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Friday, April 18, 2014

Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, (D-MD-2nd), the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence opened his morning address with a discussion of U.S. long-term plans for space. Warning that U.S. spending on space programs has fallen from 80% to near 20% of total global spending, the country needs to re-energize its space mission. His warning continued with a reminder to the audience that space initiatives are reliant on Russian RD81 rocket engines, under the current geo-political climate, is dangerous. He plans to push for legislation to secure new American-made rocket engines. Ruppersburger connected the needs of the American space program with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) imperative in education. In addition, he addressed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) modernization, stating "we can't have security without privacy, but we can't have privacy without security" and continued by recapping proposed FISA legislation that would ban the Federal government from collecting phone record metadata.

When asked if he had any thoughts about the private use of UAV's, he stated "it depends on what you're talking about. Of course there needs to be regulation ... control of the skies means control of the world" but his answer stopped short of what that might look like.

Photos courtesy of the USGIF 

by Wes Stroh on 04/18 at 04:35 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Mapping Medicare Dollars in Alabama

The data are from 2012, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Map by Tableau. I'm seeing that more and more in newspapers!

The map below shows payments to Alabama health care providers by ZIP code. You can choose to map either dollar amount or procedure volume, and you can filter by specialty of service provided. Larger circles for each ZIP represent larger totals relative to other places in the state. Hover over each ZIP for details.

Drug Pricing and Use

This map shows how the use of Lucentis, the most expensive of three drugs used to treat it [a chronic eye disease], varies across the country. The brightest reds show places where the vast majority of the money spent in treating the disease is spent on Lucentis; the deepest blues, shows places where most of the money spent treating the disease is spent on its cheaper alternatives.

There is not much of a pattern and interestingly, the three drugs used to treat it (cost roughly between $2000 and $50 per does ) are all equally effective. So, some other factor seems to be at play.

Geography May be the Answer to HIV Prevention

In a new paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, Amy Nunn, assistant professor of medicine, argues HIV should be tackled through a “geographic lens” — one that focuses on regionally targeted treatment and prevention. A focus on lower income areas may be the place to start.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 03:46 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Scott Jeffrey, Professor and Program Director, Geospatial Applications Program at Community College of Baltimore County, and Assistant Director / Senior Team member at the GeoTech Center, explained on a LinkedIn group that this year's contest was cancelled.

We have not been able to generate enough student participation to make the 2014 GeoTECH National Skills Competition a viable national competition. In spite of efforts to raise awareness of the contest in 2 year programs throughout the country there are only 8 students entered. It has been decided to cancel this years competition and to re-work the competition for next year. 

I'm hopeful a fresh start will draw more student participants in 2015.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 03:24 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, April 17, 2014

At the GEOINT Symposium in Tampa, a special session on national security was convened with representation from various sectors of local government. The workshop was led by Maj. Gen. William Reddell, The Adjutant General (TAG) for the State of New Hampshire. He is a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee and is unique in that he sits at the intersection of the federal and state level jurisdictions, especially in times of a local emergency management situation.

Leading off, Reddell said, "About 85% of time, all incidences are handled by the national guard on down. When we get overwhelmed then we ask for help from the national response network (NRF); if that gets overwhelmed, then we reach for the DSCA ( Defense Support to Civil Authorities) response team."

And in times of a crisis, information sharing about an incident must be administered adroitly and effectively if lives are to be saved. But much of the time the governance models are missing and arguing that certain departments are on a "need to know basis" are counterproductive and keeping data locked down can be a hindrance to mitigate disaster response. "It's all about relationships and trust to share data [but] how does that work when we change our jobs ever 2.7 years.

Speakers on the panel included a fire chief, a city mayor and a city GIS executive and account manager for a port authority. At the Port of Long Beach, California (an area that includes the Ports of Los Angeles)  40% of containers headed into US come through these ports. There are also 8.2 million people within 25 mile radius. Currently, the port manages the ingress and egress of ships with a common operational picture using an Esri solution. They have integrated 3D building information models as well as real-time information. Every morning, port executives review incident reports through the COP and integrate a variety of disparate data sources. It is a multi-participatory solution with many public safety agencies involved in contributing data.

Captain Steve Pollackov, Commanding Officer of the GIS Unit for the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) presented information on preparing for Super Bowl 48. Pollackov's challenge was also to provide information to multiple agencies to coordinate public safety but also how to deploy resources with the right information on a mobile platform. His question: "how can we share data when we are a closed circuit network?" He needed to get information to  public safety agencies including the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, fire departments in several jurisdictions as well as the Port Authority of NJ-NY. With help from Pen Bay Solutions, FDNY hosted an app on the Pen Bay servers to mitigate the problem with secure logins.

Tommy Hicks from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is trying ot "break down the cylinders of excellence" in the geospatial realm. A kind way of putting the siloed trouble spots where data can be locked down for no apparent reason. The IAFC has established  the iChief Platform a suite of apps that uses a SQL Server data operating in 21 states. The application includes  dispatching,  analytics,  inventory tracking and situational awareness.

Mayor Tommy Battle from the City of Huntsville, Alabama, discussed the "Blueprint for Safety, a pilot initiative  that demonstrates how existing and emerging technologies can enhance geospatial intelligence gathering through information sharing platforms to improve multi-jurisdictional rapid response.  The Mayor discussed a variety of new on-demand, online, self-service technologies and methods, one of which is a new toolset created by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) Integrated Working Group - Readiness, Response, and Recovery (IWG-R3) team for public safety use. Huntsville will utilize the NGA's workflow tool suite of open source code that will be made available on GitHub.

From each of these efforts, local government public safety agencies taking action to make sure that in the event of the next emergency that not only is their geospatial platform ready to handle data sharing and the deployment of resources but that their governance model is in place to rapidly make it all happen. Reddell commented, "At the end of the day the American people will judge you by three things: did you save my life; did you reduce human suffering, and did you protect  my property.

by Joe Francica on 04/17 at 03:22 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Robert Cardillo, the Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) closed out this year's GEOINT 2013* Symposium keynotes midday Thursday, stating that his address was the appropriate bookend to his superior DNI Clapper's opening session on Tuesday.  Adding to Clapper's three S's, Sequestration, Snowden and Syria, Cardillo adding a 4th "S", Soviet, as a proxy for Russia and the emerging problem in the Ukraine.

At this point he reminded the audience that the world has evolved, it's more connected, and the intelligence community (IC) has to embrace and leverage capabilities in this new environment to remain viable.  A nod to NGS Director Tish Long's address, he pointed out that immersion is about overcoming technical inhibitions, but it's also about overcoming cultural ones following that "integration is not an object, not an endpoint, but a state."  He's heartened by Dir. Clapper's continued leadership of the IC, along with Dir. Long and many others--"there has been and will be 5-7 years of continuous integration with support from leadership" above.  One result is the creation of National Intelligence Managers who create motivation, space and conditions for conversations which otherwise might not exist.  Currently totaling 17, he provided examples of subjects such as "Korea" or "Finance" as subjects areas around which these conversations are built.

Earlier Thursday morning, during a press only briefing, when asked to explain "in plain words" his own job title, in effect, what intelligence integration really is, he said that position was created to merge responsibilities for analysis and collection together--a quick look at his bio explains his appropriate match for this position.  Cardillo is responsible for finalizing the morning Oval Office briefing for Dir. Clapper, usually spends his afternoons with other deputies in the National Security Council, and at the end of his day finalizes "the book"--the President's Daily Brief--also for Dir. Clapper.  In addition he's responsible for overseeing the National Intelligence Council--the group of aforementioned National Intelligence Managers.

When asked during the public address how the IC can address some of the historic disincentives to integration, he acknowledged that spending in stovepipes is often a roadblock.  The key is to reward the behavior you want.  How and by what incentives?  Those who engage in the marketplace will be rewarded with new levels of understanding--those who don't choose to engage will fall behind.

In both the morning briefing and the midday address he made a comparison between the cases for WMD in Iraq and in Syria.  With Iraq "we veered, we got off track" but with Syria, later, "we not only learned from our mistakes but we also employed what we learned."  He continued "we have to get good at telling our story and telling it publicly."  In the morning press briefing, Cardillo was asked about sharing with allies (including new "allies", such as Ukraine).  "There are risks--people we don't want to have information might get ahold of it.  We also consider what we think recipients will with with information--become overly alarmed or become overly confident?"  When asked what he recommended in the case of Ukraine, he paused:  "My job is to give the decision maker the choice--I empathize with the challenge of what to do--our papers have nice columns in black and white, but it's often grey."  More important, says Cardillo, is to consider 1) why does the President need to know X? 2) why now? and 3) can he do something with it now?  He shared that "the President likes to think contextually about a problem set.  That doesn't mean he needs to know satellite backflips or Gigahertz information.  The President respects the profession and trusts us to manage what's under the hood."

A photographic interpreter early on in his career, he said to the GEOINT community "I'm personally proud to turn in your homework everyday."  However, he feels that while "GEOINT's competitive advantage in intel is its openness, that openess is also its weakness."  Previously "the world was wired differently--we no longer have a monopoly, but we're getting over that."  In closing out his public remarks he stressed "if we don't embrace non-traditional, unprotected sources of information, we'll fade away.  Putting up those barriers undermines our mission."

Photo provided courtesy of USGIF

by Wes Stroh on 04/17 at 03:10 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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