Past Issues of Government Technology

GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT Horizon

by / June 27, 2003 0
Access to Wireless Towers

LANSING, Mich. -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an order in mid-April that will allow local law enforcement agencies to mount their own radio communications equipment on 181 radio towers around the state for Michigan's Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS).

"These days, when homeland security and emergency management are among our country's first priorities, coordination, cooperation and communication are key," Granholm said. "It is critical that local law enforcement agencies communicate effectively with other first responders, particularly the Michigan State Police."

The governor's order, Executive Directive 2003-12, instructs state department directors and agency heads to permit any governmental public safety agency to install public safety communications equipment on the MPSCS towers as long as the equipment is compatible with the state's equipment, according to the Governor's Office.

Any installation, operation, maintenance and removal costs associated with local law enforcement equipment will be paid for by the local governmental entity, the Governor's Office said.

"The reliable, clear and complete communication services provided by MPSCS are essential in providing law enforcement and emergency personnel with fast and accurate information," Granholm said.

Since 1994, Michigan has invested more than $200 million to create MPSCS -- a communications system for law enforcement and emergency personnel that allows Michigan State Police troopers and other government officials to talk to each other from anywhere in the state.

Intel Researchers Teach Computers to Read Lips

BERLIN -- Intel researchers released software under an open source license that allows developers to build computers that read lips the way humans do.

Combined with face detection algorithms from Intel's OpenCV computer vision library, the new audio-visual speech recognition (AVSR) software allows computers to watch a speaker's face and track movements of the speaker's mouth. Synchronizing video data with speech identification makes for much more accurate speech recognition and enhances a wide variety of computer applications in noisy environments, according to researchers.

The AVSR software is part of Intel's OpenCV computer vision library, a toolbox of more than 500 imaging functions that helps researchers develop computer vision applications.

"Intel wants to develop technology that allows computers to naturally interact with the world the way humans do," said Justin Rattner, a senior fellow in the company's Enterprise Platform Group and director of Intel's Microprocessor Research Labs. "Human recognition is seldom based on a single type of information. We make decisions by combining information from a variety of sources."

Faster microprocessors, falling camera prices and 10 times more video capture bandwidth from technologies like USB2 all help real-time computer vision algorithms run better on mainstream PCs.

OpenCV is designed to increase innovation in this field by providing source code for a wide range of computer vision and imaging functions, according to Intel. Since its release in 2000, OpenCV code downloads surpassed 500,000, and it has attracted more than 5,000 registered members to its user group.

Information about AVSR can be found online at website.

Braille PDA Released

ARNHEM, The Netherlands -- Combining an accessible GSM cell phone, mobile Internet services and note-taking functionality, the mobile phone organizer (MPO) is the first personal wireless device of its kind for visually impaired individuals.

The MPO is a compact, all-in-one device that allows users to make phone calls, send SMS messages, look up information and take notes. The MPO operates for about one day on rechargeable batteries -- depending on functionality and output medium -- and can be linked to a PC to exchange data.

For visually impaired users, all functions -- including menus, contact information, SMS messages, services and system information -- are accessible in Braille and speech. The MPO offers an eight-key Braille keyboard
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The devices are equipped with Intel X-Scale PXA255 processors; 64 MB of RAM; 64 MB of flash memory; and the Windows CE operating system. It weighs about 1.5 pounds and measures approximately 9 inches by 4 inches by 1.5 inches.

For user input and output, the MPO uses eight-dot Braille output and eight-key Braille input. It also offers speech output in American and UK English, as well as French, German and Dutch.

Justice Integration

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Through a request from the U.S. Department of Justice, 97 justice information companies have formed the Integrated Justice Information Systems Industry Working Group (IWG) to help state and local government integrate justice information systems website.

IWG is intended to give the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) a forum for exploring directions and obtaining responses from IT companies that build the information systems on which most of the justice system operates.

"It is impossible for the justice community to achieve the ambitious goals of ubiquitous information sharing without the involvement of industry partners that provide software and services, and the input of these partners in shaping our national agenda is critical," OJP officials said.

Companies in IWG have developed white papers and monographs on a range of topics, including procurement improvement and security requirements for integrated justice information systems.

IWG, in collaboration with the National Criminal Justice Association, also is offering a series of educational seminars on emerging technology for decision-makers. The group supplied representatives for OJP-led working groups dealing with information sharing through the use of XML and other modern architectures.

IWG also created a nonprofit corporation called the IJIS Institute website, which receives grant funds to provide free technology assistance to state or local agencies that are building integrated justice information systems.

In addition, the Institute sponsors training seminars on XML, security, data mining and sharing, and project management.

The 97 IWG member companies volunteer their services to the organization.

"Industry members have a major responsibility to contribute to the knowledge base that will support this national accomplishment," said Paul Wormeli, chairman of IWG and a vice president at PEC Solutions Inc. "The IWG is a means for focusing industry input and making a major contribution to this effort."
Shane Peterson Associate Editor