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Today's News

TSA awards sole source alerting contract to Clickatell

TSA has decided to award a sole source contract to Clickatell, Inc., of Redwood City, CA, worth $860,000 to continue to provide 24/7 operational support to the agency’s TSA Alert system, which can send voice, e-mail and text message alerts to the nation’s airports.

In a “justification and approval” document released on January 20, TSA explained that it could avoid any possible disruption caused by switching to a new vendor, and can save approximately $250,000 per year, by sticking with the incumbent vendor, which deployed and manages the current TSA Alert system through its predecessor corporation, known as Multimode.

TSA identified several potential providers of similar alert systems, including Red Alert, RapidReach, eAlert, Amerilert and RSAN, but concluded that “no such custom program was available from other vendors.”

In praise of the Clickatell alerting system, the TSA document noted that Clickatell offered a unique system to send and receive alerts, a comprehensive system architecture that allowed for more open standards for data exchanges, and had already passed U.S. Government certification and accreditation.

“Unlike other agencies with similar responsibilities, TSA lacks a nationwide radio communications network,” explained the TSA document. “TSA Alert was designed to fill that gap by providing a centrally managed system that can be customized for local sites.”

TSA likes its current alerting system and seems reluctant to make an abrupt switch. “TSA Alert is an extremely complicated system requiring the ability to connect to various downstream messaging providers, such as voice networks and text messaging,” the J&A notice explained. “The system in its current state is functional, reliable and has been certified and accredited.”

TSA said it intends to compete this contract during the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 for a subsequent award in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.



Tips for info-sharing with local and tribal officials

The FBI and DHS need to better clarify what “suspicious activities” local and tribal officials in border communities are to report to federal law enforcement and state fusion agencies, and how to report them.

That was one of the central findings of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the House Committee on Homeland Security that studied information sharing among local and tribal officials in border communities, the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI and state fusion agencies.

As part of its work, GAO studied 20 agencies in border communities and five fusion centers.

The report recommended DHS and the FBI “more fully identify the information needs of and establish partnerships with local and tribal officials along the borders; identify promising practices in developing border intelligence products within fusion centers and obtain feedback on the products; and define the suspicious activities that local and tribal officials in border communities are to report and how to report them.”

GAO found that “15 of the 20 local and tribal law enforcement agencies in the border communities GAO contacted said they received information directly from at least one federal agency in the vicinity (Border Patrol, ICE, or the FBI) that was useful in enhancing their situational awareness of border crimes and potential terrorist threats.”

In addition, “nine of the 20 agencies reported receiving information from all three federal agencies.”

However, and possibly not surprisingly, local and tribal “officials that reported federal agencies had not discussed information needs and had not established partnerships with them also said they had not received useful information.”

Moreover, officials from 13 of the 20 local and tribal agencies contacted said that “federal agencies had not defined what suspicious activities or indicators rise to the level of potential terrorist threats and should be reported to federal agencies or fusion centers.”

FCC seeks ‘deterrent’ force

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the Federal Communications Commission is seeking a uniformed protective force, given the tone of civic discourse these days and the high-stakes, big-bucks media, telecom and IT issues the commission regularly debates. Plus, of course, people do feel strongly about their TV.

According to solicitation number SOL10000004, the FCC is looking for a contractor who can “manage, train and maintain a uniformed security force that shall constitute a deterrent against unauthorized, illegal, or potentially life-threatening activities directed toward the agency’s employees, visitors, sensitive information, and properties.”

The FCC requests quotations for these services in the solicitation posted January 15, 2010. No response deadline was specified in the solicitation.

For additional information, contact Joyce Terry-Butler, at [email protected] or at 202-418-1857.

Telvent in DHS SCADA testing project

Rockville, MD-based Telvent reports that it is the first vendor selected to participate in a DHS supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) testing project to ensure critical IT security and infrastructure protection in multi-vendor environments.

Telvent's SCADA system will be deployed as part of DHS’ new multi-vendor assessment (MVA) project.

The MVA project will produce best practices and security guidance for asset owners planning to deploy and integrate next-generation critical infrastructure control systems, says Telvent. MVA will include operating a simulated pipeline to accurately model and explore numerous real-world processes that occur within critical infrastructure.

Telvent notes that it will support DHS' control systems security program's mission to reduce risks associated with control systems that command the nation's vital water, gas, oil, and electric networks.

Input forecasts emerging tech markets for state and local governments

Reston, VA-based Input, which specializes in government business, has unveiled new research detailing adoption trends for cloud computing, virtualization, service-oriented architecture (SOA), open source software (OSS) and geospatial technologies among state and local governments.

According to the company's projections, the total state and local cloud computing market is expected to grow from $230 million in 2009 to $620 million by 2014 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent, with the largest growth predicted for platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service offerings.

Over the same period, Input predicts, the virtualization market is poised to grow from approximately $360 to $580 million at a CAGR of 10 percent.

Meanwhile, the market for open source software is expected to increase from $160 million to $280 million (11 percent CAGR), and the geospatial technology market is projected to grow from $520 million to $720 million (7 percent CAGR) over the next five years.

Input's report is based on a survey of technology decision makers across 50 states and the District of Columbia. The full report is available on Input's Web site, at http://tiny.cc/slemergingtechmarkets.

Kanguru adds USB device control to its KRMC

Millis, MA-based Kanguru Solutions, a manufacturer of secure IT storage solutions, has announced the addition of USB device control to its Kanguru Remote Management Console (KRMC).
The company calls KRMC a powerful enterprise-level application designed for remotely managing an organization's fleet of secure flash drives. 

The addition of USB device control allows administrators to ensure that only approved USB devices can access their computer network, Kanguru says.
USB device control can lock out unauthorized users and devices from USB ports, regulate how users copy data to USB drives and create detailed audit reports to track usage, according to the company.

Curriculum development: Training for correctional industries directors

The National Institute of Corrections’ Transition and Offender Workforce Development and Academy divisions are offering a single grant for the development a “competency based, blended modality training curriculum that will provide Correctional Industries Directors with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to set organizational priorities, identify strategic objectives, create measurable goals, establish collaborative partnerships, utilize current labor market information, and provide specialized services and programming that support the offenders’ long term attachment to the labor force.”

No financial terms were specified in the grant announcement, whose funding opportunity number is 10A30. Any public or private agency, educational institution, organization, individual or team with expertise in the described areas is eligible to apply.

Closing date for grant applications is February 12, 2010.

For additional information, contact Pamela Davison at 202-353-0484.

XIO Strategies appoints new EVP

Vienna, VA-based XIO Strategies Inc., a supply chain management and communications consulting firm, reports that Gary Moore has joined its practice as executive vice president.

Moore served previously as the director of logistics at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where he created the Logistics Response Center (LRC), an operations center that manages all logistics issues and tracks resources during a disaster, XIO notes.

Previously, at the Office of Emergency Preparedness / National Disaster Medical System, he managed more than 70 disaster responses and developed and implemented new disaster response teams specializing in weapons of mass destruction, international surgical care and veterinary medicine, according to XIO’s statement.

Most recently, Moore served as the director and chief of police for the Allegany County (MD) Department of Safety.

Introducing the ‘In Case of Emergency’ iPhone app

Legalzoom.com, an online legal service, and Donate Life America (DLA), a non-profit organization, have created and are offering ICE App, intended to help users input the comprehensive data first responders need.

Access to information about allergies, pre-existing medical conditions and current medication is crucial to immediate and effective treatment. If the victim is incapacitated, the first responders are left looking for clues, Legalzoom and DLA say.

ICE App gives the 50 million people who own an iPhone or iPod Touch the chance to have a voice, even when they are unable to speak, they add.

Information stored on the iPhone through ICE App includes the patient's name, photograph, date of birth, height and weight, contact names and numbers, medical conditions, blood type, food allergies, medication allergies and current medications, and organ donation preference.

"We created ICE App to enable every iPhone user to better protect themselves in a matter of minutes," Brian Liu, co-founder and chairman of LegalZoom.com, said in a statement.

Ice App is offered free of charge from the iTunes Application Store.

DC Council restricts access to police and corrections department video cameras


The District of Columbia has created an emergency management agency that theoretically could monitor about 5,200 video cameras District-wide, but the DC Council has recently passed legislation that would prohibit the emergency agency from viewing cameras operated by the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Corrections.


After hearing testimony from a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union at a public hearing last October and contemplating various “privacy concerns,” the District of Columbia Council unanimously passed – and sent to the U.S. Congress for its review – a bill called the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Use of Video Surveillance Regulations Amendment Act of 2009.


The District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) is expected to manage the District’s response to natural or man-made emergencies. It has developed a Video Interoperability for Public Safety (VIPS) program, which is intended to provide a common operating framework, so emergency officials can monitor disparate cameras maintained by the DC public schools, transportation department and protective services division.


“This consolidated network is supposed to provide the District with enhanced real-time video monitoring, as well as post-event capture and retrieval,” said a legislative report issued last November by the DC Council’s committee on public safety and the judiciary.


However, after members of the DC Council began thinking about the implications of the new District-wide VIPS program, they decided to restrict access to certain cameras.


“Bill 18-282 ensures that cameras operated by the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Corrections are not used with the VIPS system,” explains the committee report. “The Metropolitan Police Department has the expertise to control and monitor its surveillance cameras and that responsibility should not be shared or transferred to the VIPS program. Moreover, monitoring of police cameras by both the police department and HSEMA would be duplicative, increase costs, and possibly jeopardize the integrity/security of the MPD program.”


Similarly, the DC Council determined that the VIPS program should not be allowed to monitor video cameras operated by the Department of Corrections, which uses its CCTV system to monitor the safety of inmates and staff at the DC jail.


“Corrections staff should not have to wait for a phone call from the VIPS center to notify them of a disturbance,” the committee report argued. “Moreover, monitoring prison security does not assist in any way HSEMA in its mission of managing the District’s emergency operations.”


The approved measure was forwarded to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which, due to the “home rule” provisions that apply to the District of Columbia, has 30 legislative days in which to review the proposed new law.


The bill, 18-282 was introduced last May by DC District Council Chairman Vincent Gray and Councilmember At-Large Phil Mendelson.



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