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Upstream oil and gas companies spend smarter on digital technologies to drive value, reduce costs in downturn, Accenture and Microsoft survey finds

Houston, TX, March 9 - As upstream oil and gas companies scrutinize every dollar invested, they’re spending smarter today on digital technologies, seeking to drive value and reduce costs amid low oil and gas prices, a new survey by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Microsoft Corp. reports. Respondents to the ”2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey” included international oil companies (IOCs), national oil companies (NOCs), independents and oilfield services firms.

Over the next three to five years, 80 percent of upstream oil and gas companies plan to spend the same, more, or significantly more (30%, 36%, and 14%, respectively) on digital technologies as they do now, according to the survey, now in its fifth edition. This continued investment in digital is due to respondents’ confidence that digital technologies can continue to help them drive leaner, smarter organizations.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents said digital is already adding high to significant value to their businesses. Cost reduction was identified as the biggest challenge that digital technologies can most address today, respondents said. In addition, respondents reported that making faster and better decisions was the greatest benefit digital technologies can deliver (56 percent) and that one of the biggest barriers to realizing value is the lack of a clear strategy or business case, not the technology itself.

Today’s digital investments focus more on mobility, with almost three-fifths of respondents (57 percent) reporting having invested in mobile, compared to 49 percent of the respondents in last year’s survey. Next is investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) (44 percent) this year vs. 25 percent in 2015 and the cloud (38 percent), up 8 percent from last year. Over the next three to five years, these investments are expected to shift more to big data and analytics (38 percent), IoT (36 percent) and mobile (31 percent).

“In the current challenging environment, the upstream oil and gas industry is focusing digital technologies on areas that help them work smarter and deliver significant efficiencies and savings in the short term while enabling them to make better decisions faster,” said Rich Holsman, global head of Digital in Accenture’s Energy industry group. “So, in the short term we expect these companies will continue to invest in areas that help lower operations costs through technologies like increased worker productivity with mobility, lower infrastructure costs through the cloud and drive better asset management through analytics.”

Respondents said digital’s biggest impact to date on the upstream oil and gas workforce has been increased employee productivity and engagement followed by better training and reskilling opportunities. They see the greatest impact from IoT in enabling connected field workers, with 60 percent of respondents planning to have field workers and assets digitally connected with smart devices.

The use of the cloud, respondents said, has shifted from being used primarily for infrastructure to an enabler of mobile tools. This trend is expected to increase in the next three to five years, as companies keep using the cloud to get faster and more value from other digital technologies.

“By taking advantage of the intelligent cloud, greater use of analytics and IoT go hand in hand with what we are seeing in our business today – the advent of the industrial Internet enabling the power of digital across the oil and gas landscape,” said Craig Hodges, general manager of the Gulf Coast District at Microsoft. “You can see this trend gaining traction from connected wells and intelligent pipelines to highly- efficient digital refineries.”

While two thirds (66 percent) identified analytics as one of the most important capabilities for transforming their company, only 13 percent felt their firm’s analytical capabilities were mature. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) plan to implement more analytic capabilities in the next three years to help address this need.

The “2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital and Technology Trends Survey,” sponsored by Accenture and Microsoft and conducted by PennEnergy Research in partnership with the Oil & Gas Journal, surveyed upstream professionals worldwide, including engineers, geologists and mid-level and executive management.

About Microsoft

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.

US Coast Guard seeks mariner input for Atlantic and Gulf seacoast study

Washington, DC, March 10 - The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking input from commercial and recreational mariners for an assessment of navigation requirements on the Atlantic and Gulf seacoast.

The Coast Guard Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) survey is focused on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico Seacoast System, an open water system typically traveled by mariners arriving from an ocean voyage or transiting along the coast.

Individual mariners and interested maritime industry representatives can provide input until May 31, 2016, at:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SeacoastWAMS.

In addition to stakeholder input, the study will also consider environmental concerns, user capabilities, available technology and available resources.

The assessment is the first in a series of national-level reviews that are part of the Future of Navigation initiative. The initiative seeks to improve service delivery for marine safety information, modernize the Coast Guard's physical Aids-to-Navigation (ATON) system, incorporate Automatic Identification System ATON where appropriate, and improve communications with Marine Transportation System (MTS) stakeholders.

MTS waterways in the U.S. are vital economic arteries that enable the continuous flow of overseas trade, sustain 13 million jobs and contribute $3.2 trillion to the national economy.

"This study will help to bring our waterways into the 21st century," said Cmdr. John M. Stone, chief of the Coast Guard's Navigation Technology and Risk Management Division. "While ATON continues to evolve to match the capabilities and requirements of our stakeholders, our mission remains the same: enhance mariner situational awareness and improve the safety of mariners on our waterways."

Managed by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems and maintained by Coast Guard cutters and ATON teams around the nation, aids to navigation guide military, commercial and recreational vessels through U.S. waters and help navigators determine their position, chart a safe course and steer clear of hazards.

Ability names defense, intelligence and software industry veteran David Wiernik to Board of Directors

David Wiernik, Ability

New York and Tel Aviv, Israel, March 3 - Ability, Inc., a leading provider of innovative tactical communications intelligence solutions, today announced that David Wiernik, a successful executive with experience ranging from military leadership to startup software organizations, has been appointed to Ability's Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Mr. Wiernik currently owns and manages several international software companies, specializing in navigation and GPS-related technologies, including NNG KFT, developer of the I-GO and NAV N GO solutions, the world's leading navigation software. NNG is the provider of white-labeled navigation software to 34 car manufacturers around the world. He previously served as a commercial pilot and flight instructor, and began his career as an airline captain.

"David brings strong industry contacts and a wealth of experience to Ability's board," commented Anatoly Hurgin, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ability. "David has over 40 years of experience, and we believe his knowledge and expertise will benefit Ability's growth plans."

"Ability has developed a compelling array of intelligence solutions which meet the significant and growing needs of governments and law enforcement personnel around the world as part of an increasingly important counter-terrorism effort," commented Mr. Wiernik. "I am excited to be a part of this organization, and look forward to contributing to the talented team at Ability."

As a result of this appointment, Ability now has seven directors, including four who are considered independent directors. Mr. Wiernik will serve on the nominating committee.

About Ability, Inc.

Ability, Inc.  is the sole owner of Ability Computer & Software Industries Ltd., following the closing of the business combination between Cambridge Capital Acquisition Corporation, Ability Computer & Software Industries Ltd. and Ability.

Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, Ability Computer & Software Industries Ltd. was founded in 1994 and is a leading provider of innovative tactical communications intelligence solutions used by government agencies, military forces, law enforcement and homeland security agencies worldwide, with an installed base in more than 50 countries. Ability offers a broad range of lawful interception, surveillance, decryption, cyber and geolocation solutions, with a strong focus on active and passive off-air interception and decryption of communications on GSM, CDMA, UMTS and LTE cellular systems as well as Iridium, Thuraya, and other satellite networks. State-of-the-art technology underpins Ability's scalable offerings, which can be tactical-and-portable, or strategic-and-fixed, depending on its customers' needs.

Louisiana DOTD goes mobile to inspect levees and more with TerraGo Edge

Washington, DC, February 29 - TerraGo announced today the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has deployed TerraGo Edge for the inspection of flood protection infrastructure including levees, dams and reservoirs.

The DOTD’s Public Works and Water Resources Division inspects over 1,100 miles of levees, four times, each and every year. The legacy inspection system was a custom-built application developed by an engineering services firm, which utilized Trimble® YUMA® ruggedized tablets. Over time, the system became less reliable and database updates were cumbersome and problematic. To truly fix the system would have meant more custom development services and other expenses. Each of the six YUMA tablets, fully configured, ran around $6,000. The annual software maintenance was also expensive at around $18,000, which did nothing to improve the reliability of the system.

“We really wanted a cloud-based system, so we wouldn’t need to maintain a database server on-site. And if we could deploy an Android solution, those tablets would only cost us about $200, so the hardware would be pennies on the dollar. We could break and replace a lot of Android tablets compared to a traditional, ruggedized GPS tablet at $6,000”, said Doug Taylor, Director of Levees, Dams and Reservoirs at the DOTD.

After a series of successful field trials, DOTD knew they had found a mobile solution that met their requirements across the board for reliability, ease of use and customizability, all with a cloud-based database solution at a fraction of the cost.

TerraGo Edge’s customizable forms mean the DOTD never has to pay a software services fee for modifying a hard-coded solution again. They can design their own forms, maps and workflows, flexibly changing them whenever needed to improve the speed and quality of inspections and maintenance.

“Honestly, my favorite part about TerraGo Edge is that it’s just easy to use”, said Taylor. “It’s easy to use in the field and it’s easy to get information and reports out whenever we need them. The challenge is always how to figure out the right forms and inspection workflow. We have hundreds of codes and things change over time. With Edge, we can customize our forms and process today, and know we can adjust things in the future. ”

About TerraGo

TerraGo develops software applications and mobile apps that make it easy for our customers to collect data, share information and work together anywhere, any time. From sharing feature-rich maps and imagery to deploying on-demand apps for a mobile workforce, TerraGo builds intuitive products that enable collaboration from any place on the planet.

Founded in 2005, TerraGo invented the industry’s most widely adopted geospatial collaboration technology with its innovative GeoPDF products and is revolutionizing field data collection with its TerraGo Edge mobile platform.

TerraGo’s customers include the world’s leading defense and intelligence departments, government agencies, non-profits and commercial enterprises in every industry, with over 2,000 global customers based in over 70 countries and all 50 US states.

Gatekeeper announces record-breaking backorders of over $2.7 Million; receives $447,000 in new contracts

Doug Dyment, Gatekeeper

Abbotsford, BC, February 29 - Gatekeeper Systems Inc. is pleased to report that it has received new purchase orders for its next generation high-definition mobile video systems worth approximately $447,000 CDN for customers located within the United States and Canada. With the New Orders, Gatekeeper has reached over $2.7 million CDN in backorders as of February 15, 2016, representing the highest sales backorder in the Company's history to date. 

Customers making up the New Orders include Alpine School District Utah, Anchorage School District Alaska, Saskatchewan River School District, and International Corporation Alberta.

Products provided include Gatekeeper high-definition mobile video systems, including one hundred and forty high-definition cameras to record stop-arm violations on Saskatchewan River School Districts buses.

Gatekeeper's technology has been designed to meet tough military standards for shock, vibration heat and cold. Rough road conditions as well as extreme weather fluctuations found in Alaska, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Utah are some of the toughest conditions for a school bus video system to operate reliably. Gatekeeper's next generation high-definition mobile video systems were designed to operate in these extreme environments.

President and CEO Doug Dyment stated, "These new orders were received in the second fiscal quarter 2016 and we intend to ship these orders by the third fiscal quarter of 2016. Our total backorder has hit new highs increasing over $2.7 million as of the week of February 15, 2016, and we are on track to accomplish our revenue goals for the current fiscal year end."

About Gatekeeper Systems Inc.

Gatekeeper provides innovative, end-to-end video safety and security solutions for mobile applications including body cameras, in-car police video systems, school bus video and stop arm camera video enforcement systems, transit bus video systems, and airborne digital recording systems for military applications.

The Company is headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

Congress passes the Competitive Service Act

Alexandria, VA - The Federal Managers Association (FMA) is excited to announce the Competitive Service Act (S. 1580) has passed through Congress and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature. The legislation will improve the federal hiring process by allowing agencies to share their "best qualified" lists with other agencies. FMA worked with Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) on this commonsense reform. FMA applauded the passage of the bill in the Senate last year, and the Association is grateful to the House for its recognition of the value of this legislation. Below is FMA National President Patricia Niehaus' statement upon final passage:

"FMA is grateful for the leadership of Senators Tester, Portman, Cardin, Moran and Heitkamp on this bipartisan reform, and for the House and Senate passing it unanimously. This action is a prime example of bicameral and bipartisan work that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal workforce.

"In 2010, then-OPM Director John Berry called on Congress to allow agencies to share their lists of best qualified talent as part of a broader piece of legislation aimed at reforming the federal hiring process. S. 1580 allows agencies to review and select job candidates from another agency's best qualified list -- a list of applicants who have already undergone a rigorous competitive assessment process and are certified as eligible for selection by an agency selecting official. This legislation will provide agencies with access to highly qualified candidates and would allow for much greater efficiency in hiring. As I have said before, at a time when the federal government is struggling to improve recruitment and retention, this tool would streamline the hiring process and remove a barrier for talented men and women.

"Again, I thank the Senate and the House for their work on this legislation. I look forward to President Obama signing it into law."  

The Federal Managers Association, established in 1913, is the oldest and largest association representing the interests of executives, managers, and supervisors serving in today's federal government.

Dominion, Questar file merger applications in Utah, Wyoming

Richmond, VA, March 3 - Dominion Resources, Inc. and Questar Corporation announced today that they have jointly filed merger applications with the Public Service Commission of Utah and the Wyoming Public Service Commission regarding the pending combination that was announced on Feb. 1, 2016. The companies also provided notice of the proposed transaction to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The pending merger would create an integrated energy company serving about 2.5 million electric utility customers and 2.3 million gas utility customers in seven states. The combined company also would operate more than 15,500 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipelines, one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems, and approximately 24,300 megawatts of electric generation.

Closing of the transaction also requires approval of Questar's shareholders. In February, the Federal Trade Commission granted early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with respect to the transaction.

The companies expect the transaction to close in 2016.

About Dominion

Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 24,300 megawatts of generation, 12,200 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,500 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 933 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves utility and retail energy customers in 14 states.

About Questar

Questar Corp. is a Rockies-based integrated natural gas company operating through three principal subsidiaries: Questar Gas provides retail natural gas distribution in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho; Wexpro develops and produces natural gas on behalf of Questar Gas; and Questar Pipeline operates interstate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities in the Western U.S.

Introducing First Tactical’s Specialist Line

Mens Taxtic Series Tactical Pants 

The Specialist Line of Men's and Women's Pants and Shirts represents the backbone of what First Tactical does - high quality gear at amazing prices.

The Specialist Shirts feature three new shirts in Tactical and BDU stylings and are designed with a strong, ripstop polyester/cotton and a Teflon® Shield+ stain repellent finish that gives them a stain resistant edge. Expert stitching design and a built-in ventilating system gives wearers durability, freedom of movement, and breathability from a shirt that serves them with excellence in every capacity.

The Specialist Pants come in BDU, Tactical, and EMS stylings and are dependable and made for the field. The double ripstop polyester/cotton blend fabric, and Teflon® Shield+ stain repellent finish give these pants unmatched sturdiness and functionality. Running gusset construction gives users full motion ability, while triple needle stitching at critical seams keeps them going strong. 

All three stylings of Specialist Pants sell for $39.99. The Specialist Shirts are priced at $44.99. 

About First Tactical

Headquartered in Modesto, California, First Tactical™ makes functional gear created for professionals. Guided by the principles of innovation and reliability, First Tactical works firsthand with Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and Emergency Medical Personnel to create durable products that meet the needs of public safety. By working directly with real world users and utilizing expertise of high-quality professionals, all of First Tactical’s products are put through demanding conditions to ensure they are can reliably perform.

Vanguard Integrity Professionals at Share In San Antonio

Las Vegas, February 29 - Vanguard Integrity Professionals, Inc., cybersecurity experts for networks, distributed systems and large enterprises, was proud to be a sponsor at SHARE in San Antonio Feb. 29-March 4, 2016. Vanguard presented on topics addressing the latest security, governance and compliance issues.  Vanguard showcased its security solutions demonstrating how they play a vital role protecting any large enterprise, cloud or z/OS security server environment.SHARE began as the first-ever enterprise IT user group back in 1955, and continues to deliver important avenues of professional growth for the industry today.  While the means of learning, networking and influencing this space have evolved - the desired result of providing a valuable user-driven perspective is the same.

Vanguard attended the SHARE Orlando event in 2015, and presented several sessions.  Brian Marshall Vanguard's vp of research and development was identified as the winner of a Best Session Award.  

About Vanguard Integrity Professionals

Vanguard Integrity Professionals provides enterprise security software and services that solve complex security and regulatory compliance challenges for financial, insurance, healthcare, education, transportation and government agencies around the world. Vanguard provides automated solutions for Audit and Compliance, Operational Security, and Intrusion Management.  The world's largest Financial, Insurance, Government Agencies and Retailers entrust their security to Vanguard Integrity Professionals.  Vanguard is committed to protecting and securing the Cloud, z/OS Security Server and Enterprise environments.  Vanguard proudly provides 24/7/365 live customer support from the United States of America.

Raytheon team to deliver next-generation jet trainer

Washington, DC, February 22 - Raytheon Company is offering an integrated, next-generation training solution for the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Pilot Training competition. Raytheon, one of the world's preeminent training and avionics companies, is the prime contractor, with principal partners Finmeccanica, CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace.

"The success of our nation's future pilots depends on a comprehensive trainer to prepare them to take full advantage of the capabilities unique to advanced 4th and 5th generation fighters," said Rick Yuse, president of Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems. "Our affordable, low risk, open systems solution combines a proven aircraft with a suite of fully integrated training technologies. Our team is best positioned to bring the essential experience, capabilities and core competencies together to meet the United States Air Force's mission requirements."

Nearly 45,000 pilots and crew have earned their wings on the training systems designed, developed and fielded by this Raytheon led-team. This solution combines the T-100, an advanced variant of the Aermacchi M-346, with a leading-edge Ground Based Training System.

"The T-100 offers dynamic kinetic performance, while also delivering an embedded, tactical training system that immerses pilots in realistic mission scenarios," said Filippo Bagnato, managing director of Finmeccanica Aircraft Division. "The M-346, the basis for the T-100, is already operational and preparing pilots around the world for the challenges of today's complex fighter platforms."

CAE USA designs and develops some of the world's most sophisticated, simulation-based training systems for lead-in fighter trainer aircraft.

"Our system will prepare Air Force pilots to safely and efficiently fly the most advanced fighter aircraft," said Gene Colabatistto, group president – Defense & Security, CAE.  "Our integrated simulation technologies will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring sophisticated, safe, cost-effective training for the United States Air Force."

Honeywell Aerospace will provide twin, F124 turbofan engines to power the T-100 via the International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC) joint venture. With more than 800,000 operating hours across the entire F124/F125 turbofan engine family to date, the F124 delivers best-in-class thrust-to-weight ratio, proven reliability and enhanced efficiency.

"Honeywell's F124 turbofan engine ensures training and light combat aircraft have the best power, easiest maintenance, flexibility and low life-cycle cost to support all types and roles of missions," said Carey Smith, president, Defense and Space, Honeywell Aerospace. "The F124 engine reduces pilot workload with new automation features that allow a pilot to focus on flying the aircraft for its mission."

About Finmeccanica 

Finmeccanica is among the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy's main industrial company. As a single entity from January 2016, organized into business Divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Finmeccanica operates in the most competitive international markets by leveraging its areas of technology and product leadership. 

About CAE

CAE is a global leader in the delivery of training for the defense and security, civil aviation, and health care markets. CAE designs and integrates the industry's most comprehensive training solutions, anchored by the knowledge and expertise of its 8,000 employees, with world-leading simulation technologies and a track record of service and technology innovation spanning seven decades. CAE's global presence is the broadest in the industry, with 160 sites and training locations in 35 countries, including joint venture operations, and the world's largest installed base of flight simulators. Each year, CAE trains more than 120,000 defense and civil crewmembers, as well as thousands of health care professionals.

About Honeywell Aerospace

Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft, and its turbochargers are used by nearly every automaker and truck manufacturer around the world. The Aerospace business unit develops innovative solutions for more fuel-efficient automobiles and airplanes, more direct and on-time flights, safer flying and runway traffic, along with aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity services, logistics and more. The business delivers safer, faster, and more efficient and comfortable transportation-related experiences worldwide.           

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2015 sales of $23 billion and 61,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 94 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5ITM products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. 

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