Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


NYC kicks off annual BigApps competition

NYC kicks off annual BigApps competition

New York City recently opened this year’s NYC BigApps competition for  mobile and web apps, connected devices, platforms, games and other technology products that can make New York a better place by addressing affordable housing, zero waste, connected cities or civic engagement.

To support app developers, the competition provides access to more than 1,000 public data sets on the NYC OpenData Portal, as well as data and APIs from dozens of private and academic partners. In addition, each challenge category is being supported by a group of city agencies, civic organizations and companies that will help teams ideate, design and build their products by hosting mentor office hours, events and tours.

All project submissions are due by Oct. 14. A panel of evaluators will choose up to 20 finalists, and the winners will be announced in December.

Originally launched in 2009, NYC BigApps has helped create over 500 apps and other tech products and has engaged more than 500,000 New Yorkers.

Posted on Jul 30, 2015 at 1:24 PM0 comments


Need to know if your neighbor's a felon? In Tennessee, there's an app for that

The Tennessee Department of Correction has launched a Felony Offender Search app that lets citizens look up information about past and present felons in the state from their mobile devices.

The app’s web-based companion, Felony Offender Information Look Up, is one of the state’s most used online services, with 2.5 million searches in 2014. With nearly a third of TN.gov visitors using mobile devices, state officials decided creating a mobile version of the program was an opportunity to deliver a more customer-focused tool for citizens.

Users can access an offender’s current status, location, sentencing dates and parole eligibility, and even create their own lists for faster access to information about specific offenders.

The Tennessee Felony Offender Search mobile app is available for free for both Apple and Android users.

Posted on Jul 30, 2015 at 11:41 AM0 comments


Military boosts bandwidth with satellite launch

Military boosts bandwidth with satellite launch

The military and its partners can expect  a nearly 20 percent boost in secure communications bandwidth, thanks to the launch of WGS-7, Boeing’s latest Wideband Global SATCOM satellite.

Boeing is contracted to deliver 10 WGS satellites in all to the U.S. Air Force, and promises even greater bandwidth improvements. Starting with WGS-8, which is slated for a late-2016 launch, each wideband satellite will include a Next Generation Wideband Digital Channelizer, which will provide a more than 90 percent improvement in available satellite bandwidth. The first six WGS satellites are on-orbit and performing as expected, and Boeing said WGS-7 "sent its first successful signals soon after being launched" on July 22.

These satellites, which enable streaming and two-way video, are also capable of providing anti-jamming to soldiers around the world in highly contested areas.  “WGS has the ability to shape some of its beams to a specific communications area on the globe," said Mark Spiwak, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International.  "It also has the ability to move and pivot its communications beams to be able to follow communications users or to avoid jamming."

Posted on Jul 29, 2015 at 9:28 AM0 comments


Boston commits $3.5 million to next-generation firewall

Boston commits $3.5 million to next-generation firewall

Boston has never had a large-scale data breach or cyberattack, but the city is not waiting around for it to happen.

In an effort to defend against future attacks, the city is committing $3.5 million to develop a next-generation firewall system. The firewall will be ready by the end of the year, according to the Boston Herald, but the plan is to continue to bolster security efforts through 2020.

In addition to the firewall, the city is also preparing for contingencies that could threaten systems and utilities – like the loss of power that led to parts of the Boston Fire Department network going offline. Backup generators prevented the power loss from becoming serious.

“There’s a lot of ongoing work that we have around identifying any place within our technology infrastructure where we think we have got a vulnerability or a system that we don’t think has the right kind of redundancy,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s CIO, told the Herald.

Posted on Jul 28, 2015 at 6:53 AM0 comments


An MCU could be mounted in this kind of vehicle

FirstNet foresees in-vehicle units for remote comm

One of the challenges for FirstNet, the nationwide LTE public safety broadband network, will be providing coverage for responders in remote locations or otherwise out of range of terrestrial coverage.

Current alternatives include using balloons or drones to construct an aerial communications architecture and portable cellular networks that connect responders to FirstNet.

One of the latest concepts for coverage extension, however, is the Mobile Communications Unit (MCU), a satellite-based communications system that could be installed in responder vehicles to give responders wireless capabilities when they are outside of terrestrial network coverage.

According to a blog post by the FirstNet Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the MCU could automatically act like a remote base station to other users, coordinating communications if the size of the incident expands or if additional first responders are needed.

The MCU could automatically switch from the terrestrial network modem to a satellite modem and  use in-vehicle routers and rugged antennas that could withstand extreme environmental conditions. New satellite technologies can improve some of the performance, physical installation, and cost of including a satellite option, FirstNet said.  

While MCU is still a concept, FirstNet is researching deployable platforms and working to ensure that the MCU is prioritized as appropriate to support commercial availability of this critical platform.

Posted on Jul 27, 2015 at 11:14 AM0 comments