Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No EPC Updates For the Next Week

I can't take Winter any more.....so I'm out of here on my annual ski vacation. (Huh?) See you again starting next Wednesday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

More Sensors, Less Privacy, Coming Soon

If you're thinking that light bulb overhead is just a light bulb, well think again. It's actually a sensor and it's watching you... From airports to highways, a growing trend that is certain to accelerate in the years ahead. Two articles below for your consideration:

(New York Times, February 17, 2014)

(Fast Company, February 20, 2014)

Comment: No doubt where things are headed. We will need to walk a fine line between technology that makes our lives better, and technology that makes our lives less private - more often than not in the name of public safety and security.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Some Thoughts About the Importance of Who Owns Where

I recently became aware of a blog posting by Serge Wroclawski from back in the first part January 2014. Although my acknowledgement of that post here isn't timely, the topic clearly is. So much so, it deserves your consideration across a weekend. Thus, find some thoughts about who owns "where" and what that means to the world going forward. 

(emacsen.net, January 4, 2014) 

Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NGA Director Talks About the Future

At the recent ESRI Federal GIS Conference in Washington, DC, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Letitia Long, had some interesting comments about the future. First, drawing on NGA's experience during the Typhoon Haiyan response, she recommended that Federal agencies should make their data readily accessible to others if they wanted to maximize its value. Second, that NGA's Map of the World effort will allow "full immersion" understanding of the world by as early as 2020. Articles on both themes can be found below:

(FCW, February 11, 2014)
(FCW, February 18, 2014)

Comment: Yup, basically two ideas we've been babbling about here. The value in data doesn't come from selling it to the nation's citizens after the taxpayers have already bought it - it comes from making that data freely available so the inventive American spirit can develop more diverse and valuable uses for it. And, we are headed for a world where command of geospatial data and systems will radically reshape our understanding of the world. More to follow in the years ahead. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FREE Webinar: NISC 2014 - Get Involved! - TOMORROW, Thursday, February 20th, 1:00 Central

As stated on the National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) website, NISC:
...is a membership organization that brings together data owners, custodians, and users involved in the fields of homeland security, public safety, and emergency management and response. Together, members leverage efforts related to the governance, development, and sharing of situational awareness and incident management resources, tools, and best practices. 
Tomorrow, NISC will host a webinar to help organizations and individuals better understand that mission, and how they can participate in NISC efforts going forward. 

Event overview:
  • Implementation projects, working groups, and products designed to address tactical information sharing (and management!) needs of first responders
  • Strategies for communicating needs to policymakers and other stakeholders through our engagement with the White House
  • Our involvement in helping establish Virtual USA as a standards-based program
  • Ways you can engage in every effort-from programmatic design to peer-to-peer capacity building

Connection details:
  • Date: Thursday, February 20, 2014
  • Time: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Central 
  • Cost: Free
  • More details: Click here
  • Add to Calendar (use button on page that opens): Click here
  • Call-in number: 1-866-469-3239 
  • Meeting number: 737 614 543
  • Password: N/A
  • Questions?: Angie Van Berkel, 202-778-0267, avanberkel@nisconsortium.org

(Link active on event day and time) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

California's Latest Disaster

It's a different kind of disaster than what typically gets the billing, but it's a disaster nonetheless. Drought. Unfortunately, it has come to California in a big way - one that can be seen and defined from space. Articles below tell the story:

(New York Times, February 14, 2014)

(National Journal, February 4, 2014)

Comment: The slow moving nature of this kind of disaster tends to hide it's significance. However, given the "bread basket" position California has at the nation's grocery stores, the consequences of this event will be far reaching.  

Graphic credit: NASA GRACE

Monday, February 17, 2014

More Wisdom From the Top

Once again it's "their" day, so once again in honor of all the men who have led the American nation since inception, we pause to reflect on some of their tidbits of wisdom from across the ages:

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience." 
~George Washington~

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

~Thomas Jefferson~

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.

~Andrew Jackson~

No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.

~James Polk~

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

~Abraham Lincoln~

The ship of democracy, which has weathered all storms, may sink through the mutiny of those on board." 

~Grover Cleveland~

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

~Theodore Roosevelt~

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow."

~Thomas Woodrow Wilson~

There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.

~John Calvin Coolidge~

Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.

~Franklin Delano Roosevelt~

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

~Harry S. Truman~

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

~Dwight David Eisenhower~

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy~

Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there and take it.

~Lyndon Baines Johnson~

I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators."

~Gerald Rudolph Ford~

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

~Ronald Wilson Reagan~

We are not the sum of our possessions.

~George Herbert Walker Bush~

Promising too much can be as cruel as caring too little.

~William Jefferson Clinton~

Have a Great President's Day!

Photo Credit: National Park Service
Quotes: President Quotes - BrainyQuote

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Flash: February 14, 2014

The reader counts tell me the Friday "F" series has hit the end of the line. So, let's try something different - a flash review of some stories from the fringe of the Geospatial Revolution.

Featured Map: 2013 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Legislation (for state-by-state details)

Absolutely Jaw Dropping Dumb Criminal TricksYouTube Video Of Pot Farm Leads To Clinton Man’s Arrest (or, more exactly: Proof Positive What Dope Smoking Will Do to Your Brain)

Inventions We Didn't Know We NeededIntroducing the iBag (GPS purse to control spending)

Truly Brilliant Map(s) of the WeekWhat The Internet Would Look Like As A World Map (9 regional views of the map below)

Hope Your Weekend is Truly Brilliant!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Plan Released

On Wednesday, the Federal government took the first step toward creating a body of "best practices" for critical infrastructure cybersecurity when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Initial reactions about the value of the document have been mixed. More:

(Information Week Government, February 12, 2014)

(NIST Press Release, February 12, 2014)

Comment: OK, so it's far from perfect, but it's a start.  And that's 95% of the battle when it comes to creating meaningful change.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dr. Roger Tomlinson, Father of GIS, Dead at 80

Yesterday, it became publicly known that over this past weekend, Dr. Roger Tomlinson, the Father of GIS, passed away in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of this amazing individual who did much to change the world. Some insights about a life well spent can be found below:

(GIS Lounge, February 11, 2014)

(University Consortium for Geographic Information Science Fellow Award Biography)

Photo Credit: Jegan's ASCII & Wallpaper Blog

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ShotSpotter: Now Indoors

SST, manufacturer of the ShotSpotter gunfire locating system used by police in many metropolitan areas to quickly determine and record the location of outdoor crime involving firearms, announced late last year it had released an indoor version called SiteSecure. Given the dramatically different nature of the two settings, considerable work was required to create an effective indoor system. The company cited the recent rash of indoor active shooter incidents as the reason why it had developed SiteSecure. More below:  

(IWCE's Urgent Communications, January 30, 2014)

Comment: A truly unfortunate sign of the times.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Terrorism Attack on the California Electric Grid

This is article should give you pause. What is simple beyond belief to accomplish, could quickly bring the nation to its knees:

(LA Times, February 7, 2014)

Comment: Unfortunately, the scenario related in this article is not the only one of this type - low cost, high impact - when it comes to critical infrastructure. Therefore, if the nation is going to be resilient going forward, defending against simple threats is no longer optional.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Franken Friday: NameTag Facial Recognition Software Irks Senator

Back on January 10th, in the vein of Friday humor, I ran a story about facial recognition software NameTag.  However, comedian, turned Minnesota Senator, Al Franken, isn't finding anything funny about the development. The app which is designed to allow anyone with a smartphone or similar hand-held to match a person's face against a digital database of personal information that is currently at two million people and growing, gained the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law's ire when it became known the range of products this software could be deployed on included Google Glass. Find below, plenty to read and contemplate about this one:    

(Background video is worthwhile)
(The Hill, February 5, 2014)

(Senator Franken Press Release, February 5, 2014)

All for This Week, Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

States Move on Feds Failure to Limit Tracking

Convinced that the Federal government is unable or unwilling to tackle a range of legal issues related to the use of tracking technology by law enforcement and others, legislators in states across the nation have begun taking matters into their own hands. However, as noted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the loser in all this may ultimately be the public if restrictions end up being too onerous. Below for two articles on the expanding dilemma: To catch the bad guys in a high-tech world, the men and women in blue need high-tech tools:

(Washington Post, February 5, 2014)

Comment: As noted on this site repeatedly in the past, there is little doubt that the legal community needs to get out in front of this one. It is, however, unfortunate that those initial determinations will be made in hodgepodge fashion, rather than in a way that acknowledges from the start, the pursuit of crime often involves multiple jurisdictions.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

U.S. Government Fails Security Review of Cybersystems

In a report issued yesterday by the Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), numerous branches of the Federal Government were cited for their failures to adhere to basic concepts of cybersecurity. One of the most exgregious offenders mentioned was the Department of Homeland Security, which was found to have a bevy of its own problems despite being in charge of the cybersecurity for the entire Federal Government. Specifically mentioned was last February's hacking attack on FEMA's Emergency Alert System which resulted in a "Zombie Attack" warning being broadcast in the states of Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota. More:

(Washington Post, February 3, 2014)

(Minority Staff, HSGAC, February 4, 2014)

Comment: As noted in the report's title, cybersecurity and critical infrastructure are inherently intertwined. Vulnerabilities in cyber, lead to vulnerabilities and potential harm to critical infrastructure. However, the point often missed by many who mull this issue is that beyond systems traditionally thought of as critical infrastructure such as the electrical grid, tele-com systems, oil and gas pipelines, and transportation networks, there's another critical infrastructure that makes these other systems functionally possible in a highly developed and interwoven society - geospatial infrastructure. Chinese government hackers have figured this out, too bad the U.S. Government hasn't. For more on that issue, see:

(EPC Updates, February 20, 2013)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

NAPSG Announces Upgraded Web Services

Yesterday, the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) announced release of a substantially upgraded website. In addition to providing an enhanced user experience for visitors to NAPSG's home on the web, the site features the recently completed rebuild of the Capabilities & Readiness Assessment Tool (CARAT). As noted in the announcement, the CARAT completion is significant because it reflects:
...both new thinking and new technology. Thanks to our partnership with NSGIC and the DHS Geospatial Management Office, the new CARAT is designed to serve as a roadmap for anyone interested in learning about, building or directing a GIS program.
To learn more, go here:

Comment: As always - NAPSG rocks!  A previous post on this blog provides background on CARAT:

(EPC Updates, March 5, 2013)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Facial Recognition: VIP's to Soon Receive Same Treatment as Crooks

The concept is simple, but Orwellian. When a known shoplifter enters a store, a facial recognition system identifies the individual and then sends an email, text or SMS to staff cellphones. Pictures and biographical information can also be sent with the alert. Now, industry leaders in this technology like FaceFirst are revising and expanding their sales pitch. What's good enough for society's lower rung, is even better for its upper rung. Video and story link below:

(New York Times, February 1, 2014)

Comment: Ah, heck. With the bottom and top rungs covered, let's just get it over with all at once and do the middle rungs as well. Tie these systems to Facebook accounts or a Google image search and then our credit reports, and be done with it. That way there won't be any law suits over "Profiling". Everybody is getting the same creepy treatment.