Buzz: FOSE 2007

Spotlight will be on enterprise mobility

"We know the world is going toward a more secure and authenticated model using smart cards." 'Michael Lazaridis, Research in Motion Ltd.

The ability of government workers to share information and collaborate in a secure, increasingly mobile environment will be the focus of many discussions and technology demonstrations at FOSE 2007.

Enterprise mobility is a concept that cuts across a swath of disciplines, including interagency communications, defense, health care, homeland security, emergency response operations and supply chain management.

The benefits of mobile computing are beginning to resonate throughout government, said Bill Hartwell, vice president of business and channel development with Motorola's Government Enterprise Mobility Solutions division.

Motorola is sponsoring the Enterprise Mobility Pavilion at FOSE 2007, where company officials plan to display cutting-edge technology developed by Motorola and its business partners. The tradeshow and conference, owned by GCN's parent company, 1105 Government Information Group, runs March 20-22 at the Washington Convention Center.

Living in a mobile world

Hartwell said the pavilion will showcase technology that could have broad use across the government sector.

'We wanted to go deep in four major solution areas,' he said:

  • Health care solutions, which will include applications for patient identification, pharmaceutical tracking and tracing, medication and blood administration, and specimen collection
  • Supply chain management, which includes technology for baggage screening and inventory tracking
  • Homeland security and law enforcement
  • Global enterprise solutions such as enterprise asset management, service maintenance and repair, inspection management and speech-to-speech translation software.

IBM Corp., SRA International Inc. and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will demonstrate speech-to-speech translation products on mobile computers and mobile rugged notebook PCs, Hartwell said.

Being able to communicate effectively with people from other cultures is a challenge, he said. The companies and agency will showcase technology that translates English to Arabic and Arabic to English. Versions are also being developed for Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

The software, which would be ideal for use by troops in Iraq, for example, runs on a rugged notebook using Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Mobile 5, depending on the device.

Motorola also will launch new radio frequency identification technology and very ruggedized mobile notebook PCs. The company will demonstrate how RFID can be used to authenticate government documents and combat counterfeiting, as well as track assets in supply chains.

Other cutting-edge technologies include a seamless, broadband mobile command vehicle geared toward first responders or emergency operations, Hartwell said.
A mobile variant of a virtual office, the vehicle will be equipped with the latest applications to show how mission-critical mobile data and video communications can be deployed to solve emergency response problems.

Disaster recovery also is a recurring theme that will be important, said Vic Berger, chief technologist with CDW Government Inc. The company will highlight a mix of storage tools, blade servers, and software and hardware virtualization products to keep agencies' operations running during a crisis.

Higher level of authentication

Agencies are moving toward a higher level of user authentication using smart cards to give employees and contractors secure access to government facilities and networked systems, said Michael Lazaridis, CEO at Research in Motion Ltd.
'We know the world is going toward a more secure and authenticated model using smart cards,' said Lazaridis, who will deliver a keynote address at FOSE and highlight two technological advancements.

One is RIM's BlackBerry Smart Card Reader, which uses wireless technology to connect to PCs. The reader can be worn on a lanyard and a user can put the card into the reader and initiate access to the PC and the BlackBerry handset. Devices lock up if the user moves out of range.

RIM also will show off the newest BlackBerry, the sleek 8800. Introduced at the end of February, 'it really is intended as our corporate government device,' Lazaridis said. 'We deliberately did not put a camera in the device. Most of the areas we sell into in the government, such as the military, you cannot have a camera.'

The 8800 also has a Global Positioning System. 'What is important is that the user is prompted if the GPS is to be activated or configured. So the user has complete control over his own personal security,' he said. 'You can imagine how useful the device can be in a situation where we really need to know where everybody is,' such as during an emergency.

Convergence gains steam

The continued convergence of voice, video and data networks will be an important topic at this year's FOSE, said Bruce Klein, vice president of federal operations at Cisco Systems Inc.

'You're now seeing video and video surveillance integrated into [networks] in this movement toward next-generation collaboration,' Klein said.

And those videoconferencing systems will offer more high-definition features, said Barry Morris, vice president of sales for Polycom Inc., a provider of video systems.

Cisco plans to showcase the company's TelePresence in-person videoconferencing capability at FOSE.

Agencies also are moving to 'improve collaboration and information sharing in a secure environment that is mobile,' Klein said.

For example, Air Force officials asked Cisco and Microsoft Corp. to develop an architecture that would enable the service to share information with coalition partners but grant access and permission rights only to information that each partner needs.

At FOSE, the two companies will demonstrate the Secure Information Sharing Architecture, a secure network that allows multiple groups to share information, but prevents them from gaining access to data that is not pertinent to their organizations.

Transition to IPv6

With the mandate for agencies to upgrade network backbones to IP Version 6 by 2008, agency officials are looking for assistance from vendors and professional service companies, experts said.

All the major systems vendors probably will showcase how their next-generation operating environments are IPv6 compatible, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc.

Agencies have begun to think about the move to IPv6, agreed Cisco's Klein. Cisco will display an assessment tool that IT administrators can deploy on their networks to determine what is IPv6-compatible and what isn't.

Klein expects to see more vendors and professional service companies form partnerships to provide tools for IPv6 training, helping customers to meet mandates.

Application security crucial

Encryption for notebook PCs is still on people's minds because of instances of lost or stolen notebooks that contained personal information.

But now there is a need to move beyond notebooks to encrypt data on hard drives, personal digital assistants and backup tapes, said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute.

One topic that should be big this year that wasn't last year is application security, Paller said. Products in this sector generally fall into four categories: Web application testing, Web application firewalls, code testers, and tools for testing programmers and consultants for secure coding skills. More than half of all security vulnerabilities are found in Web applications, Paller said.

Another emphasis at the show will be the need to run multiple levels of security in a single environment, said Bill Vass, Sun Microsystems Inc. vice president of federal sales. Software as a service will likely be another topic of conversation at FOSE, as agencies look for better ways to deliver software to end users, he said.

Laying the groundwork

Ultimately, FOSE 2007 will show how convergence is under way in the mobile computing arena, Hartwell said.

'You might need four or five different devices today' to perform several tasks, he noted. 'In the not too distant future, you'll have a mobile computer in your hand that will support voice and data capture. It could be your cell phone and, in some cases, your laptop. You'll have one device, and you won't need to carry your pager, laptop, PDA and cell phone. You can do all that on one mobile device,' he predicted.

Goundwork also is being laid for more seamless wireless connectivity. 'That is a very powerful story. You don't want people to lose connectivity as they move from indoors to outdoors,' he said.

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