Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


DISA approves 23 cloud providers

DISA approves 23 cloud providers

The Defense Information Systems Agency has granted 23 cloud providers provisional authorization to host Defense Department unclassified data. Provisional authorization is a stepping-stone toward receiving an authority to operate certification.

Among the cloud services granted permission were AT&T Storage as a Service, IBM’s SmartCloud for Government and Microsoft Windows Azure Public Cloud Solution. A full list of the cloud providers granted provisional authorization can be viewed here.

Each of the DISA-approved cloud providers had been previously granted either a FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authorization or a FedRAMP Agency Authority to Operate.

“The granting of these provisional authorizations is an important step in our strategy to drive cost down by moving more of our mission data to the cloud,” Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen said in a statement.

Posted on May 05, 2015 at 7:51 AM1 comments


FAA ERAM takes off

FAA’s ERAM takes off

The Federal Aviation Administration appears to be making progress on the implementation of the NextGen air traffic control system with the announcement of the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM).  In a speech at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the ERAM is functioning in 20 high-altitude air traffic control centers where it has been installed. 

ERAM is considered a major pillar of the NextGen project -- which seeks to modernize the FAA’s 40-year-old, hard-wired airspace management system and move it to a more IP-network-centric model -- because it drives the display screens used by air traffic controllers to safely manage and separate aircraft.  Described by Huerta as providing “a big boost in technological horsepower over the system it replaces,” ERAM uses two million lines of computer code to process data regarding aircraft identity, altitude, speed and flight path. 

In accordance with NextGen’s greater goal of connecting networks, ERAM is also designed to operate with other critical FAA technologies slated for NextGen implementation, such as Performance Based Navigation, which lets controllers and flight crews to know exactly when to reduce the thrust on aircraft, and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, in which an aircraft determines its position from satellite-based information then broadcasts that data, enabling it to be tracked. Additionally, ERAM’s integration into communications systems will enable direct-link communication, similar to text messaging, while eliminating voice communication. 

“With ERAM in place, the FAA has fulfilled an important commitment in modernizing the nation’s NextGen air traffic control system,” Huerta said.   

Posted on May 04, 2015 at 1:02 PM0 comments


video metrics

5 metrics for effective video

Even as video becomes more common on government sites, it’s not always easy to tell if a video is reaching and engaging the intended audience.  Just looking at the number of viewers can be misleading, according to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Here are some better ways to measure effectiveness:

  1. Play rate, or the percentage of people who click on the video divided by the total number who access the page where it’s embedded, provides feedback on the video’s context.
  2. Average engagement measures how much of the video people are watching. Greater engagement indicates that viewers find the content valuable.
  3. Comments and social shares are important because it means that the viewer found the video interesting enough to promote.
  4. Increased time on page and also indicate that site visitors are watching embedded video content.
  5. Decreased bounce rate suggests the video encourages site visitors to view additional pages.

Videos take time and resources to script, shoot and edit, so agencies should focus on metrics that indicate quality rather than those that simply measure quantity.

Posted on Apr 30, 2015 at 12:18 PM0 comments


Survey finds few agencies are properly protecting their data

Survey finds few agencies are properly protecting their data

What: Federal Network Security Survey Report.

Why: The more complex and connected networks become, the more vulnerable they are to attacks.  But not all  agencies are taking the necessary measures to ensure their in-transit data is secure, especially when it comes to encryption. While prevention of cyber attacks was rated the highest priority among agencies surveyed (among other categories that included identifying attacks and remediation), only 26 percent of respondents believed their data was fully protected. 

Although encryption of data on networks is important to 95 percent of the agency respondents, just 76 percent said their agency encrypts its data, with 62 percent focusing on SSL encryption, which may not adequately protect Secret and Top Secret inflight datasets.

Budget constraints, limited resources, complexity and impact on network performance are top challenges agencies cited in protecting data on the network.

The study recommends that agencies select a data protection solution that is simple to implement and maintain, does not increase costs, protects various types of data and can handle current and future connection speeds.

Verbatim: “Despite the priority agencies place on security and prevention, the study results show there is no place within the enterprise where data is fully protected to prevent cyberattacks. It is critical to ensure your encryption strategy expands as your enterprise grows to accommodate additional users and networking services.” 

The Federal Network Security Survey Report was commissioned by Brocade and conducted by Market Connections. Read it here.

Posted on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:45 AM0 comments


Air quality monitoring takes a walk in the park

Finding information on local air quality may soon be as easy as a walk in the park.  The Environmental Protection Agency announced five cities will be getting  Village Green solar-powered air monitoring stations to install in parks and community centers. 

The stations use air sensors, miniaturized and low-power computer technology, solar panels and recycled materials to measure common air pollutants and weather conditions. The data is wirelessly transmitted from the stations by cellular modem, quality-checked and then posted online.

The new project aims to increase citizen participation and understanding of local air quality.  “The project puts science into the hands of citizens, allowing them to access local air quality information from the benches through on-site displays and a mobile-friendly website,” EPA said.   

The real-time data measured by the stations can be used by citizen scientists, students, community organizations and researchers to understand air quality and how events such as weather changes or nearby sources of air pollution can change local conditions.  “These new solar-powered, air monitoring park benches provide minute-by-minute data that can help citizens better understand air quality,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

The five new monitoring stations will be installed at:

  • Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia;
  • The children’s area at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.;
  • The Children’s Garden of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City;
  • Outside the new Kansas City South Branch Library; and
  • Outside the Connecticut Science Center in Harford.

A pilot station at South Regional Library in Durham County, N.C., has been operating since June 2013, providing reliable readings every minute on particulate matter, ozone, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity. The data is automatically streamed to the Village Green Project web page.

The Durham station has been a gathering place for the local community to learn about air quality and has allowed agency researchers to assess how the technology performed, the EPA said. Additionally, the agency is developing a detailed design package for use by anyone who is interested in building a station.

Posted on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:55 PM0 comments