Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


PTO shopping for tech to automate acquisition systems

The Patent and Trademark Office is looking into whether off the shelf, “enterprisewide,” products are available that would help it conduct tasks related to the acquisition process. 

The products, sought by PTO’s chief financial offer, would include acquisition workload planning, distribution, transition and tracking technologies as well as tools to facilitate the evaluation of vendor proposals.

The acquisition tech would also have to be compatible with the content management system operated by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, an Apache Cassandra database run in a Datastax Enterprise environment, according to PTO.

The PTO is interested in finding out whether prospective acquisition planning tech is able to run on VMware, and if not, what platforms it can run on. VMware provides cloud and virtualization software.

Other PTO requirements include the ability to automate data integration with existing PTO systems, including its enterprise data warehouse and Momentum, PTO’s core financial system.

Support for Microsoft, RedHat, Oracle and Apache technologies are also required, according to the RFI.

Other desirable features of the acquisition system are that it support e-signatures and single-sign on, role-based security and electronic workflow. Real-time integration with the Federal Business Opportunities service as well as automation of Federal Acquisition Regulation data extraction are also wanted, said the PTO.

Posted on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:51 AM0 comments


BYOD of choice for Congress

BYOD of choice for Congress

Apple devices have taken root on the Hill, according to a recent survey by The Hill.

Of the 102 lawmakers whose offices responded to The Hill’s questions, more than 71 percent use iPhones, 9 percent use Android phones and 28 percent carry a BlackBerry. Not surprisingly, many carry more than one device. Among those using tablets, 95 percent use iPads.

Congress is much more Apple-friendly than the nation as a whole, according to The Hill, where about  42 percent of smartphone owners have an iPhone and 52 percent have an Android.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who represents the Silicon Valley district that includes Apple’s headquarters, also has the full suite of an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air — and he’s looking into picking up one of the company’s new Apple Watches, spokesman Ken Scudder said.

The lone Windows phone owner is Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), a former Microsoft executive who now represents the district that includes the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. DelBene’s staffers use Windows phones as well, her office told The Hill.

Like most Americans, popular apps for lawmakers include those that provide news, weather and traffic, although Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) told The Hill they were fans of Capitol Bells, an app developed by a former Capitol Hill staffer that decodes the Capitol’s buzzer system and lets the general public follow along.

Posted on Oct 14, 2014 at 9:32 AM2 comments


NIST funds research center on cybersecurity tools

The National Institute of Standards and Technology awarded a contract to operate a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) to support the work of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE).

The NCCoE was set up in partnership with the state of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., in February 2012. The center is dedicated to helping businesses secure their data by drawing experts from government, universities and industry to help identify security solutions.

FFRDCs are public private partnerships contracted to do research for the federal government. The NIST FFRDC was awarded to the Mitre Corp., which operates six additional FFRDCs.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the NIST contract will enable the center to accelerate public-private collaborations by working with the first FFRCD, “focused on boosting the security of U.S. information systems.”

The center has been working in industry sectors such as health care and energy to identify common security concerns and to develop model cybersecurity examples and practice guides. It also works with small groups of vendors to develop “building blocks” addressing technical cybersecurity challenges that are common across multiple industry sectors, according to the NIST announcement.

NIST’s intention in awarding a FFRDC contract to support the NCCoE’s goals was announced last year.

Federal staff will provide overall management of the center, while MITRE will support the center’s mission through three task areas: research, development, engineering and technical support; operations management; and facilities management.

The first three task orders under the contract will allow the NCCoE to expand its efforts in developing use cases and building blocks and provide operations management and facilities planning.

Posted on Oct 02, 2014 at 12:13 PM0 comments


Not all clouds created equal

A major bottleneck in scientific discovery is now emerging because the amount of data available is outpacing local computing capacity, according to authors of new paper published on PLOSone.

And though cloud computing gives researchers a way to match capacity and power with demand, the authors wondered which cloud configuration would best met their needs.  According to the paper, Benchmarking undedicated cloud computing providers for analysis of genomic datasets, the authors benchmarked two cloud services, Amazon Web Services Elastic MapReduce (EMR) on Amazon EC2 instances and Google Compute Engine (GCE), using publicly available genomic data sets and a standard bioinformatic pipeline on a Hadoop-based platform.

They found that GCE outperformed EMR both in terms of cost and wall-clock time, though EMR was more consistent, which is an important issue in undedicated cloud computing, they wrote.

The time differences, the authors said, “could be attributed to the hardware used by the Google and Amazon for their cloud services. Amazon offers a 2.0 GHz Intel Xeon Sandy Bridge CPU, whilst Google uses a 2.6 GHz Intel Xeon Sandy Bridge CPU. This clock speed variability is considered the main contributing factor to the difference between the two undedicated platforms,” they wrote.

The authors did note that while cloud computing is an “efficient and potentially cost-effective alternative for analysis of large genomic data sets,” the initial transfer of the data into the cloud was still a challenge. One option, they suggested, would be for the data providers to directly deposit the information to a designated cloud service provider, thereby eliminating the need for the researcher to handle the data twice.

More detail about the benchmarking and results are available on PLOSone

Posted on Oct 01, 2014 at 1:28 PM1 comments


Coalition to reinforce civic tech in mid-Atlantic region

The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative (CCI), a public-private partnership formed to support civic technology enhancement, has organized a SWAT team of sorts to help cities strengthen their technology foundations, harden their resiliency and optimize programs and services.  

The Safe + Smart Cities coalition, made up of experts from the tech, higher education and financial communities, picked the city of Newark, Del., as its first pilot. A second city from the mid-Atlantic region will be announced this fall to receive pro bono recommendations from the team.

In an announcement, the coalition said its recommendations aim to provide the cities “pragmatic and feasible options to achieve “safe and smart” objectives.

“The strategies developed as a result of this effort will allow us to maximize our limited resources in a way that best serves the citizens of Delaware,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who added the project could help “enhance our resiliency so we mitigate the damage of disaster situations before they happen.”

The Newark pilot will open with a workshop on the city’s technological maturity and vulnerabilities, the status of its infrastructure and what tools might be deployed to meet a “safe and smart” profile, according to the announcement.

That will produce a Safe + Smart City “blueprint,” or big picture report  integrating “hard and soft infrastructure functions,” including buildings, public safety and communication networks.

Herb Miller, co-founder and vice chair of CCI, said questions about how to cope with natural disasters has recently become a priority for cities, together with how to use technology to improve civic “livability” and connections to constituents.

“But these approaches are often pursued through separate channels with different stakeholders, even though they have many core commonalities,” he said.

The coalition hopes to use the lessons from its work with Newark to “as a reference model for many other municipalities and the nation as a whole,” said Stephanie Carnes, CCI’s managing director.

CCI has lined up a sizeable list of participants for the project, including Cisco, Schneider Electric, AtHoc, Verint Systems and Priority 5, which will examine the “technological maturity” of each pilot city.

Virginia Tech and the universities of Maryland and Delaware will also lend their expertise in the areas of resilience and risk mitigation, according to the announcement.

Posted on Sep 30, 2014 at 10:26 AM0 comments