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
Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA), which licenses nearly 1 million professionals, will now offer online list sales of its licensees.
Last year, list sales generated close to $250,000 in revenue for the state, but the process of getting these lists to buyers was difficult. Lists had to be ordered by email and paid for in advance by check. Then the BPOA staff had to contact each purchaser to get preferred search criteria for a database query before emailing out the final list.
The new system allows list buyers to purchase a licensee list by filling out an online form. Once the payment process is complete, a receipt and a comma-delimited list are sent to buyer via email.
The state expects the online service to increase government transparency while saving taxpayer dollars.
"By allowing the public to order, pay for and generate lists online, staff costs will be kept to a minimum," said Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés. "This is all part of our goal of leveraging technology to provide better customer service and, in the process, realize cost savings. The goal is to be more efficient and user-friendly."
As part of the same wave of technology upgrades, Letters of Good Standing for any licensee can also be requested online.
Posted on Jul 20, 2015 at 2:22 PM0 comments
The Network Mapping System (NeMS), developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been licensed for commercialization. The software-based tool that tells users what is connected to their network so that they know what needs to be protected has been licensed to Cambridge Global Advisors, an Arlington, Va.-based strategic advisory services firm.
NeMS is the third technology to successfully emerge from the Department of Homeland Security's Transition to Practice program and enter the commercial market. The program is run by DHS' Science and Technology Directorate.
“TTP’s goal is to find technologies with the potential to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity posture and assist those technologies in making the difficult journey from the research lab to the commercial marketplace,” said TTP Program Manager Mike Pozmantier.
Now in its third year, TTP has 24 that are ready for transition to the marketplace. Of those 24, three technologies—Quantum Secured Communication, Hyperion and now NeMS – have successfully transitioned into the marketplace through commercial licenses.
Posted on Jul 20, 2015 at 10:21 AM0 comments
NIST has proposed two new building blocks to improve email security and to provide security services based on personal identity verification (PIV) credentials through mobile devices.
The building blocks cover cybersecurity implementations that apply to multiple industry sectors and will be incorporated into many of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence’s sector-specific use cases. Final versions of the building blocks result in NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guides (Special Publication series 1800), which describe the practical steps needed to implement a cybersecurity reference design.
The draft building block "Domain Name System-Based Security for Electronic Mail" proposes using the DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE) protocol to help prevent unauthorized parties from reading or modifying an organization's email or using it as a vector for malware.
The draft building block "Derived Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Credentials" proposes a way for mobile devices to use two-factor authentication without specialized card readers, which read the identity credentials embedded in on-card computer chips to ensure authorized access to computer systems or facilities. With derived credentials, mobile device users could get the same level of security with their mobile devices that desktop users get with card-reader access.
The comment period for each is open until Aug. 14, 2015.
Posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 1:00 PM0 comments
Although the explosion of the SpaceX rocket in late June grounded the NASA/Microsoft Sidekick project for the time being, the partners still hope to get the HoloLens augmented reality system to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station to give them Earth-bound expert assistance when and where they need it and reduce crew training requirements.
Sidekick works in two different ways, expert mode and procedure mode. Expert mode uses Skype to show an operator on Earth what ISS crew members sees, allowing the earthbound expert to coach them through tasks with real-time guidance or drawn annotations, rather than relying on written or voice instructions. Procedure mode uses holographic illustrations displayed on top of objects being used by the crew.
Sidekick will be used and evaluated in NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20 expedition in July when a group of astronauts and engineers will spend two weeks living in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station.
The project is part of a bigger part of a larger NASA/Microsoft partnership to explore applications of holographic computing in space. Another program, known as OnSight, will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using the HoloLens technology.
Posted on Jul 06, 2015 at 10:38 AM0 comments