By GCN Staff

Army beta tests SHARP counseling with avatars

Army explores avatar-based training

The Army last week conducted beta tests on the ELITE SHARP Command Team Trainer laptop-based training software.

The ELITE SHARP CTT program is a spinoff of the Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment - Counseling application, which uses avatar-based scenarios to teach counseling techniques for junior leaders.  SHARP refers to sexual harassment/assault response and prevention, and the application provides instructional demonstrations and interactive practice scenarios related to SHARP incidents.

Users and participants in the beta provided feedback and comments to the developers, which will be reviewed for improving the software.  A revised version will be provided to the SHARP Program Office and then passed to the National Simulation Center for software validation.  After validation, the software will be evaluated by the Army Research Institute for its effectiveness in achieving its goal of providing better virtual or immersive training.

"We want to provide a virtual interpersonal environment for the unit command team to practice baseline knowledge and skills so they have some practice before they have to deal with a SHARP incident involving a soldier," said Ashley Russell, process improvement specialist with the Army SHARP Program Office.

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 at 1:49 PM0 comments

Building better energy models with the help of DOE supercomputers

Building better energy models with the help of DOE supercomputers

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed open source software to help improve energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings.

The Autotune code automatically calibrates building energy models with actual usage, which reduces the amount of time and expertise needed to optimize building parameters for cost and energy savings. It also increases the accuracy over current manual modeling calibration techniques.

To develop the software, the team used DOE supercomputing and computational resources -- including ORNL’s Titan supercomputer and the National Institute for Computational Sciences’ Nautilus system -- to perform millions of simulations for a range of standard building types.

On Titan, the team has been able to run annual energy simulations for more than half a million buildings and write 45 terabytes of simulation output to disk in less than one hour -- using just over a third of Titan’s nearly 300,000 CPU cores in parallel.

The Autotune code includes a backend that performs the evolutionary calibration, a web service that allows scripting for calibrating large numbers of buildings and a front-end website.

Autotune is available on GitHub.

Posted on Sep 04, 2015 at 7:20 AM0 comments

jackson open data

Jackson joins the open data movement

Jackson, Miss., is the latest city to join the open data movement with the mayor’s signing of an executive order on open data on Sept. 1.

Mayor Tony T. Yarber is leading Jackson on its first steps towards open data by establishing data policies, standardizing practices and making key city datasets available internally and to city residents through an open data portal.

According to the announcement, the order includes incentives to make sure city staff understand the purpose of data collection, how to regularly collect and publish data and how to effectively make decisions based on the data.

Longer-term goals include linking open data to the city’s performance management dashboard, sharing open data updates with the public and stakeholders and creating an initial inventory of the city’s datasets.

The city’s open data policy is part of Jackson’s participation in What Works Cities, a national initiative through Bloomberg Philanthropies that helps cities open their data. Jackson is the first of the participating What Works Cities to sign an open data executive order.

Boston and New York City also recently published new open data policies in July. New York City’s rebranded “Open Data for All” focuses on how citizens can better understand and benefit from the data, and Boston’s “Open and Protected Data Policy” establishes a stronger set of standards for the city.  

Posted on Sep 03, 2015 at 1:43 PM0 comments

Army health platform embraces the fitness-tracking craze

Army health platform embraces the fitness-tracking craze

The Army is adapting its ArmyFit personal health, resilience and performance platform for smartphones and mobile fitness devices.

ArmyFit will store, track and integrate data from those devices, and provide real-time feedback so users can track such things as running, steps taken, nutrition and even sleep. ArmyFit works with Fitbit and Jawbone, and the ability to sync Garmin and Withings devices is coming soon.

"Tracking all of those behaviors increases awareness, increases mindfulness and also can prompt behavioral change, such as being more aware of what you're eating and how much you're working out," said Capt. Kristin Saboe. "That alone can lead to change and increase resilience."

ArmyFit also added an  “Ask the Experts” feature, in which experts confidentially respond to questions on a wide range of topics, from physical fitness and sports medicine to nutrition, relationships and mental and emotional health. 

In addition to the ArmyFit, the Army Global Assessment Tool has also been made mobile-ready.  The annual GAT requirement for non-deployed soldiers helps evaluate fitness and is a prerequisite for accessing ArmyFit content.  Soldiers can access the services by using an Army Knowledge Online username and password – no Common Access Card is needed.

“Soldiers have a personal responsibility to manage and maintain their overall health and resilience,” said Saboe. “ArmyFit is a platform to help soldiers do that.”

Posted on Aug 27, 2015 at 7:23 AM0 comments

NASA building next-gen hurricane forecasting satellites

NASA building next-gen hurricane forecasting satellites

NASA is building new satellite technology that should dramatically improve forecasting for hurricanes and tropical storms.

NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) consists of eight microsatellites that will allow scientists to better measure wind speeds near the inner core of a hurricane from space, using both direct and reflected signals from GPS satellites.

As the CYGNSS and GPS satellites circle Earth, their interaction will provide a new image of wind speeds over the entire tropics. The combination of CYGNSS and GPS satellites will allow NASA to collect images of wind speed every few hours, which will improve the forecasting and tracking of hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones. Before CYGNSS, NASA used a single satellite that delivered  a new image only every few days.

The CYGNSS passed two critical NASA reviews, and now the microsatellites are being tested and prepared for flight. The mission is scheduled to launch late next year, with operations beginning during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

Posted on Aug 26, 2015 at 10:59 AM0 comments