Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


What’s cooking at 18F

18F is the digital services group in the General Services Administration, whose goal is to promote innovation among agencies by creating and sharing open source applications specific to government. Some of its recent work, posted to Github, includes the following:

dodsbir-scrape is a python module for extracting DOD Small Business Innovation Research topics from http://dodsbir.net. It can get a list of topic numbers and solicitation information, get the topic from topic number or get all topics and save as a JSON file. So far, the scraper doesn't retrieve questions and answers associated with topics.

Communicart combines the features of a shopping cart with the those of an informal email conversation to create a permanent, searchable, archived record of why a particular group of objects was purchased and who approved this purchase. It is an effort to empower P-Card holders and GSA Advantage users to purchase as efficiently and effectively as possible. More on Communicart.

Code Talker is intended to power sites and applications that use various procurement codes for federal solicitations and support industry and government interactions. In one demo of the tool, it lets users find NAICS codes that match keyword descriptions, which could help business owners in categorizing their businesses.

Beckley is a search index and API server for anyone requiring basic, fast search of highly curated content. Named after John Beckley, the first Librarian of Congress, the idea is to allow non-developers to easily create a list of URLs and related info to be included in a siloed search index.

PriceHistoryGUI allows government buyers to research actual prices paid in order to lower the price they pay for goods and services. Individual transactions can be selected by "drag 'n drop" into portfolios, which can then be imported into a text editor to document market research. Within the federal government, this software uses data which is not available for public usage, but the code is in the public domain. 

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 at 12:24 PM0 comments


Network forensics enhances Army NIE

At the latest Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), a Defense Department field evaluation of new technologies, the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (USAEPG) provided a network forensics team that made a positive impact on network troubleshooting, reliability and network protection, the Army reported.

According to Ed D. Watt, an Army civilian and project engineer with USAEPG, network forensics offers network operators and systems administrators the ability to monitor network traffic and data in real time. This helps IT professionals establish a baseline normal network, and identify network issues quickly, like improperly configured or failing equipment and unauthorized use.

Network forensics, though relatively new, is increasingly becoming the tool of choice on civilian and corporate networks, offering not only network tuning, but intrusion detection, the Army said. Considered a proactive network protection, it allows network operators to identify unusual network traffic and respond to compromised systems well ahead of more traditional means of detection, like antivirus.

"When you start cleaning up the small things, the network gets better, data goes faster, all of a sudden, it's a force multiplier," Watt said, referring to the value of an efficient network for military operations.

The network forensics team provided support to all NIE participants, in essence creating a help desk-like support element for the event. Participants also asked the network forensics team for assistance in characterizing or optimizing their respective network, whether carrying data or voice, at the tactical or operational levels. The team responded to nearly 100 requests for assistance, all with successful outcomes.

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM0 comments


Los Alamos unleashes HPC for unclassified research

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently announced it had installed a new high-performance computer system, called Wolf, which will be used for unclassified research.

Wolf, manufactured by Cray Inc., has 616 compute nodes – each with two 8-core 2.6 GHz Intel Sandybridge processors, 64 GB of memory and a high speed Infiniband interconnect network. It uses the Lab’s existing Panasas parallel file system as well as a new one based on Lustre technology and will run at 197 teraflops per second.

“This machine modernizes our mid-tier resources available to Laboratory scientists,” said Bob Tomlinson, of the Laboratory’s High Performance Computing group. “Wolf is a critical tool that can be used to advance many fields of science.”

Initial science research projects to use Wolf include climate, materials and astrophysics modeling.

The Lab’s Institutional Computing program provides production-computing resources for open and collaborative science at the laboratory through a competitive, peer-reviewed proposal process. Los Alamos scientists use these systems for fundamental as well as applied research in a wide variety of technical fields.

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 at 11:15 AM0 comments


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