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Analyzing the F-35, fighting algal blooms and strategic planning at DHS

Wikimedia image: The U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay.

The U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay. (Image: Wikimedia)

Splunk analytics to monitor operations on F-35

Lockheed-Martin has tapped Splunk to supply analytics software to monitor systems and performance data on its F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters.

The F-35 is the centerpiece of the $400 billion Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report found that delays in testing software threatened to hold up progress on the overall program. More recently, news reports indicated that problems were emerging in the custom, computer-integrated helmets that give pilots 360-degree views from aircraft mounted cameras, and which cost about $400,000 each.

Splunk software will be deployed on Lockheed's Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the ground-based system that collects data from the fleet of aircraft. The goal is for Splunk software to provide insights into aircraft and IT system performance.

"F-35 aircraft are flying data centers that generate a massive amount of information on each flight. The IT systems and applications supporting this program are essential, and Splunk Enterprise's role is to support daily ALIS operations," Splunk VP Bill Cull said in a statement.

Agencies unite to fight algal blooms

A new $3.6 million, multiagency effort will transform satellite data designed to probe ocean biology into information that can protect the American public from harmful freshwater algal blooms.

The effort, which involves the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey and NASA, will harness ocean color satellite data to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems. It will also include an information distribution system to aid public health advisories to possible hazards, NASA said in a statement.

According to the agency, scientists have access to ocean color satellite data from its Aqua satellite, USGS-NASA Landsat, and the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 and -3, but that data is not routinely processed and produced in formats to can help state and local environmental and water quality managers. Now, NASA said, satellite data on harmful algal blooms developed by the partner agencies will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals.

DHS S&T strategic plan looks to private sector

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is casting its new strategic plan for fiscal years 2015-2019 as a roadmap for turning the directorate into a "model for federal R&D." If that turns out to be the case, successful federal R&D will be increasingly dependent on close collaboration with the private sector.

The challenge for the directorate, according to the plan, is that some of the "non-traditional performers," or entrepreneurs, driving technology innovation are turned off by the "resource-intensive nature of doing business with the government." The directorate plans to engage these entrepreneurs via everything from hosting hackathons to holding prize competitions. The directorate also plans to "reengineer internal forecasting capabilities to better understand where to capitalize on industry investment trends," the plan said.

"The federal government is no longer the majority provider of R&D funding, and we can no longer assume we have access to the best minds if we work exclusively through who and what we already know," Undersecretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers wrote in a blog post describing the strategic plan.

CPB plan looks to collaboration, innovation

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske marked roughly a year in the office by releasing what the agency said was its first comprehensive strategic plan in nearly a decade.

"Our Vision and Strategy 2020 clearly outlines how we plan to enhance both our agility and ability to meet increasingly global and increasingly complex challenges," Kerlikowske said in an April 8 statement.

The plan doubles down on the agency's increasing reliance on collaboration and information sharing in pursuit of four goals:

  1. Combat terrorism and transnational organized crime.
  2. Advance comprehensive border security and border management.
  3. Enhance U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel.
  4. Promote organizational integration, innovation and agility.

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