Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


NGA posts open gamification software to GitHub

NGA posts open gamification software to GitHub

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently released open-source gamification software to GitHub, the collaborative software development environment.

The gamification-server software tracks gamification elements (badges, points, tags) for work pages or apps and provides a framework for providing awards/points to users or teams. It can run either standalone or integrated with other web-based applications.

"Government game development efforts are exponentially on the rise today,” said NGA director Robert Cardillo in the agency’s announcement. “The current generation of professionals is discovering the collaborative learning power of using games in standard business practices, and the newer generation is already familiar with how these new technologies are powerful learning tools.”

Hawaii, in fact, recently incorporated gaming principles and technologies into the state’s website. As a result, overall adoption of online services is up as much as 20 percent. 

NGA’s gamification software also provides a customizable web interface for displaying badges and a configurable rules engine that translates actions performed by users into awards, said Ray Bauer, an NGA information technology innovation lead.

“The use of badging and awards recognizes what achievements matter most based on agency priorities, and rewards the user in the context of their work,” said Bauer.

Implemented as a django python web service and associated web application, the gamification-server provides a customizable web interface for displaying badges as well as a configurable rules engine to translate actions performed by users into awards, according to the GitHub posting. User awards can be exported into an Open Badges Backpack, allowing users to present expertise gained within other social frameworks or applications.

The software is designed so that other sites can send in "signals" that are parsed through a rules engine and generate points and badges. Also, other sites and apps can pull in JSON to list badges that a user has.

NGA launched its GitHub account in April 2014 and has released eight open source software packages on the platform, including:

  • GeoQ allows teams to collect geographic structured observations across a large area, but manage the work in smaller geographic regions.
  • RFI generator helps first responders and analysts at headquarters work with Requests for Information within a geospatial context. 
  • GeoWave provides geospatial and temporal indexing on top of Accumulo.
  • Disconnected Interactive Content Explorer apps for iOS, Android, and Windows that allows users to load interactive content generated in HTML, CSS, and Javascript to a mobile device so the device can display interactive content without a network connection.

Posted on Oct 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM0 comments


National Weather Service

NWS powers up faster, more detailed weather forecasts

The National Weather Service recently activated a system that quickly harnesses weather data from multiple sources, integrates the information and provides a detailed picture of the current weather.

The Multiple Radar Multiple Sensor (MRMS) system combines data streams from multiple radars, satellites, surface observations, upper air observations, lightning reports, rain gauges and numerical weather prediction models to produce a suite of decision-support products every two minutes, according to the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Because it provides better depictions of high-impact weather events, forecasters can quickly diagnose severe weather and issue more accurate and earlier forecasts for communities and air traffic managers.

“MRMS uses a holistic approach to merging multiple data sources, allowing forecasters to better analyze data and potentially make better predictions,” said Ken Howard, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory who helped design MRMS. “It was developed in collaboration with NOAA’s National Weather Service hydrologists and forecasters who tested experimental versions and provided valuable input and feedback.”

MRMS data are also an input into the newly launched High-Resolution Rapid Refresh weather model, which lets forecasters pinpoint neighborhoods under severe weather threats and warn residents hours before a storm hits. It will also help forecasters provide more information to air traffic managers and pilots about hazards such as air turbulence and thunderstorms.

MRMS is being used to develop and test new Federal Aviation Administration NextGen products in addition to advancing techniques in quality control, icing detection, and turbulence.

NOAA researchers developed the MRMS system in cooperation with the University of Oklahoma’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, and the software is available for government at no cost.

Posted on Oct 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM0 comments


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