Federal Consortium: Something for everyone

The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, which began nearly two years ago, is looking to address basic challenges with virtual world technology so that every agency does not have to start from scratch.

Security is a good example.

“Ninety percent of government can’t go to a virtual world from their desktops because of security reasons,” said Paulette Robinson, assistant dean of teaching, learning and technology at the National Defense University’s IRM College. “It requires a number of ports to be opened on the network so it makes it difficult for government to use virtual worlds.”

So Robinson, working with the technical working group of the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, which she started nearly two years ago, is testing a security system in which a government agency serves as a trusted source and electronically authenticates a user entering a virtual environment. This would give agencies a source to go to for multiagency work and would allow, for instance, participants from many different agencies to attend a virtual meeting.

This governmentwide approach, Robinson said, would give agencies breaks on software pricing, provide access to a broad 3-D content repository, and allow agencies to pool resources to share functionality. It costs a lot of money to create things such as buildings and cars in a virtual world, she said. “If the government has created 25 [virtual] Humvees, unless they’re classified, why shouldn’t they be available to everyone?” she asked.

Some of the virtual-world technologies that Robinson’s working group is exploring include products from Forterra Systems and ProtonMedia. The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, which held a conference last month, is trying to find ways virtual worlds can be used in government. “Education and training is the easiest leap to make,” Robinson said. “If you talk with any educator, they automatically see the potential.”

About the Author

Colleen O'Hara is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Wed, May 13, 2009 John McAdam AZ

Interesting article regarding security and accessibility of Virtual Worlds. I visited their website: http://ndu.edu/irmc/fedconsortium.html and noticed that they have their own virtual world accessible from the home page. Wow!! They use 3DXplorer (Meet in 3D), which seems to be the answer they have found. Do you confirm?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group