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Fujitsu CAC reader

When it comes to technology, government is a unique animal

I'm recovering from the week spent at the FOSE trade show and have had a little time to reflect on all the great emerging technology I saw there. In case you missed it, we did our best to examine everything being displayed on the show floor this year and picked the technologies that impressed us most as being ready, and needed, for government service.

One thing that was obvious, probably to anyone who walked the show floor, was how different the government market is. I've been to a lot of shows, but FOSE always has a different type of product. Sure, there is going to be some gear there that could drop easily into the Consumer Electronics Show, but much less than you might think. With government, it's all about large enterprise operations, security and efficiency.

Take, for example, the Fujitsu booth. The company’s big display centered on a Common Access Card reader that has been added to both of its network scanners.  At a consumer show like CES, no one would notice it, as it would probably be sitting beside a 100-inch smart TV that was stealing all its buzz. The whole point of the display was that a CAC reader can now be added for about $500. Yet, there were so many people checking it out that I had to wait almost 10 minutes to approach the booth. Two folks with government badges were leaving as I finally got near, and they were talking about how quickly they could procure several for their office.

Then a little further on, I came across the nextScan system, which is an amazing way to transform microfilm and microfiche into electronic files that can then be read and edited as PDF or Word files or any other  format. This is a $65,000 system that probably has a zero footprint in the consumer arena. But how many government agencies once stored their files on microfiche? Besides libraries, which made extensive use of the technology, I know there are tons of files in certain agencies stored on those media that will one day become worthless unless saved by a machine like the nextScan. It too seemed to be drawing a crowd.

Then there was the LogicubeTalon Enhanced unit, a portable disk duplication tool that only can be used to create 100 percent disk images. You could not transfer single files with it, or  parts of a disk, or only the good sectors. For a regular consumer, making such a detailed one-to-one copy of a hard drive, especially with a $2,100 unit, makes no sense. Yet, here again I found a lot of very interested people from law enforcement and the three-letter agencies checking it out.

Even products that serve both the public sector and the average consumer, such as the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC, the emphasis was on aspects the government would be most interested in, like the security of the Bluetooth link. The crystal clear sound, automatic noise cancellation and a low price of $150 were almost secondary concerns for the people interested in the product.

It's good to get out there and see the latest and greatest technologies, and it was good to see so many advanced products being aimed right at government. Because of the mission and nature of government, the technology needs there are different from most consumers and slightly different than even a large commercial enterprise. Public-sector agencies have long sought, wherever possible, to make use of commercial products, rather than building their own. But that doesn’t mean their concerns are the same as commercial users. 


Posted by John Breeden II on May 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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