Science and Technology News

Friday, February 5, 2016

GPS tracking Super Bowl 50

by James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

Whether you're cheering for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers - or just waiting to see the new TV commercials - the constellation of satellites known as the Global Positioning System will be there. The program that originated with the heritage organizations known today as the Space and Missile Systems Center will play a silent, but important role in professional football's biggest showcase.

Football players with the Carolina Panthers and other NFL teams have started using GPS technology for tracking a player's heart rate, pace, speed, step balance, dynamic stress loads, force of impact by an opponent and other valuable data during practices that could be worth millions. Originally used in another kind of football called soccer, these GPS devices fit in the palm of your hand and are worn under a player's pads, allowing sports physicians to monitor various vital signs much the same way NASCAR engineers monitor a car's engine on the racetrack.

Football fans heading to northern California this week will have no other choice but to rely on GPS to get them around Super Bowl 50 venues, the most spread out in history. Consider these logistical facts:

The NFL Experience, pro football's interactive theme park, is headquartered at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. Fans following the Carolina Panthers team are based in San Jose, 48 miles south down U.S. Route 101. The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, are based in Santa Clara, 45 miles south, where Sunday's game will be played at Levi's Stadium.

During Super Bowl 50, GPS devices will be used extensively to track and monitor the location of team members and officials. GPS is used to ensure event organizers and security know the exact location of team vehicles en route to Levi's stadium. If a vehicle were to break down delaying the arrival of a team or game staff to the event, logistics and scheduling would have to be adjusted accordingly.

At the same time, GPS technology will be used to help the influx of football fanatics visiting the fabled "City by the Bay."  Super Bowl 50 fans can access a social mobile application which provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation, based on the live conditions of the road. This essentially lets the local community of drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area help first-time visitors get around during Super Bowl Week.

The city of San Jose, with the help of a startup, will use GPS technology to help visitors better enjoy their stay through a new smartphone app. Built exclusively for Super Bowl 50 by the Super Bowl 50 Hosting Committee, the ROAD TO 50 app showcases all of the Super Bowl celebrations around the San Francisco Bay Area, again by using GPS technology.

From transportation information to photos and videos, the ROAD TO 50 app has it all. Within the app, fans can explore Super Bowl 50 activities such as:

Events: A schedule of events helps fans find all the details for the major events, including hours of operation, ticket info and more. Fans can add these events to their calendars to create a personalized Super Bowl 50 itinerary.

Maps: Fans can explore interactive maps of the San Francisco Bay Area that include events such as NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, the 50th Mile and Super Bowl City.

Location-based alerts: Super Bowl 50 fans can stay up-to-date with all of the happenings around the area.

The ROAD TO 50 app, utilizing GPS technology originally created by the military and managed by the U.S. Air Force as a free utility to the world, is available on most smartphones in use today. The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee hopes it will be a "must-have" app for any football fan in the San Francisco Bay Area during the lead up to Super Bowl 50.

GPS is the United States Department of Defense's largest satellite constellation with 31-operational satellites on orbit.
Operated by Air Force Space Command's 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, located east of Colorado Springs, Colo., the GPS constellation provides precise positioning, navigation and timing services worldwide as a free service provided by the Air Force, seven days a week, 24-hours a day.

Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

45th SW supports Air Force GPS IIF-12 launch aboard an Atlas V

by 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2016 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.  -- The 45th Space Wing supported the U.S. Air Force's twelfth launch of a Boeing-built Global Positioning System IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Space Launch Complex 41 here Feb. 5 at 8:38 a.m. EST.

"Today's launch marks a momentous milestone in the history of the Global Positioning System. It is the twelfth and last GPS IIF satellite and closes out nearly 27 years of launches for the GPS Block II family of satellites," said Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 45th SW vice commander, who served as the Launch Decision Authority. "As the nation's premier gateway to space, we are proud to be part of the team providing GPS and its capabilities to the world and look forward to the future as we begin preparation for the next generation of GPS III satellites. Together with the Space and Missile Systems Center and our industry partners, we make up one team delivering assured space launch and combat capabilities for the nation."

An Airmen-led processing team at CCAFS has processed every satellite of the series since GPS IIF-1 launched here in May 2010.

"This is a significant milestone for GPS, the 50th GPS satellite to be delivered on-orbit," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Officer for Space.  "The GPS IIF satellite performance has been exceptional and is expected to be operational for years to come."

This mission proves the Air Force's dedication to deliver pre-eminent space-based positioning, navigation and timing service to users around the globe. GPS is the Department of Defense's largest satellite constellation with 31-operational satellites on orbit. GPS IIF is critical to U.S. national security and to sustainment of the GPS constellation for civil, commercial and military users. Originally designed for the military user, GPS has become a global utility depended upon by more than two billion users worldwide. Even 45th SW personnel rely on GPS satellites currently on orbit to track most missions they launch from the Eastern Range at CCAFS.

Eastern Range instrumentation provides radar tracking, telemetry, communications, command/control sites, camera and optical sites, and other support capabilities such as meteorology. Instrumentation is necessary to safely and successfully conduct civil, commercial, and national security spacelift operations and ballistic missile tests and evaluation. Eastern Range assets are based on dependable designs and technology, and are arrayed in a highly efficient architecture designed to ensure safety of the launch environment and the public at large.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
New Forensics Research Center to Develop Tools to Improve Law Enforcement's Investigation Capabilities, (01/26/2016), Justin Lee

A new joint U.S.-Chinese forensic technology research center aims to develop new tools and applications for rapid DNA tests, improved facial recognition and fingernail biometrics, according to a published report. The New Haven Register reported that the new research center is a collaboration between the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science and Beijing's China University of Political Science and Law. Under a five-year agreement, students and faculty from the two universities will also develop tools for digital forensic investigation, case management and evaluation, and robotics for investigating crime scenes.
Link to Article

Cleveland Police Department Implements New Community Relations Initiative
Times Free Press, (01/28/2016), Paul Leach

The Cleveland Police Department in Tennessee has a new Community Relations Unit that combines public outreach and accreditation functions. The unit will be responsible for reviewing policies and maintaining the department's accreditation, crime prevention, public relations and public information functions.
Link to Article

Framingham PD to Increase Staffing in Narcotics, Domestic Violence Units
The MetroWest Daily News, (01/27/2016), Jim Haddadin

The Framingham Police Department in Massachusetts will use a state grant to fund its Narcotics Unit and add staff for investigating domestic violence. The $81,133 grant is part of a $4 million grant program administered by the Department of Public Safety. The Narcotics Unit had gone from four officers to two, and plans to add a domestic violence investigator had been previously dropped. The department responded to more than 30 drug overdoses and more than 500 hundred domestic disputes during the first nine months of 2015 alone, according to the department's grant application.
Link to Article

MEMS to Buy Vests to Protect Little Rock Medics, (01/27/2016), Scott Carrol

Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services of Little Rock, Ark., plans to buy ballistic-resistant body armor for its medics. Ambulance crews have not worn bullet-resistant gear since the mid-1990s, during the height of gang violence in the city. Officials estimate buying new armor for the agency's 220 uniformed personnel will cost about $150,000.
Link to Article

Corrections News
New Device Helps Inmates Learn and Communicate
WFXL (01/31/2016), Donovan Long

Georgia inmates are using customized tablets to access educational materials and connect with their families. The Georgia Offender Alternative Learning devices also come preloaded with inmate handbooks. The tablets do not allow access to the Internet. Inmates can use the devices to email or video chat with their families.
Link to Article

Pima Seeks Grant to Cut Jail Population
Arizona Daily Star, (01/31/2016), Patrick McNamara

Pima County in Arizona is seeking nearly $3 million in grant funding to address factors that can affect jail overcrowding. The grant, requested through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, would help the county increase pretrial screening, expand weekend court sessions to resolve outstanding warrants, improve data collection, add more home monitoring for sentenced offenders and create an automated court-date reminder system for defendants awaiting adjudication. The grant funds would be used for additional criminal justice workers and for purchasing the technology needed to implement the changes.
Link to Article

Powhatan Prison Locked Down for Weeks After Smuggling Attempt, Drone Overflight
Richmond Times-Dispatch, (02/01/2016), Frank Green

An attempt to smuggle a cellphone, ammunition and other contraband hidden in a basketball into a Virginia prison, followed by a drone overflight six days later, has resulted in a lengthy lockdown of the facility. The lockdown at the Powhatan Reception and Classification Center began on January 14 when authorities caught two people attempting to enter a job fair being held on the compound grounds that houses the prison. The two were apparently trying to smuggle tobacco, cellphones, knives and 9 mm bullets into the facility that were hidden inside a basketball. The facility was placed on lockdown and searched. On January 20, a drone was seen flying over the correctional facility's property, prompting a second search. Nothing is known to have dropped from a drone into the facility, officials said. The lockdown was eased somewhat February 1 to a modified lockdown, which means inmates can leave their cells but have to stay in their living areas.
Link to Article

Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles in Federal Prisons
The Washington Post, (01/26/2016), Juliet Eilperin

President Obama has announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences. In an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit "low-level infractions" with solitary confinement. The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.
Link to Article

Alabama Man Serving Life Sentence for Murder Caught Live Streaming From Prison, (01/21/2016), Erin Edgemon

An Alabama man serving a life sentence for killing a man in 2011 faces new charges after being caught live streaming via social media from prison. While in prison at Elmore Correctional Facility, Devin Williamson, 26, created a Facebook page, and opened Periscope and GoFundMe accounts, according to Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton. He said Williamson admitted to creating the pages and live streaming videos from the Periscope app. Officials confiscated Williamson's cell phone and contacted the providers of the social media accounts, who shut them down. Williamson was transferred to another correctional facility and is charged with illegal possession of a cell phone and unlawful participating in social media.
Link to Article

Drone Legislation Crashes in Colorado Legislature
The Durango Herald, (01/26/2016), Peter Marcus

Legislation that would have clarified that it is illegal to use a drone to drop contraband into a prison has been withdrawn from consideration in the Colorado legislature. The bill would have applied to unlawfully operating a drone within 1,000 feet of a detention facility with the intent of introducing contraband. Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, who introduced the legislation, asked the House Judiciary Committee to kill the bill after opponents raised several concerns, including that prohibiting drone flights within 1,000 feet of a prison could prevent photographers and videographers from accessing areas that are otherwise legal to capture.
Link to Article

50th Space Wing leads with SMF initial capability

by Jennifer Thibault
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

2/2/2016 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Space Wing is leading the command as the first to successfully achieve Space Mission Force initial capability. On Feb. 1, 50th Operations Group crews "rolled forward" in support of Air Force Space Command's transformation of the entire Space Mission Enterprise heralding the beginning of a substantial cultural and organizational shift to ensure the entire space force is prepared to fight through and win in a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment.

"Through the Space Mission Force construct we are revamping our crews to respond appropriately in a dynamic environment," said Col. DeAnna M. Burt, 50th Space Wing commander. "We are aligning to be more consistent with the Air Force, which will allow us to focus on advanced training to prepare our forces to effectively deal with the threats they have today."

To the wing, this transition involved personnel structure and training program changes. In October 2015, the operations crews shifted to a four month rotation during which time the members are part of the Space Mission Task Force performing the operational mission. These forces are presented to the United States Strategic Command commander for combatant command requirements. The bulk of the remaining operations personnel enter a dwell period in order to tackle advanced training to prepare for the mission in a contested environment.

"This normalizes our force presentation and training program with other Air Force readiness forces," said Col. Dennis Bythewood, 50th Operations Group commander who oversees the bulk of the units primarily involved in the transition here. "This not only ensures that we can meet our nation's current need for enduring space capabilities, but also delivers dedicated training time to ensure our space forces can deliver those same space effects in an increasingly contested space domain."

The SMF construct establishes a Ready Spacecrew Program that provides for continuation training aimed at maintaining spacecrew proficiency as well as advanced training that is designed to advance the skills, knowledge, and competencies required to accomplish the mission in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment.  This program includes all the personnel required to successfully perform combatant commander missions in the face of dynamic and varied threats.

"This transition impacts more than our satellite operations personnel," said Bythewood. "We've added our mission planning and intelligence personnel required to execute the mission, for example, to the forces presented to USSTRATCOM. These forces are actively engaged in the combatant commander's site picture for what resources are needed to execute the mission."

SMF establishes a distinct dwell time for crews to conduct advanced training as well as overhauls how training, evaluations and assessments, proficiency and crew force management are accomplished.

"During the dedicated dwell time, we'll review new threats and teach crews how to respond and work through threats in order to continue to provide global combat effects," said Bythewood. "We're stepping through all of these changes at once but I know it will take a couple cycles for us to normalize these changes and make additional adjustments as needed to meet the intent of the Air Force Space Command commander, General John Hyten. This major shift in how we do business comes on the heels of our 75th anniversary as an operations group and no doubt lays the foundation for the great achievements that await us."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Water babies class helps develop infant's brain

by Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/3/2016 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Where can parents and babies go to meet other parents and develop their children? The Family Advocacy Water Babies class at the Fitness Center works to build Fairchild's youngest brains.

The class teaches parents to bond with their kids and how to help develop the gross and fine motor skills. The sessions start with singing and repetitive behavior for the kids. They learn not only through the parents and eye contact but music and movement helps neuro development for both sides of the brain, said Mary (Puffett) Cook, 92nd Medical Group new parent support program nurse.

Cook and Susanna Senent, 92nd MDG Family Advocacy program assistant, teach the water babies class.

"We have our classes Wednesdays at 11 a.m. at the Fitness Center pool. Both moms and dads can come, but it's one parent in the pool with their child," Cook said. "The cost is two dollars and they have to have a little swimmer diaper."

"The age group is 8 weeks to 36 months or 3 years old," she said. "Every child is catered to based on what they are able to do. We don't expect an 8 week old to be able to do what a 36 month old can."

Parents will bring their children to the class so they can interact with their peers. In some cases this is the first time they have seen other babies, Cook said.

Jenny Pierson, a participant and stay at home mom, stated that the socialization her child gets is great, especially since she is an only child.

"Nurse Puffett is great about going over the developmental aspects and reassuring new moms that things are good," Pierson said. "She goes over what we can do to help grow certain skills with our kids."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

DoD Tech Office to Hold Small-Business Town Hall

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2016 — In an increasingly competitive and fast-moving global environment, the Defense Department relies on technical innovation to maintain the U.S. advantage over potential adversaries, defense officials said in a recent interview with DoD News.

With that reality in mind, the newly formed Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, will host a town hall-style gathering of experts Feb. 18 between 4 and 6 p.m., to help companies better understand available resources and introduce key local California contacts, the officials added.

The event, called "Decoding DoD," will be held at DIUx's facility in Mountain View, California, and it will include time for networking and one-on-one meetings with service small business representatives immediately following the formal presentation and Q&A, the officials said.

Renewing the Partnership

Experts from DIUx, contracting officers, and representatives from DoD’s Office of Small Business Programs and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office-Silicon Valley will be in attendance.

The session will be interactive and offer a chance for conversations with key DoD personnel to identify technology that can potentially benefit the nation’s security, officials said.

"The primary mission of DIUx is to be a nexus between technology ecosystems that traditionally don't work with the DoD, identifying potential capability solutions and matching them to the right customers within the Services," said George Duchak, director of DIUx.

DIUx identifies potential solutions and matches them to the right customers, contracts and funding sources in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Value to Small Business

Officials noted the value the Defense Department offers to small businesses by introducing a company’s technology to potential DoD customers, testing technology in real-world applications, and funding technology maturation.

A DoD partnership can make this happen without diluting the equity of founders or investors, they said.

Officials from the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency also will participate in the meeting, providing specific and current capabilities of interest to help them meet their mission.

As Defense Secretary Ash Carter said last April during a visit to Silicon Valley, “Through successes and strains, our ties [with Silicon Valley] have broadly endured … but I believe we must renew the bonds of trust and rebuild the bridge between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley. Renewing our partnership is the only way we can do this right."

Topics of Discussion

Town hall topics include:

-- Resources and opportunities for a small business to work with DoD;

-- Translating the contracting alphabet: From broad agency announcements to other transaction authorities, DoD is leveraging new contracting options to work with Silicon Valley businesses;

-- Opportunities and technology areas of interest to DoD;

-- Intellectual Property: Myth busting; and

-- Local government resources in the area, including DIUx, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office-Silicon Valley, and service small business innovation research offices.

"This small business town hall and other future DIUx-sponsored events are an effort to break down some of the barriers that have been built up over the years and to accelerate the flow of ideas and new technology from Silicon Valley and elsewhere into the DoD,” Duchak said.