FOSE puts a spotlight on technology

This could be the breakout year for radio frequency identification technology if the vendors at the FOSE trade show provide any indication. Demonstrations of RFID capabilities were among the show’s highlights.

Other vendors showcased developments in secure collaboration, handheld computers and document management, underscoring the importance of technology to government agencies.

RFID gets its own pavilion
The RFID Pavilion, sponsored by Symbol Technologies, brought together nine companies that illustrated three trends in the technology’s evolution.

The first trend combines the use of active and passive ID tags to assist supply chain management. The second focuses on the use of software to manage data from many tags. The third trend shows improvements in the security of the wireless transmission of data between tags and customers’ main information networks.

Savi Technologies illustrated the first two elements by using the technology to extend supply chain management to the proverbial last mile in field deployments, said Blake Nelson, a presales engineer at the company.

Savi uses a combination of technologies and software to track items wherever they go, Nelson said. Trucks and containers have Global Positioning System units or active tags. Parts of containers get active tags, too, while pallets get passive tags. Boxes and individual items may get passive tags or bar codes. Savi provides customers with scanners that read active and passive tags and bar codes.

Software tracks each tag and relays its information, providing notices when action is necessary to secure whatever the tag monitors, Nelson said.  

Fortress Technology provided an example of the third trend, offering products that encrypt wireless communications more securely between tag-scanning devices and the enterprise network, said Bill Moore, the company’s director of strategic programs. That helps with inventory management, logistics and secure communications, he said.

Cisco alliance enables secure collaboration
Cisco Systems and Decru, along with other partners, have developed a solution for secure collaboration, built using commercial software. The collaboration solution provides a security architecture designed for the military or other organizations that need to share sensitive or classified information. It combines strong encryption, network partitioning and desktop security capabilities. The companies demonstrated the system at FOSE.

U.S. Central Command is testing the system now, said Kevin Brown, vice president of marketing at Decru. The partner companies began working on it late last year, and they spent about three months to design and build the initial system, said Richard Campbell, a Cisco engineer.

Adobe offerings manage documents
Meanwhile, Adobe officials described how the company’s document management solutions are boosting productivity for the public and agency workers. Adobe’s LiveCycle Reader Extensions have helped reduce the time that retired veterans spend completing forms from the Veterans Health Administration. Now, veterans can fill out forms online, submit them via e-mail, and print and save copies for their own records, said Rebecca Chisolm-Winkler, director of Global Government Markets at Adobe.

Michael Arnone, Michael Hardy, Michelle Speir Haase and Aliya Sternstein contributed to this article.

RIM’s BlackBerry lives on the EDGE

Officials at Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry handheld computers, are relieved that their legal battle is finally over.

Moving forward, the company has introduced its first handheld device that runs on the Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) network, the BlackBerry 8700c. The EDGE network facilitates worldwide connectivity at broadband speeds.

Other significant new features include an extremely bright, clear display with 320 x 240 resolution in addition to dedicated Send and End keys for better phone functionality.

RIM also showed a smart card reader, which doubles as an ID badge, with an attached lanyard and a holder for the card so that the owner’s photo is visible.

The reader, which is already available, communicates with the BlackBerry via Bluetooth, allowing users to work securely without needing to attach an extra module to the handheld device. If someone removes the card from the reader, the BlackBerry immediately locks.

“The BlackBerry Smartcard Reader is a new paradigm in mobile authentication that doesn’t compromise security or usability,” said Scott Totzke, director of government technology at RIM. “It’s lightweight, very wearable and doubles as an ID badge holder.”

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