Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


FCC sets timetable for text-to-911

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules requiring text messaging providers to enable Americans to text 911 in an emergency. The new rules will ensure that all remaining wireless carriers and certain IP-based text application providers are prepared to support text-to-911 by the end of the year. After that time, if a 911 call center requests text-to-911, text messaging providers will have six months to deploy the service in that area.

According to the FCC, these rules will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate.

The Commission’s text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers (i.e., those that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers). This includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers. It does not include messaging apps that only support communications among users of games or social media, the FCC said.

Although text-to-911 availability is currently limited, it is rapidly expanding. More than one hundred 911 call centers serving portions of 16 states and two entire states (Vermont and Maine) are now accepting emergency texts. Text messaging providers are required to send an automatic “bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 911 where the service is not available.

Text-to-911 can provide a lifesaving alternative in a number of different situations, such as when a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech disability is unable to make a voice call. The service can also help where voice networks are congested; or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller, according to the FCC.

The Commission also wants comment on the continued evolution of text-to-911, including delivering texts to appropriate 911 public safety answering points as well as on proposals to improve text-to-911 service, such as through better location information and roaming support.

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


Ohio moves on statewide IT consolidation

The state of Ohio is spending $62 million to consolidate legacy information technology systems across its state government agencies, according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.

The project, which would centralize about 9,000 servers and 30 smaller data centers across 26 state agencies, is estimated to save $150 million, according to the report.

In December 2013, the state released its Consolidated IT Transformation Approach, which describes the strategy and implementation plans, which fall into three focus areas:

Private cloud expansion, which involves the consolidation, standardization and integration of the state’s highly distributed technical infrastructure into a centrally managed environment.

Enterprise shared solutions, which will provide a platform for common service application development.

Online government services that will deliver citizen-facing tools citizens to improve government-citizen interaction.

The state’s controlling board recently made a down payment on the project, approving a $62 million expenditure to get the project rolling.

The collaborative effort is expected to take five to seven years, a calculation taking into account the length of time state agencies have spent building-up their individual IT stovepipes.

The decision to begin funding the project raised questions by state legislators who asked whether taxpayers might be paying twice for the new systems.

“I don’t see the agencies standing behind you saying, ‘Take $62 million out of my budget,’ ” said one legislator,  who asked for reports on how the project would  produce savings.

However, Jennifer Leymaster, the Administrative Services’ agency chief financial officer, told legislators that funds for the money was in agency budgets, according to the report.

“This is a better way to run the state’s information technology business,” the Dispatch quoted Leymaster as saying. “We're not doing it 26 ways, but having one agency provide services.”

The consolidation will lead to the creation of 132 information technology positions, to be filled with workers from other agencies. However, the state expects eventually to cut the number of employees in technology jobs by 400 through attrition, the Dispatch reported.

Posted on Aug 08, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


University of Maryland opens UAS test site

The University of Maryland has launched an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site in southern Maryland. With support from the University System of Maryland, the site will bring together leaders in academia, industry and government to accelerate UAS research.

Based in St. Mary’s County, a few miles from Naval Air Warfare Center Aviation Division at Patuxent River and the Naval Air Systems Command headquarters, the UMD UAS test site has been set up as a catalyst for research and development, according to its sponsors.

The test site is part of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, in concert with Virginia and New Jersey, under the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Test Site program, and will help the FAA integrate UAS into the national airspace.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, who represents the district in which UMD and the UAS test site are located, said, “With Patuxent River Naval Air Station serving as a premier facility for research, development, testing, and evaluation, our region is already a hub for aviation innovation, and today’s launch of the UAS test site will put southern Maryland at the forefront of integrating unmanned autonomous systems into our national airspace.”

Managed by UMD’s Clark School of Engineering, the test will also create and deliver products and programs in support of workforce development and higher education goals.

“I am pleased that the University of Maryland, College Park will manage the site, and that its educational value extends to all University System of Maryland faculty, staff and students, as well as K-12 students throughout the state,” said Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan of the University System of Maryland.

The test site will serve as a hub for the University System of Maryland, government, and industry to address issues related to UAS technology and policy, and will provide new opportunities for those in the region.

“This new addition to the St. Mary’s County Technology Corridor is the first step toward a larger autonomous research initiative in the region,” said Maryland Delegate John Bohanan, who advocated for the establishment of the UMD UAS Test Site since the idea was conceived. “The test site represents the next big transformation of our Southern Maryland economy, and will offer up new job opportunities for Maryland residents.”

“Our existing relationship with the University of Maryland serves as the foundation of this new test site,” said Vice Admiral David Dunaway, commander of NAVAIR. “The sharing of human capital and expertise from the university, government, and industry will be a conduit for technology transfer, and the overall betterment of national security.”

Matt Scassero, a former Navy captain who helped lead the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, is Director of the new UMD UAS Test Site.

Posted on Aug 07, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


Wanted: Innovation fellows for San Francisco

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation has openings for two new Mayor’s Innovation Fellows.  

The one-year program seeks to leverage entrepreneurial minds from all sectors to help San Francisco tackle challenging civic issues. During the fellowship year, particpants will have an opportunity to manage projects several areas including open data and standards, workforce innovation for low-income San Francisco residents and data-driven financial management.

The program is designed primarily for individuals with 5-8 years of private-sector experience in technology and innovation fields. The deadline has been extended to Aug. 22, 2014.

More information is available from the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.

Posted on Aug 06, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


VDI eases state and local agencies' foray into mobility

A new survey from the Mobile Work exchange found that while mobile use is growing in state and local government agencies, barriers still exist to wider implementation.

The survey, State and Local Mobility Map: Road to Mobile Readiness, found that the 58 percent of the survey’s  respondents said their agency does not provide plans, tools and support necessary to manage a mobile workforce.  Still, 40 percent of state and local employees use a mobile device for work-related tasks, with that number expected to increase in the next five years.

While the IT managers surveyed cited security and budget barriers to more mobility, 62 percent said their agency had adopted a virtual desktop infrastructure to support mobile workers because a VDI lets remote workers all use the same operating system, and it standardizes security configuration and eases application upgrades.

Other mobility-enabling technologies cited include:

  • Encryption
  • Automatic software updates
  • Backup/restore
  • Mobile device management
  • Remote lock and wipe
  • Multifactor authentication

The “State & Local Mobility Map: Road to Mobile Readiness” report was commissioned by Citrix and reflects the input of 150 IT managers familiar with their organization’s mobile work style strategy and policies.

Posted on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:07 AM0 comments