Cloud computing solutions should be considered even for legacy information technology investments not up for replacement, according to a report released Thursday that found federal agencies aren’t saving as much as they could.

Together, seven agencies reviewed by the Government Accountability Office have spent $222 million on cloud services since GAO last examined the issue in a 2012 report. That brings their total combined cloud spending to $529 million.

But these agencies together only increased spending on cloud services by a total of 1 percent since the 2012 report, and they failed to consider cloud computing services for 67 percent of their IT investments.

“With regard to why these investments had not been assessed, the agencies said it was in large part due to these being legacy investments in operations and maintenance,” the report said. “The agencies had only planned to consider cloud options for these investments when they were to be modernized or replaced.”

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Due to decreasing public-safety budgets, as well as competing needs and priorities, evidence-based decisions are more important than ever to continue improving our emergency communication systems across the nation.

As many states, regions and counties embark upon the planning for and transition to next-generation 911, the lack of data available about 911 services is a significant concern for those managing these services. Without trustworthy data about 911, it is difficult to prove to legislators and leaders that 911 needs additional funding and support to best serve our constituents.

While a number of public-safety databases exist, the diverse nature of 911 systems and their management structures makes the collection of statistics about 911 systems a difficult task.

Currently, the 911 community can’t confidently claim knowledge of even some of the most basic data at the state and national levels, including:

  • The number of 911 telecommunicators in the U.S.;
  • How many and what kind of 911 calls occur every year;
  • The number and type of public-safety answering points (PSAPs) nationwide;
  • The status of 911 progress in states and counties across the nation, including which systems provide basic, enhanced or next-generation 911 (NG911) services, as well as wireless and text-to-911 services; and
  • Financial implications of 911, such as how much it costs to provide 911 services or the cost of each call within a jurisdiction.

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A new tool in the belt of Vigo County law enforcement that’s designed for you.

A new jail tracker web site allows you, the public, to track both active and released inmates.

“As part of our new jail tracker software that we use to manage the jail and the inmates, was the ability for us to allow the public to view that information,” said Major Jeff Fox, Vigo County Sheriff’s Office.

You no longer need to use a log-in ID to view this information. The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office thought it important to give the community access to this type of information.

“In this age of transparency and information, whether it be sex offender registry, and all the information exchange in the world today, it just made sense. It’s public record. There’s no reason not to make it available to our citizens if they want it,” said Major Fox. “And I think we’re in that age of information exchange, and information is so readily available.”

We checked to see which other Wabash Valley counties have this capability. The only other we found was Knox County.

Making this share a big get for the sheriff’s office, all the better to keep their community informed.

“We’re in the age of Google. We can google everything! Well, information like this, Sheriff Ewing believes that’s important for the citizens to have that information,” said Major Fox.

The arresting agency is also listed on the website. The website also offers a restricted side.

It gives law enforcement tools to access reports and photo line-ups.

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It’s time for government to head for the clouds.

The public sector at every level continues to struggle with financial stress. Compounding the issue is aging technology infrastructure.

But there are answers up in the clouds.

The core concept of cloud computing – sharing IT infrastructure to make computing more efficient – is an obvious solution for governments pushing to squeeze costs while improving services. Cloud computing offers government agencies a way to share infrastructure and spread out their costs while at the same time improving services.

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The Cloud World Forum in London was a great opportunity to talk with people involved in cloud computing at every level, from global directors of multinationals to people on the frontline of cloud computing sales. The conversations were full of insights that you can only come across at such an event.

We asked them what it was about cloud technology that excites people. The answers included everything from new SaaS applications to security to the adoption of secure private clouds by businesses that need highly available data in a secure environment. One thing was apparent: Cloud computing is so diverse that we struggled to find two similar answers.

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Cloud has often been used as a metaphor for Internet in the network diagram. Cloud computing is a new IT delivery model accessed over the network (Internet or intranet). It is definitely not formed in one day by a “Big Bang.” This revolutionary style of computing emerges from evolutionary changes, maturity, development and advancements of technologies over the last 50 years. Readers may be interested to read my blog post on the evolution of cloud computing.

In this post, I will present the very essentials, attributes, differentiators and benefits of cloud computing that a beginner needs to know.

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The National 911 Profile Database is open and accepting 911 system data for 2013 on a variety of key issues impacting public-safety answering points (PSAPs), the National 911 Program announced.

“Nearly three-quarters of the nation’s state administrators are working to collect and share state data through the 911 Profile Database,” National 911 Program Coordinator Laurie Flaherty said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Real data will provide the 911 community with ammunition to make the case for the needs of 911 systems locally and nationally.”

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Last Thursday, a little before 11 p.m., a group of “clean cut and well-dressed” 20-somethings strolling through Philadelphia’s moneyed Rittenhouse neighborhood called gay slurs at two men before launching an attack that sent both men to the hospital.

Four days later, Philadelphia police posted a surveillance video of the group on Youtube.

And mere hours after that, an anonymous Twitter user with the handle @FanSince09 announced that he’d found the perpetrators … entirely through social media.

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The Army is serious about tackling application sprawl and identifying systems that can move to government data centers and commercial cloud environments.

So far, the Army has identified 62 applications that are ideal for hosting in the cloud, said Michael Krieger, deputy CIO/G-6, following an AFCEA event Monday on the future of Army IT programs and priorities.

The service will move applications to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s milCloud or to commercial cloud vendors cleared to host the Army’s most sensitive data classified at levels five or six, Krieger told FedTech.

“The Army has got to make a decision,” he added, about what must be hosted in a government facility and what applications can be moved to level five or six commercial providers. “I think what you’re going to see is applications maybe moving to industry quicker than DISA just because of DISA’s throughput,” said Krieger, adding that he is monitoring four Army cloud pilots involving Amazon and IBM.

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The National Science Foundation has announced two $10 million projects to set up cloud computing test beds – Chameleon and CloudLab — that will support experimentation with new cloud architectures and cloud applications.

Chameleon and CloudLab will be available for free to researchers. I suspect that many will take advantages of these freebies, perhaps more than the NSF anticipates.

As you may recall, NIST was the government organization that defined cloud computing, including private, public, and hybrid clouds, as well as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. It’s not that strange that the NSF would provide test beds for research purposes and allow researchers to learn more about what the cloud can and can’t do.

The $10 million spent on these projects is a drop in the bucket in the bigger scheme of things, but it could spin out to billions of dollars in new technology value when all is said and done.

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