News in Brief

NS 2020 notice, IARPA winners, NASA goes 4K and more

businesspeople running track

GSA signals that an EIS RFP is imminent

The General Services Administration appears to be on track for an end-of-September request for proposals for its next-generation telecommunications contract.

The agency issued a pre-solicitation notice the afternoon of Sept. 10 for its Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) telecom contract, the 15-year, $50 billion centerpiece of its Network Solutions 2020 initiative, which is intended to be the successor to Networx.

The announcement, posted to FedBizOpps, gives a public heads-up that an RFP will be issued within 15 days, according to a GSA spokesperson, who cited the agency's policy of posting notifications of intent a minimum of 15 days before the release of a solicitation. A message about the notification was posted the same day to GSA's EIS Interact web community.

GSA's EIS contract managers have said they wanted to get the RFP out before the end of September.

GSA entered a quiet period in August for the RFP to give it a final scrub on details. An exact release date in September is fluid, however. Fred Haines, EIS program manager, reminded his audience at a July GSA public input session for the EIS draft RFP that September has 30 days, indicating that the release would most likely come at the end of the month – the end of the fiscal year. If the RFP is issued at the end of September, interested bidders would have 90 days to respond, probably by the end of the year.

IARPA taps voice-recognition software winners

Johns Hopkins University, Raytheon BBN Technologies, the Institute for Infocomm Research and Brno University of Technology will share $110,000 in prizes handed out by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity crowd-sourced contest for software that would make human speech recorded in noisy environments more easily translated into less error-prone data.

IARPA's Automatic Speech in Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE) Challenge, rolled out last October, challenged companies and the public to tackle the problem of voice recognition in loud noisy places. ASpIRE looked for help in building systems that could accurately and automatically transcribe speech in noisy and reverberant environments without knowing anything about the recording devices or the acoustics of the space.

NASA goes 4K

NASA will broadcast "the breathtaking beauty and grandeur of space" in ultra-high definition this fall, the agency announced Sept. 11.

NASA TV UHD, a product of a Space Act Agreement between video infrastructure company Harmonic and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, is scheduled to launch Nov. 1, the agency said.

NASA touted the channel as North America's first non-commercial consumer UHD channel, and said it would broadcast imagery from the International Space Station and current NASA missions along with historical footage.

The 8-megapixel resolution channel will be available online to those with 13 MBps connectivity, and Harmonic is in negotiations with pay TV operators to carry the channel as well, NASA's statement said.

How agencies can boost their search results

When Google made mobile-friendliness a greater factor in its search engine rankings, agencies ramped up their mobile optimization efforts. Now GCN reports that the search giant has announced another adjustment to its ranking algorithm to improve the mobile user's browsing experience.

After Nov. 1, mobile web pages that interrupt the transition from Google search results to the destination site with an application-install interstitial that hides a large portion of the web page will not qualify as mobile-friendly.

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