Business

  • Lack of oversight doomed SBInet, could hamper replacement

    The poor oversight and contractor management that hampered the recently cancelled SBInet could plague its replacement; numerous GAO reports blasted DHS for failing to properly communicate and supervise its primary contractor Boeing; the program suffered major cost overruns and failed to deliver on project goals due to limited input from end users, shifting priorities, and poor communication; in response to criticism, DHS has hired more contracting officers and is reviewing acquisition procedures; critics are skeptical of DHS’ ability to deliver SBInet’s replacement which incorporates much of the same technology

  • DHS and CBP make a pitch to border security vendors

    Boeing’s failure to provide a reliable border security solution has opened up opportunities for border protection technology vendors. These opportunities are offered by DHS’s proposed Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) acquisition program which aims to replace SBInet

  • Wind energy's dirty secret

    Vast tracts of land have been turned into toxic wastelands to fuel the increasing demand for green energy; rare Earth metals like neodymium are critical components in wind turbines and electric cars, but the process to extract them is damaging to the environment; China, the world’s largest supplier of rare Earth metals, has largely ignored environmental considerations and left Inner Mongolia a widening sea of radioactive waste; the United States is currently ramping up production of rare Earth minerals, but is seeking to find more sustainable production methods; wind power still has fewer environmental repercussions than coal or oil

  • Controversial nuclear reactor design moving toward approval

    A controversial new nuclear reactor design is moving ahead for approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); the chairman of the NRC announced that the agency would open the design for public comment before deciding whether to approve the reactor; critics of the proposed reactor, a Westinghouse AP1000, believe that in the event of an accident its safety measures are inadequate; if approved, the reactor could be used in as many as fourteen nuclear power plants

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  • Internet IPv4 addresses completely exhausted

    Last week the final blocks of IPv4 addresses were allocated, officially signaling the end of Web space on IPv4 networks; the moment is significant as all new Internet ready devices must now be deployed using IPv6 networks, the upgrade to IPv4; IPv6 offers greater security, higher performance, and can support nearly an infinite number of devices; China is rapidly pushing ahead with IPv6 in the hopes that it can wield more clout over the new Internet space as the United States currently enjoys with IPv4; China has deployed IPv6 capabilities at more than double the rate of the United States

  • U.S. firms looking to tap India's homeland security market

    Following President Obama’s state visit to India last November, trade between the two nations is set to grow rapidly and U.S. homeland security firms are eyeing India’s expanding markets; in the next three years, India is projected to spend more than $10 billion on homeland security technology products and services for border protection, surveillance, intelligence, marine security, and other critical security infrastructure needs; India’s civil aviation market is expected to become one of the top five aviation markets in the next five years and will likely need passenger screening technology, capabilities, and services; in the next fifteen years more than 500 million people — 50 percent of India’s population — will become a part of the country’s middle class causing airline passenger volume to skyrocket; trade between the United States and India is expected to exceed $50 billion for the first time this year

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  • Cobham acquires Baltimore surveillance specialists

    U.K.-based Cobham acquires Baltimore-based Corp Ten International; Corp Ten develops software to manage multiple tracking and surveillance devices in a single system, which allows real-time sharing of data and other communications between users through satellite, cellular, and radio frequency providers

  • Foreign orders for Mass.-built bomb-disposal robots

    Massachusetts-based robot maker received orders for twenty-seven additional bomb-disposal robots from unnamed international customers; the company has delivered bomb-disposal robots to more than twenty-five countries

  • iPhone app helps police "see" through walls

    Law enforcement officials are using SafetyNet Mobile, a powerful new iPhone app, to fight crime; the app allows police officers to quickly access all emergency dispatch information including maps, warnings, hazard information, and other critical data; to access the emergency dispatch database, the officer simply points the iPhone or iPad’s camera at a location; this technology allows police to “see” behind doors or walls by alerting them to any potential dangers inside; the app installs on any iPhone or iPad; SafetyNet Mobile has been successfully tested by three police departments in California and is currently being rolled out

  • N.C. law enforcement pistols no good

    North Carolina’s Alcohol Law Enforcement agency says 150 new pistols bought for their agents at $1,055 each were so unreliable they got rid of them; the Kimber .45-caliber pistols repeatedly malfunctioned during training exercises, with rounds jamming, sights breaking, and the weapons’ safety buttons sometimes falling off

  • Arab Silicon Valley plan raise fears of CPU shortages, security risks

    GlobalFoundries, originally part of U.S. No. 2 CPU manufacturer AMD, plans to spend $7 billion on a new chip fabrication facility in Abu Dhabi, the first in the Middle East; business and security experts say it is not a good idea to have a large segment of the U.S. and world economy depend on chips manufactured in an unstable, turmoil-prone region; the worry is not only that a hostile government coming to power would cut off computer components necessary for economnic activity and national security, but that foreign governments could build software or hardware into chips that could transmit confidential information

  • 2010: a year of costly disasters

    Altogether, a total of 950 natural catastrophes were recorded last year, nine-tenths of which were weather-related events like storms and floods; this total makes 2010 the year with the second-highest number of natural catastrophes since 1980, markedly exceeding the annual average for the last ten years (785 events per year); the overall losses amounted to around $130 billion, of which approximately $37 billion was insured; the five “great natural catastrophes” of 2010 — the earthquakes in Haiti (1/12), Chile (2/27), and central China (4/13), the heat wave in Russia (July to September), and the floods in Pakistan (July to September) — claimed approximately 295,000 lives

  • China stealth-jet maker eyes U.S. contracts

    Last month China shocked military analysts by unveiling its first stealth fighter; as is the case with many other Chinese technological advances, the technology was stolen from the United States, albeit indirectly: the Chinese fighter was made with technology from a U.S. stealth plane shot down in 1999 by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war; now, the Chinese manufacturer is teaming up with a small California company to bid on U.S. defense contracts, including contracts for stealth aircraft; the Chinese company also wants to bid on the contract to build the new generation of Marine One helicopters, which are used to transport the president (the U.S. president, not China’s)

  • Universal flu vaccine within sight

    People need to be vaccinated against flu every year because the flu virus is a scam artist: it uses a big, showy surface protein — and there are sixteen different varieties of this protein, called Hemagglutinin (HA) — to attract your immune system, then changes it so your immune system would not recognize it next time round; vaccines must thus change yearly to match it; scientists discover HA’s Achilles Heel: a vital part of the HA’s viral machinery does not vary much over time or between viruses, meaning that a vaccine based on the this part would be a universal flu vaccine

  • TSA halts private security screener program

    In an about face, the TSA has halted its private screening program at airports; last December the TSA declared that it was neutral on the program, however last Friday the TSA denied an airport in Missouri its request for private screeners and declared that it would reject all incoming proposals; Representative John Mica, a vocal advocate for the program, was shocked to hear of TSA’s new plan and promised to launch an investigation into the matter; currently less than twenty airports use private security screeners