Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Event inspires AFRL workforce, future scientists and engineers

by Derek Hardin
Air Force Research Laboratory


1/27/2016 - DAYTON, Ohio -- "No matter what you do, the Air Force is counting on you to make a difference. You are all Department of Defense research scientists -- you're comic book characters ... you make the stuff that supports heroes."

These words from Air Force Research Laboratory materials engineer Dr. Jeff Calcaterra, were one of many inspirational messages shared with attendees during the inaugural AFRL Inspire event, held Oct. 28, 2015, at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio.

AFRL Inspire is a series of talks which seeks to energize and motivate the current and next generation of Air Force scientists and engineers. Inspired by the popular TED Talks series, AFRL Inspire consists of presentations by AFRL researchers who have made important discoveries, solved complex technical challenges, developed new Air Force capabilities, and directly impacted the safety and mission success of the warfighter.

Calcaterra's talk, "Good Engineers Save Lives," described AFRL's role in aircraft mishap investigations and emphasized that everyone at AFRL plays an important role in the Air Force mission.

The other AFRL presenters and talks included:

· Dr. Nandini Iyer, AFRL Research Audiologist - "The Party Must Go On," a discussion of how computers are learning to differentiate and isolate sounds in a crowd in an effort to assist the warfighter, similar to how people can distinguish individual voices at a cocktail party.

· Dr. Moriba Jah, AFRL Aerospace Engineer - "Space Junk: The Unknown Orbital Iceberg," an examination of the dire need to monitor and catalogue thousands of space debris orbiting Earth in an effort to keep communication and other vital satellites safe.

· "Rufus," Air Force Fighter Pilot and Test Pilot - "Better Than Lucky," a discussion of how AFRL's Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology is helping to save the lives of pilots, like himself.

· Dr. Robert Fugate, retired AFRL Research Physicist - "Fire in the Sky," a presentation of the 20-year evolution of Laser-guided Adaptive Optics, a revolutionary technology which allows scientists to view the universe with unparalleled clarity.

Noted futurist and author of novels on 21st century warfare, Dr. Pete Singer, was the event's guest speaker. His talk, "From Fiction to Reality - Lessons to be Learned from Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War," based around his novel of the same name, presented an exploration of what war could be like in the future.

The AFRL Inspire event series is the brainchild of Dr. Dan Berrigan, AFRL Materials Research Engineer, and Kerianne Gross, AFRL Aerospace Engineer. The duo had teamed up at a development workshop to discover new and creative ways to promote an environment of autonomy, mastery, and purpose among the AFRL workforce. They were drawn to the storytelling framework of the TED Talks series because their modern structure is a well-received method of training, and it would allow AFRL scientists and engineers to share the stories behind their amazing work.

"We then presented our idea to Dr. Morley Stone, AFRL's chief technology officer," said Gross.  "He agreed emphatically and said, 'Go do it!'"

In the months that followed, Berrigan and Gross -- along with the AFRL Inspire Committee, numerous multimedia contributors, and event planners -- worked diligently to create an event that would possess a look and feel like no other AFRL event before it.

"The Inspire team went above and beyond, creating a uniquely modern and engaging event," Stone said. "The high quality and inspiring talks from our presenters really demonstrated the amazing people and work that goes on at AFRL, from the lab's beginnings to the present day. It has been an honor to be a part of this event."

Gross described AFRL Inspire as a uniquely modern opportunity for AFRL scientists and engineers to highlight their research and share the stories behind it.

"It's a chance as an organization to communicate our work in a new way, to inspire future scientists and engineers, to attract top talent to the lab, and to tell the folks outside the fence what exactly it is that we are doing in those beige and grey square buildings," Gross said.

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News
New Smartphone App Lets You Tip-off Syracuse Police
WRVO, (01/01/2016), Ellen Abbott

SPD Tips, a smartphone app for both Apple and Android phones, allows citizens to anonymously contact the Syracuse (N.Y.) Police Department. The department launched the app as a companion to the tips link on its website because so many people use smartphone texting as their preferred method of communication. Link to Article

U.S. Airports to Roll Out Facial-Recognition Software to Catch Fake Passports
Washington Times, (01/21/2016), Andrea Noble
U.S. Customs and Border Protection began a phased roll-out this week of facial recognition software to help verify the identity of travelers entering the United States. CBP began using the software at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and the technology will be implemented at all international airports in the country in the near future. U.S. citizens returning to the country and first-time visitors from the 38 countries allowed to enter the United States without a visa will be photographed and run through the system.
Link to Article


Pittsburgh Police Praise ShotSpotter; City May Extend Contract, Expand System
Pittsburgh Tribune, (01/26/2016), Bob Bauder

The Pittsburgh City Council recently introduced legislation for a one-year extension to its contract with the company that provides its gunshot detection equipment and services. A city official said the technology has directed police to shooting scenes and helped them apprehend suspects. Its picks up and identifies gunfire within a three-mile radius.
Link to Article


Corrections News
Technology Could Help Fight Cell Phone Use in AL Prisons
WTVM.com, (01/21/2016), Hannah Lane

The Alabama Department of Corrections has requested budgetary funding to install managed access systems throughout the state's correctional facilities in order to prevent contraband cell phones from sending and receiving calls and text messages. The estimated cost is $1 million per facility, but could result in a cost savings by reducing the need for physical searches for cell phones. The technology has been in use in Mississippi since 2010, where it has seen good success.
Link to Article


State Prisons Turn to Telemedicine to Improve Health and Save Money
Government Technology, (01/21/2016), Michael Ollove

More states continue to implement the use of telemedicine to treat some correctional inmates because it keeps them from having to transport potentially dangerous prisoners outside the facilities; also, more doctors are willing to treat correctional patients using telemedicine. The result is increased access to better health care for prisoners and decreased medical costs for the state.
Link to Article


Free Computers for Inmates? It's Latest Deal at Sacramento County Jail
Sacramento Bee, (1/18/2016), Sam Stanton

Inmates in the Sacramento County Main Jail can participate in a pilot program to use tablet computers to take GED, parenting and domestic violence prevention classes. If they earn enough points from studying, they can also watch preapproved movies and listen to music. The county hopes to expand the program beyond the 40 pilot tablets to a total of 500. Funds from commissary and other inmate purchases are paying for the devices.
Link to Article


Feds Indict 51 in South Georgia Prison Cellphone Scam
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (01/21/2016), Bill Rankin

In Georgia, prosecutors have returned 13 indictments that charge 51 people with being part of a fraud and money laundering scheme run from inside Autry State Prison. Those indicted include 15 current or former inmates and 19 former prison officials. Inmates allegedly used contraband cell phones to carry out the scheme.
Link to Article


N.J. Court Upholds Lie Detector Tests for Sex Offenders
NJ.com, (01/22/2016), S.P. Sullivan

A New Jersey appeals court has upheld the state parole board's using polygraph tests to monitor sex offenders who are no longer in prison. Five convicted sex offenders whose sentences included lifetime supervision had filed suit arguing that use of the tests amounted to coerced interrogation and violated their constitutional rights. The court did find that the test results alone could not be used to justify punishment and the state must protect the offenders' right against self-incrimination.
Link to Article


You've Got Mail: The Promise of Cyber Communication in Prisons and the Need for Regulation
Prison Policy Initiative, (01/12/2016), Stephen Raher

As prisons look into and begin adopting new technologies such as video visitation and electronic messaging for prisoners, there are concerns that adopting these new technologies will become yet another way to generate revenue from inmates and their families, similar to the issues that surround telephone services in correctional facilities. Such a focus may choke off potential ways to improve quality of life for incarcerated persons and their families. In this article, an in-depth analysis of existing and emerging technologies yields recommendations about how to handle communication among inmates and their families going forward.
Link to Article

SecAF testifies on military space launch



By Senior Airman Hailey Haux, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, on military space launch and the use of Russian-made rocket engines Jan. 27.

During her testimony, James highlighted space capabilities’ role in national security, the importance of modernization and the need for end-to-end space launch services.

“The U.S. relies upon space as an essential element of our national security,” James said in her opening statement. “Space provides us with the ability to operate effectively around the world, to understand what our own forces are doing and to stay ahead of our adversaries. Space is key to projecting credible and effective power around the world to support our allies and deter aggression.”

Maintaining the advantage requires the ability to modernize and replenish space architecture through a reliable launch capability, which remains the Air Force’s number one space priority, James continued.

Assured access to space requires end-to-end space launch services and not just a rocket engine, James said in her written testimony.

“The Department would strongly prefer not to fund a rocket engine alone because a rocket alone will not get us to space,” James said. “We need an entire capability, not just one single component. We need to expand on our horizon and keep focusing on the launch capability in its totality of which the engine is a key component, but it’s not the only component.”

The Air Force has been operating in space for decades and remains dedicated to maintaining its advantage. Exploring types of rocket propulsion systems in a competitive way could lead to having new competitors and new capabilities for space access.

“There are fantastic developments in the commercial world,” James said. “We are following them, we are celebrating them, and we are putting some of our resources, time and energy toward trying to get them there because we will all benefit from it.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

GPS IIF-12 launch team to hold media teleconference

by Space and Missile Systems Center
Public Affairs


1/27/2016 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE - EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-12 government/contractor mission launch team will host a media teleconference on Jan. 29, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. PST/ 9:30 a.m. MST/ 10:30 a.m. CST/ 11:30 a.m. EST to discuss the upcoming launch, scheduled for no earlier than Feb. 4 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The launch support team will discuss details of this final launch of the GPS IIF series of satellites and will be available for questions. Team members who will be on the teleconference include (subject to change):

Col. Steve Whitney, director, Global Positioning Systems Directorate;
Dr. Walter Lauderdale, GPS IIF-12 mission director;
Capt. Alexander Blackwell, 1st Range Operations Squadron;
Munzir Badawi, Boeing GPS IIF program manager, and;
Laura Maginnis, United Launch Alliance Vice President, Custom Services


Media representatives wishing to participate in this media event should RSVP to SMC's Public Affairs office by sending an e-mail to smcpa.media@us.af.mil NLT 7:30 a.m. Jan. 29.  Advance questions on this topic can also be submitted to the e-mail address listed above.

Defense Department Experts to Support HHS with Zika Virus Research



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2016 — Defense Department experts who have experience working with the Zika virus have been asked to support the Department of Health and Human Services in its efforts related to the mosquito-borne disease, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

In a briefing with defense reporters, Peter Cook said the department has been asked to support HHS in its efforts to convene experts and stakeholders, specifically in the research area.

“This is an area where the DoD has done some research in the past,” he added, “and I think some of that expertise will be brought to this effort. We'll be supporting HHS in whatever way we can.”

Travelers to the United States from countries where mosquitoes carry the virus could bring the disease here, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Zika Transmission

Local transmission of Zika virus has not been identified in the continental United States, CDC officials said, but limited local transmission, rather than widespread transmission, of Zika could occur.

Cook said Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work attended a meeting yesterday that President Barack Obama convened at the White House with leaders of his health and national security teams.

Other attendees included Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

The experts discussed the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses in the Americas and steps being taken to protect the American public, according to a White House summary of the meeting.

Mosquito-Borne Transmission

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Zika virus spreads to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, or red eyes.

The illness usually is mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, CDC officials said.

In May, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert about the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. That outbreak, CDC officials said, led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and women giving birth to babies with birth defects and having “poor pregnancy outcomes.”

In response, CDC issued the travel alert.

Guillain-Barre is a rare disorder in which the immune system damages nerve cells, and CDC will conduct a study in Brazil to determine if a relationship exists between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Accelerating Research

At the White House, the experts briefed Obama on factors that could affect the potential spread of Zika virus in the United States, and on travel advisories and guidance for domestic health care providers who care for pregnant women.

Obama also was briefed on the potential economic and developmental impacts of Zika virus spreading in the Western Hemisphere.

During the meeting, the White House summary said, Obama emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make better diagnostic tests available, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to make sure that all Americans have information about Zika virus and steps they can take to protect themselves from infection.