Air Force conference notes: Wireless interference

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Budget problems could push back some wireless networking pilot projects at the Air Mobility Command.

Since 1998, AMC has been testing the use of wireless technology to feed data to some of its core logistics applications. During the coming year, AMC officials had planned to run pilots at a handful of bases throughout the Combat Information Transport System program. But CITS could see some cuts in the fiscal 2005 budget, which could delay the pilots, according to an AMC representative here at this week's Air Force Information Technology Conference.

Still, AMC officials are pleased with what they have seen already. Wireless — in particular radio frequency identification (RFID) technology — has proven its value on the flight line, fuel line and numerous other areas, the representative said.

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Engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., hope to spark interest in an intrusion detection tool they have developed for wireless networks.

The Wireless Intrusion Detection Sensor (WIDS) was designed to help detect unauthorized users or attackers before they can do any harm. But it also monitors a network for any violations of wireless policy, such as misconfigurations and unauthorized operations. The data can be tailored to feed commercial network management systems, such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView.

WIDS was originally developed as a proof of concept for the Air Force Battle Laboratory at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Now Rome engineers are trying to get the word out to the Air Force at large, said Jeannine Rose, a senior field engineer with Cole Innovations.

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Government agencies, particularly the Defense Department, are interested in RFID technology, and now HP's leader says her company is working with agencies such as the Homeland Security Department to develop ways to use the technology for tracking parts and other jobs.

IT companies have been slow to get into the RFID market. IBM Corp. jumped in some time ago, but Sun Microsystems Inc. officials only announced their entry in early May, for example, and HP officials made their intentions clear a week later.

Carly Fiorina, HP's chairman and chief executive officer, told the conference audience that HP's distribution hookups with merchandizing giants Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble Co., both RFID pioneers, as well its own extensive global buy-and-sell network are reasons to think of HP as a leader in what they believe will be a $3 billion market by 2008.

About the Authors

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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