Net-centric warfare gets lucky

Army-run slot machines located around the globe are going online.

The Army Recreation Machine Program is deploying a virtual private network and remote monitoring software to oversee gaming and cash machines located at 120 recreational centers throughout Europe and Asia.

'Our work force is relatively small, and yet we have a huge number of systems that we're monitoring,' said Mike Kuiper, an IT specialist for the center. The center has only two support personnel for all of Europe, and two for Asia.

The VPN has been extended to 50 locations and will eventually connect 120 installations, from Europe and the Far East to the United States.

The network will funnel operational and transactional data from the centers to the program's Fort Carson, Colo., headquarters. The program is leasing commercial circuits and using VPN equipment from SonicWall Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif.

The slot machines are part of a larger initiative of the Army Community and Family Support Center to provide recreation on military installations for service members, retirees and contractors, who are often stationed in remote locations. In addition to gaming centers, the office also provides golf courses, libraries and automotive repair facilities.

The gaming machines, all located outside the United States, accept payments with smart cards, which are distributed at the recreational centers. Each center has a number of servers running software from Grips Gmbh of Graz, Austria, that monitors each machine. Fort Carson monitors information on each of these servers with Unicenter software from Computer Associates Inc.

'We're collecting a stream of data from machines, including the card dispensers and cash dispensers,' Kuiper said. 'So all that information comes back up, and we analyze it for potential fraud or problems with the system.'

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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