Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Foreign Service seeks multi-language flashcard app

The State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is looking to supplement its classroom and online language training with a multi-language flashcard application that is cross-compatible on most major desktop, laptop and mobile environments used by its technologically diverse student community.

Because the institute has found electronic flashcards to be the most used and effective supplemental language training tool, FSI said it wants a feature-rich, multiplatform flashcard solution that allows students to study from a variety of devices.

In a sources sought notice, FSI said it seeks an app that lets both student and instructor create and manipulate content across a wide variety of activity types in a trackable format.  The tools should also support:

  • A minimum of 40 foreign (non-English) languages
  • Up to 5,000 users
  • Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS and HTML5-compatible browsers.
  • Tracking of learner progress
  • Synchronization across devices via Wi-Fi/Internet
  • Audio with native speaker/voice-recording
  • Online tech support

The RFI closing date is June 23, 2014.

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 at 7:50 AM0 comments


DARPA's Plan X tech visualizes battle's cyber effects

Three years after the Defense Department named cyberspace a new domain of warfare, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently discussed Plan X, its program to create revolutionary technologies to help the Defense Department plan for, conduct, and assess cyberwarfare like kinetic warfare.

Announced in May 2012, DARPA’s Plan X seeks “to make cyber operations tools and their capabilities more available to the common military, which right now doesn't have [such] cyber capabilities,” Plan X program manager Frank Pound told American Forces Press Service.  Additionally, the program aims to quantify cyber effects “so the military understands how [such effects] work and what the collateral damage could be,” Pound said.

Cyber effects are those resulting in damage from manipulating, disrupting, denying, degrading or destroying information, infrastructure or the data.

Another goal of Plan X is to provide cyber situational awareness globally across DOD from the strategic and tactical levels all the way down to the troops in the field.

“Right now, they don't have a good ability to sense the cyber environment, and … in the last five years, there's been a tidal wave of mobile devices and cyber things hitting the market,” Pound said. “Our adversaries use them to plan attacks, so Plan X at the tactical level would be able to provide that cyber situational awareness to commanders in the field.”

To enhance situational awareness, Plan X is testing two new technologies. One is an advanced three-dimensional mission-planning technology called a holographic touch table display.

DARPA’s touch table display uses advanced 3D technology to create a real-time, color, 360-degree, interactive 3D holographic display. The technology allows each 3D holographic object to project in each direction the same amount of light projected by an original object for 360-degree viewing.

The other Plan X technology recently displayed at DARPA demo day is a virtual-reality head-mounted display called the Oculus Rift, which puts warfighters in cyberspace and helps them track adversaries, friendly forces and mission resources. http://gcn.com/articles/2014/05/27/darpa-demo-day.aspx

The visualization environment of Plan X removes complexity from the interface and distills only information the operator would need to react to and counter an adversary's actions, Pound said. “Think of part of Plan X as like Google Earth or Google Maps. We want to make it that easy for the military to use -- to filter information and look at different routes and alternatives for routes and see where there's a lot of traffic, just like with Google maps,” he added.

Even though Plan X was announced in 2012, the program has suffered from sequestration-related budget cuts.  Still, Pound said, the program should transition to DOD and Cyber Command in October 2017.

Posted on Jun 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM0 comments


First overland UAS flight takes off

The FAA has begun to clear the way for domestic drones to operate lawfully across the United States.

Earlier this week it gave a green light to the first commercial operation of a unmanned aircraft system over land, and also granted Nevada a certificate of authority to begin operating a UAS test site in the United States.

Energy giant PB and UAS maker AeroVironment June 8 were granted permission to use the Puma AE drone to conduct a survey of BP pipelines, roads and equipment at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the largest oilfield in the United States.

AeroVironment made the first flight for BP June 8, the FAA announced.

“These surveys on Alaska’s North Slope are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The technology is quickly changing, and the opportunities are growing.”

AeroVironment’s Puma AE is a small, hand-launched UAS that is about 4 1/2 feet long with a wingspan of 9 feet. Using data generated by the Puma’s sensors, BP wants to target maintenance work on specific roads and infrastructure. BP said the application will save time and support safety and operational reliability goals.

Meanwhile the FAA granted the state of Nevada a certificate of authority to operate a UAS test site.

The state is one of six sites across the country that the FAA tapped to host one of the facilities. The others are at the University of Alaska; Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y.; the North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University's Corpus Christi campus; and Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The University of Alaska received its COA in early May and North Dakota received the first one in April.

The FAA said June 6 that it granted Nevada a two-year certificate of waiver or authorization to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport in Mercury.

The facility, according to the FAA, is owned and operated by the Department of Energy and is not for general use. The ScanEagle will fly at or below 3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander. Initial flights will verify that a UAS can operate safely at the airport, said FAA.

The Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development said in a June 6 statement that the unmanned aerial vehicle will be used for a first responder exercise in which the vehicle "will be 'eyes on scene' during a mock emergency exercise."

Posted on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:10 PM0 comments


US, Honduras to test hurricane response simulation

The United States and Honduras will put a mapping tool to the test this week designed to help government and non-government organizations (NGOs) improve situational awareness, locate supplies and react quickly during a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster.

The software, called GeoSHAPE, is an open source and open standard tool that integrates emergency data from multiple formats and displays it as an Internet-based map.

Juan Hurtado, a science advisor to the U.S. Southern Command, said GeoSHAPE, “bridges geospatial information sharing gaps we witnessed during the international response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, providing a tool for military and civil organizations, local and international, to efficiently coordinate their activities and, in turn, save more lives.”

The tool, which has been through a two-year development effort, will be tested this week during a simulated hurricane event across Central America. The multi-organizational role players will include Honduras’ Permanent Contingency Commission, the local Red Cross, NGO Plan Internacional and U.S. Joint Task Force-Bravo.

Components of GeoSHAPE include a Web-based platform for creating, and sharing geospatially tagged events and a mobile application for capturing data and photos in the field. The tools will help rescue organizations put together a picture of both the resources at hand and extent of the damage.

The availability of hospitals, helicopter landing zones, food, water and medical supplies as well as the deployment of rescue personnel to affected areas will be are plotted in a map authorized users can see from anywhere in the world. 

GeoSHAPE is part of a technology project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Emerging Capabilities and Prototyping.

After the demonstration and evaluation in Honduras, the software will be integrated with the Pacific Disaster Center’s DisasterAWARE platform, which provides continuously updated hazard information worldwide and functions as a hub for accessing, updating and sharing relevant data before, during and after a disaster. 

According to Hurtado, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance are only two potential applications for GeoSHAPE. It can also be used in situations where organizations need to share geospatial information, including  peacekeeping missions and border security.

Posted on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:16 AM0 comments


FAA details next steps in NextGen progress

The Federal Aviation Administration is “on cusp of finishing” several key programs that underpin NextGen, the agency’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, the agency said in its 2014 report on the project. NextGen aims to migrate America’s air traffic control system to smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and add new procedures that will make air travel more efficient, convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

In his first report to Congress since becoming chief NextGen officer one year ago, FAA deputy administrator Mike Whitaker detailed progress made toward completing the technological foundation that is bringing greater efficiency and predictability to the nation’s airspace system.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast. In March 2014, the FAA completed installing ground infrastructure for ADS-B, a new surveillance system that uses GPS signals to determine an aircraft’s location and delivers traffic, weather and flight information directly to the cockpits of properly equipped aircraft.  

En Route Automation Modernization. The FAA is on track to have all 20 en-route centers operating with ERAM, by the middle of 2015. ERAM will replace HOST, the computer system the FAA has been using to control traffic in high-altitude airspace since the 1970s.

Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement. By the end of 2016, the FAA expects to have made substantial progress deploying TAMR, a program that upgrades the automation platform used in FAA facilities that controls low-altitude traffic approaching and departing from airports.

“The FAA with NextGen is taking the next quantum leap in air traffic control,” Whitaker said in the FAA’s statement announcing the report.

“We have strengthened our partnerships with key stakeholders, coming to an agreement on a set of near-term capabilities that both the FAA and industry will concentrate on over the next three years. And we have concrete evidence that demonstrates how NextGen works for aviation and for America as a whole.”

With these technologies, the FAA said, airlines are saving time and fuel while reducing exhaust emissions. In the meantime, general aviation pilots are enjoying greater access to airports across the country – especially in bad weather – and air traffic controllers have new tools to help them make the critical decisions necessary to keep the world’s busiest and safest aviation system working as efficiently as possible.

Posted on Jun 09, 2014 at 10:57 AM1 comments