Tuesday, June 19, 2007

U.S. Army Recognizes Itself

The U.S. Army recognized the top inventions of 2006. And they are all Army programs. Created by the Army. For the Army.

Blow Torch Counter Improvised Explosive Device System, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. This vehicle-mounted system detonates IEDs at safe stand-off distances, minimizing vehicle damage and Soldier injuries.

"It's fairly easy to operate, and it gives a sense of security to the Soldiers when they're on convoy duty," said Maj. Brian Hackenberg, who helped develop the system.

Integrated Robotic Explosive Detection System, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Capable of crossing rugged terrain, this remotely operated system incorporates an explosive trace detector onto a robotic platform.

Plastic Shaped Charge Assembly for Remote Destruction of Buried IEDs, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. Remotely emplaced, the PSCA destroys known or suspected unexploded ordnance with higher accuracy than similar devices currently in use. Its low-fragmentation plastic housing eliminates collateral damage.

Humvee Crew Extraction D-ring, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Combat locks on the up-armored Humvee provide security for Soldiers but often get so damaged the doors can't be opened. The D-ring provides solid anchor points for the hooks of a tow strap, chain or cable to pull open damaged doors.

"There was an issue of Soldiers getting trapped inside Humvees that had been damaged for whatever reason ... enemy fire or being flipped. Soldiers had problems getting the doors off these up-armored Humvees so we took their advice and created the D-ring," said Wesley D. Patterson, who is part of a Fast Assistance in Sciences Team that deploys to help Soldiers solve problems that can be resolved within six months.

M1114 Humvee Interim Fragment Kit 5, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. This kit was fielded as a ballistic improvement for the M1114 Humvee in April 2006. A prototype door solution with fabrication and mounting instructions was provided within one week with automotive testing and safety certification.

Remote Urban Monitoring System, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. RUMS hardware combines emerging technologies in Wireless Local Area Network technology, night-vision cameras and unattended ground sensors to eliminate false alarms. Tripped sensors transmit an alarm signal to the camera module and operator after video and audio from multiple camera modules confirm the unattended ground sensor's alarm signal.

Constant Hawk, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Constant Hawk is a surveillance capability that uses an electro-optic payload to collect intelligence and identify areas that require increased surveillance by other assets.

OmniSense Unattended Ground Sensor System, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. OmniSense is an unattended ground sensor system used to detect and classify personnel and vehicles in perimeter defense.

EM113A2 Rapid Entry Vehicle, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny, N.J. The REV provides rapid entry, non-lethal crowd control and rescue-squad insertion capabilities into areas requiring non-lethal intervention. The vehicle increases Soldier survivability through improved situational awareness and the ability to move and fire from within an armored vehicle.

BuckEye System, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Miss. BuckEye uses a digital camera to produce geospatial information for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It also produces high-resolution 3D urban mapping.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Dot Calm Era?

Looks like online retail shopping has slowed according this piece in the New York Times. Have we entered an age where pointing and clicking has become so stressful we put the mouse down?


Why Estonia Matters

CSIS released this study on the recent cyber-attacks in Estonia. According the authors, Estonia doesn't matter much. Well, maybe just in terms of not being a victim of an electronic attack from an enemy combatant. The effects of virtual attacks such as spam or hacking are at minimum annoying and at most enough cause to raise the threat level color.

On a state level, these types of virtual disruptions are certainly worth keeping track.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Add Another Continent to the Network

Tom Barnett has yet another excellent piece in the latest Esquire, this time an article on the new bases planned for the African continent. Read the entire article here.

"The Horn of Africa was supposed to be Washington's bureaucratic mea culpa for the Green Zone, a proving ground for the next generation of interagency cooperation that fuels America's eventual victory in what Abizaid once dubbed the "long war" against radical Islam. But as its first great test in Somalia demonstrated, the three D's are still a long way from being synchronized, and as the Pentagon sets up its new Africa Command in the summer of 2008, the time for sloppy off-Broadway tryouts is running out. Eventually, Al Qaeda's penetration of Muslim Africa will happen -- witness the stunning recent appearance of suicide bombers in Casablanca -- and either the three D's will answer this challenge, or this road show will close faster than you can say "Black Hawk down."'


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Goure's Got it Right

Good article from Defense News (subscription access):

Pentagon Hones Its Procurement Strategy

"Call it net-centricity with a purpose. As the Pentagon and U.S. military services build their networks of networks, they are looking especially for gear that can filter the rivers of sensor data, then share the gleanings easily among the services.

“We are no longer investing in networking simply for the sake of increasing communication and dumping information. We are now investing into networks for a purpose, networks driven by strategy,” said Daniel Gouré, vice president of the Lexington Institute.

And neither is the military interested in raw information; there’s too much of it already, thanks largely to the enormous amount of electronic intelligence-gathering systems. Instead, troops and their leaders need tactically or strategically relevant information, Gouré said.

“The interesting question is an operational one. What is your conception of what net-centric is about? It is not simply about sharing information,” Gouré said. "


Two from BBC

Check out Tom Barnett's posting on censorship on the Net as well as our posting from May 21. BBC is sure keeping track of the censorship issues.


The Net and Your Future Employment

The Internet has certainly helped the job hunting process with sites devoted to job openings, resume tips and what clothes to wear to an interview.

Harvard Business Review wants to know what happens when a job candidate is Googled and the search results find some interesting information.

Read the case study here and feel free to send in your thoughts.


Glut-ton for Punishment

What happens when you analyze global infectious diseases, the World Wide Web and some old bling? You get this report from the National Academies called Glut: Mastering Information Through The Ages.

For $33 this report is all yours. Although this report summary reminds me a bit of Jared Diamond's series of books that tie together cultural and historical events to support modern trends. Who knew history was so net-centric?

"What do primordial bacteria, medieval alchemists, and the World Wide Web have to do with each other? This fascinating exploration of how information systems emerge takes readers on a provocative journey through the history of the information age.

Today's "information explosion" may seem like an acutely modern phenomenon, but we are not the first generation nor even the first species to wrestle with the problem of information overload. Long before the advent of computers, human beings were collecting, storing, and organizing information: from Ice Age taxonomies to Sumerian archives, Greek libraries to Dark Age monasteries.

Today, we stand at a precipice, as our old systems struggle to cope with what designer Richard Saul Wurman called a "tsunami of data." With some historical perspective, however, we can begin to understand our predicament not just as the result of technological change, but as the latest chapter in an ancient story that we are only beginning to understand.

Spanning disciplines from evolutionary theory and cultural anthropology to the history of books, libraries, and computer science, writer and information architect Alex Wright weaves an intriguing narrative that connects such seemingly far-flung topics as insect colonies, Stone Age jewelry, medieval monasteries, Renaissance encyclopedias, early computer networks, and the World Wide Web. Finally, he pulls these threads together to reach a surprising conclusion, suggesting that the future of the information age may lie deep in our cultural past."


If You Network It, They Will Come

This Brookings report speaks to this author's Rustbelt roots. What are the key differences between America's thriving urban centers and cities that were once major industrial centers? Brookings suggests that an economic focus (read: get on the globalization bandwagon) will help revitalize former industry heavy cities.

The lesson is that in order for these cities to once again achieve economic prosperity, they have to connect to the wider globalization economic trends.

“A dynamic economic moment is also now underway, a result of a fundamental restructuring of the global economy:

• Globalization has accelerated the shift of our economy from the production of commodities, to the design, marketing, and delivery of goods, services, and ideas. Services employment grew by 214 percent from 1970 to 2000 as manufacturing declined, and now represents 32 percent of all jobs in the country.

• The shift to a knowledge and innovation economy demands greater numbers of highly educated, highly skilled workers—now the single biggest driver of economic growth across metropolitan areas.

• The role and function of universities, colleges, medical research institutions, and other institutions of higher learning in economic development and community revitalization is growing and changing.

• The growth of the knowledge economy is altering the value and function of density and proximity, which is widely held to help accelerate the transfer of knowledge and ideas between people and firms.

While globalization and technological change have undoubtedly contributed to the decline of those cities reliant on “old economy” industries, moving forward, they also have the potential to give them back their competitive edge.”


Upcoming Event: NGDC Conference

Next Generation Data Center Conference and Expo

August 6-9, 2007

San Fransisco, California

A copy of the brochure can be found here.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Network Comms - Background

Excellent background piece in the latest issue of Scientific American on network communications.

"The military has recognized the robustness of network coding and is now funding research into its use in mobile ad hoc networks, which can form on the fly. Such networks are valuable in highly changeable environments, such as on the battlefield, where reliable communications are essential and establishing and maintaining an infrastructure of fiber-optic cables or cell towers is difficult. In an ad hoc network, every soldier's radio becomes a node in a communications system, and each node seeks out and establishes connections to neighboring nodes; together these connections establish a network's links. Every node can both send and receive messages and serve as an intermediary to pass along messages intended for other receivers. This technique extends communications capabilities far beyond the transmission range of a single node. It also allows enormous flexibility, because the network travels with the users, constantly reconfiguring and reestablishing connections as needed.

By changing how networks function, network coding may influence society in ways we cannot yet imagine. In the meantime, though, those of us who are studying it are considering the obstacles to implementation. Transitioning from our router-based system to a network-coded one will actually be one of the more minor hurdles. That conversion can be handled by a gradual change rather than a sudden overhaul; some routers could just be reprogrammed, and others not built to perform coding operations would be replaced little by little.

A bigger challenge will be coping with issues beyond replacing routers with coders. For instance, mixing information is a good strategy when the receiving node will gather enough evidence to recover what it desires from the mixture. This condition is always met in multicast networks but may not be the case in general. Moreover, in some circumstances, such as when multiple multicasts are transmitted, mixing information can make it difficult or impossible for users to extract the proper output. How, then, can nodes decide which information can and cannot be mixed when multiple connections share the same network? In what ways must network coding in wireless networks differ from its use in wired ones? What are the security advantages and implications of network coding? How will people be charged for communications services when one person's data are necessarily mixed with those of other users? In collaborations that span the globe, we and others are pondering how to unravel such knots even as we strive to enhance the capabilities of the communications networks that have become such an integral part of so many lives."


Upcoming Event: Operations Research

Thanks to Alidade for sending this along. Please find registration and conference information here. The event is going to be held in Annapolis on Monday, June 11.