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Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

The city of Seattle, known for its innovation, is trying to live up to its reputation with its Technology Matching Fund to provide capital for innovative ideas for improving city services and public access to digital resources.

This year the city has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The city is looking to support projects that, “increase technology literacy, provide access to computers, the Internet and other information technologies and increase civic participation in the use of technology,” according to a notice in Brainstorm, the city government’s community technology e-zine.

Award recipients will be those whose ideas will improve digital equity by “connecting traditionally underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation,” according to the city. 

Established in 1997, the fund was originally intended to “to support the community's efforts to close the digital divide and encourage a technology-healthy city.” 

Past ideas that received funding include projects providing basic technology skills to low income households, upgrading computer labs for senior citizens to provide Internet and Facebook training, assistive technology for people with disabilities and providing online job search and computer training to help immigrants obtain jobs. 

Seattle also offers funding opportunities for school-based projects, though  they must come from proposals by parent-teacher-student groups as schools are not allowed to apply directly.  If awarded to a school-oriented project,  the funds will only go to after school events and projects. 

Meanwhile, the city has launched a digital equity initiative to improve computer skills and online services for Seattle residents. In the next few months, the city said it will seek input from experts and community members to draft a plan for the program.

“As a city, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 at 12:23 PM0 comments


GSA seeks .gov TLD management solutions

General Services Administration officials are looking for ways to keep its .gov program adaptable to evolving uses of the Internet and its domain system..

GSA released a request for information to learn about solutions, best practices, and on-going approaches to perform all aspects of top-level domain (TLD) Internet registration service for federal, state, local governments through the agency’s secure website DOTGOV.gov

The GSA has been managing registrations for the .gov domain since it was delegated to the agency by the National Science Foundation in 1997.

Prospective  solutions should include electronic processing of requests, an electronic payment processing mechanism that collects payments, and a function that provides ad hoc reporting to GSA. Helpdesk support, a Domain Name Service Security program, and a secure database to store and manage important information retrieved during the registration process are also requested.

As GSA officials see it, the solution would build upon the existing .gov framework and would require a zone file of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 active, second-level domain registrations. They also want a solution that is scalable, because they anticipate an annual 5-percent growth of registrations and data. For a five-year contract, the overall growth would reach an estimated 25 percent.

Responses are due by March 23.

This article originally appeared on WashingtonTechnology, a sister site to GCN.

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 at 2:36 PM0 comments


NORTHCOM seeks disaster sim, with social component

The 24/7 social news stream has added a layer of complexity to disaster response. Agencies providing disaster relief services are now working in an increasingly changing media landscape in which they must not only meet the needs of the mission but also manage the flow of information about the response efforts.

To address training needs for both disaster response and managing the message, the U.S.  Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command issued a sources sought solicitation for an off-the-shelf customizable disaster management modeling and simulation (M&S) tool along with a social media emulation platform that will support exercises and training.

In the notice, NORTHCOM said that it expects to use the system for exercises focusing on M&S alone, the M&S in parallel with social media emulation or M&S where social media is an integrated capability. Furthermore, the disaster management platforms must be integrated and able to exchange database and mapping information, the notice said.

NORTHCOM expects potential sources to establish an “Exercise Social Media Web Portal,” which would be a password-protected website where trainers could upload and stream videos, print stories, photographs, blogs and other posts that “look and function like current, relevant mainstream and social media sites but which are isolated from the emulated real-world media sites.”  The portal also must be able to manage up to 1,200 accounts with various permissions levels and be able to post social media content to sites approximating Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger.

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 at 11:31 AM0 comments


Secure browsing, messaging skyrockets after high-profile hacks

Secure browsing, messaging skyrockets after high-profile hacks

Secure browsing topped a list of the most activated mobile applications  in the last year, according to a report by enterprise mobile management firm Good Technology, which estimated that secure browsing rose 197 percent quarter over quarter and was the most activated app in 2014, increasing tenfold.

Citing the catastrophic damage from the hacking at the U.S. Central Command, the Sony Studio attacks and a recent breach in 30 banks in over 100 countries, Good said enterprise demand for secure mobile browsing was accelerating and with it an interest in overall app security.

“With the rapid ascent of these attacks, [organizations] of all sizes are investing in and activating mobile apps that have been designed for security from the inside out,” according to the company’s Mobile Index Report for Q4 of 2014.

 “A secure browser reduces the risk on mobile devices, where traditional anti-malware and firewall solutions are typically not in place,” the report added.

In addition to secure browsing, secure instant messaging also rose, with a 131 percent jump last quarter and a nine-fold increase throughout the year, according to the report.

Good CEO and chairman Christy Wyatt acknowledged that the end user is “often the weakest link in any security model.”  As a result, it’s critical that enterprise IT managers ensure that “employees, customers and partners are using secure-based apps across mobile workflows is [to build] cyber resiliency,” she said.

Good also announced new products, including support for user access to enterprise apps via the Apple Touch ID feature on iOS devices. With IT department enablement, users can access any Good-secured app using their fingerprints on Apple smartphones and tablets without affecting Good's container security. This feature might be especially useful in the public sector where adoption of iOS devices is greater. iOS makes up 82 percent of devices in the public sector, Good said, possibly because of the perception of security issues across the fragmented Android landscape.

The company also said it would provide secure data and content access on wearable devices through the Good Dynamics Platform. The platform secures business data stored on wearables and shared between other Good secured apps.

Posted on Mar 09, 2015 at 1:46 PM0 comments


DHS offers prize for indoor tracking tech

When firefighters or police enter a building, the rest of their team often has no way to track them. If the building is filled with smoke, the responder himself may not even know where he is.

The difficulty of tracking responders indoors is exacerbated if radio communications are poor or non-existent. And current solutions based on GPS technology don’t work well for indoor tracking because of weak signals and the difficulty of penetrating buildings.

In an effort to crack the problem, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate announced the “Where am I, Where is my Team?” prize for developing personalized, modular and scalable approaches to track first responders indoors.  Submissions should consist of a concept/design for a low cost, robust, real-time indoor tracking capability using current and emerging technologies, sensors and techniques, DHS said.

Ideally, a winning solution will be wearable, and able to self-report real-time x, y, z positioning, according to DHS. Additionally it should be “mission-agnostic,” meaning it could be used by law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services and/or emergency management.

“Indoor tracking is a critical need for first responders,” said Dr. Robert Griffin, DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology and former firefighter and emergency manager. “When a firefighter runs into a burning building or when law enforcement raids a warehouse, incident commanders need to maintain situational awareness of the locations of team members.”

The total cash prize payout for this competition is $25,000, consisting of a first place award of $20,000 and a second place award of $5,000.

To submit ideas, the public can register at https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933726. Winning submissions may be selected for development and operational use. All submissions must be received by April 2, 2015. More information is available in the Federal Register.

Posted on Mar 05, 2015 at 12:40 PM0 comments