Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Coastal flooding challenge uses cross-agency data

NASA recently announced a new challenge focusing on coastal flooding to encourage entrepreneurs, technologists, and developers to create visualizations and simulations that will help people understand their exposure to coastal-inundation hazards and other vulnerabilities.

The challenge will be included as part of the third annual International Space Apps Challenge, which will be held from April 11-13. It was developed by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is based on cross-agency data.

The aim of the Coastal Inundation in Your Community challenge is to create tools and provide information so communities can prepare for coastal catastrophes.

“Solutions developed through this challenge could have many potential impacts,” said NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. "This includes helping coastal businesses determine whether they are currently at risk from coastal inundation and whether they will be impacted in the future by sea level rise and coastal erosion."

Many federal data sets are now available that illustrate the hazards of coastal inundation. As part of the Climate Data Initiative, the government has gathered data sets related to coastal vulnerability and the impact of future climate changes on flooding. The data sets will be available on climate.data.gov.

The data comes from NOAA, NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the departments of Commerce and Defense as well as from New York and New Jersey. 

The purpose of the larger International Space Apps Challenge is to contribute to space exploration missions and improve life on earth. Participants introduce these solutions by developing mobile apps, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions. They will have access to over 200 data sources, including data sets, data services and tools.

The challenge will be hosted at 100 locations over six different continents. 

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:40 AM0 comments


Group seeks tech-based solutions to sticky government issues

Got an idea for using technology to make government run better? It could win you $10,000 from the 2014 Better Government Competition.

The Better Government Competition is a project of the Pioneer Institute, a non-profit and non-partisan research organization focused on improving public policy in Massachusetts. Ideas and innovations from the federal level are welcome, however, particularly when focused on information-sharing, fraud detection, reducing energy costs or streamlining agencies' reporting, licensing and regulatory processes. The focus of this year's contest is "leveraging technology to transform the public sector." Potential areas to address include:

  • Improving information-sharing between federal, state, and local governments.
  • Detecting and prevention of fraud in public benefits programs and the improvement of administration and oversight of such programs, resource and referral practices, identity verification, and cybersecurity.
  • Reducing the administrative burden and expense of complying with government reporting, licensing,
  • Addressing traffic congestion problems that affect all major cities in the United States with intelligent traffic solutions.
  • Reducing energy costs incurred by government agencies.
  • Using technology in education from virtual classrooms to technology for school safety measures, administrative work, and CORI checks
  • Improving wireless communications for law enforcement and health care  providers.

The deadline is fast approaching; submissions in the form of short "idea papers" must be received by April 16. And determining what your ethics officer thinks of such a contest is up to you!

Posted on Apr 09, 2014 at 11:22 AM0 comments


DARPA office to grow defense technologies with biology

Biology is taking its place among future defense technologies with a new DARPA office called the Biological Technology Office. It will apply the tools of engineering and related disciplines to biological systems to design next-generation technologies.

BTO will explore the intersection of biology with the other physical sciences to develop technology for U.S. national security, according to a DARPA statement. Its programs will operate across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These include from individual cells to humans and other organisms and the communities in which they operate, and “from the time it takes for a nerve to fire to the time it may take a new virus to spread around the world one sneeze at a time,” the agency said.

The office will continue the work of the agency’s Defense Sciences Office and Microsystem Technology Office in fields such as neuroscience, sensor design, microsystems and computer science.

“The Biological Technologies Office will advance and expand on a number of earlier DARPA programs that made preliminary inroads into the bio-technological frontier,” said Geoff Ling, the first director of BTO. “We’ve been developing the technological building blocks, we’ve been analyzing our results, and now we’re saying publicly to the research and development community, ‘We are ready to start turning the resulting knowledge into practical tools and capabilities.”

The BTO will concentrate on three research goals:

Restore and maintain warfighter abilities. BTO seeks new discoveries that help maintain peak warfighter abilities and heal injured service members through autonomous diagnostics and new therapies as well as advanced prosthetics and neural interfaces.

Harness biological systems. BTO seeks to uncover and apply rules governing biological systems to engineering new systems and products with novel materials and functionality.

Apply biological complexity at scale. BTO will also investigate the complexity and living-system dynamics of biological systems with the goal of developing applications to improve health, understand disease migration and secure food sources. 

Posted on Apr 03, 2014 at 11:12 AM0 comments


Simulation and Game Institute opens at GMU

With the rise of experimentation in “serious gaming,” George Mason University and Prince William County opened the new Simulation and Game Institute  on the school’s Prince William campus last week.

A public-private partnership in game design and simulation, SGI is the only institution of its kind on the East Coast, and one of only four global affiliated facilities focused on entrepreneurship into serious gaming. The facility offers high-quality game design, research and development, simulation and game training and certification in addition to visualization and simulation software and rapid-prototyping development.

“The world is changing quickly. In the innovation economy, “high value industries of the mind” are creating the well-paid jobs of the future,” George Mason CEO Dr. Annie Hunt Burriss said. “Together, George Mason University and Prince William County, with our community partners, are creating a great new industry and jobs that Americans want.”

The George Mason University foundation secured the institute’s establishment in October 2013 with $32,000 from the Prince William County Economic Development Opportunity Fund. Companies chosen to reside at the institute will receive business assistance services from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

Posted on Apr 02, 2014 at 11:33 AM0 comments


Penn State to auction its intellectual property online

Penn State will hold an auction for intellectual property, where winners will receive licensing rights to patents derived from faculty research in the College of Engineering, according to a university statement.

The auction will be the first of its kind in the United States to be directly overseen by a university, and will take place from March 31 to April 11. University officials believe this auction will be the first of many.

“Penn State and other research universities typically have IP that has been marketed by their tech transfer offices but for a variety of reasons has not been picked up by a commercial entity and therefore sits on the proverbial shelf,” said Penn State Associate Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer Ron Huss. “This auction is an effort to get our IP off of the shelf and in the hands of companies that can use the technology, at very favorable terms and price points. The buyers get the rights to use the IP, and the University gets a financial return. It's a win-win situation.”

The Intellectual Property Auction Website -- I-PAW -- is now accessible at http://patents.psu.edu/ so that interested parties can view available IP, create an account and pre-register for the auction.

But selling patents is not the sole purpose of the auction. Penn State Interim Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey said the idea was chosen in part to raise awareness of the University’s licenses whose commercial applications could prove extremely valuable.

There will be about 70 engineering patents available for auction in fields such as acoustics, fuel cells and sensors. Many of the required minimum bids will be around $5,000. Beyond the patents currently on auction, users can browse Penn State invention patents that are available for licensing through the Office of Technology Management.

Posted on Apr 01, 2014 at 10:07 AM0 comments