conferences in accordance with, among others, the Federal Travel Regulation, Executive Directives and the Government Accountability Office.
The GSA program will include a new tracking feature so that completed courses automatically will be updated into an employee’s personal file, Concklin said.
The first course was scheduled to begin in January with others to follow in February.
Posted on Jan 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM0 comments