Browsing: Public Safety

I grew up in a small farming community in southern Georgia. My main exposure to new technology was through the annual farm equipment exposition, science fiction books and television. One of my favorite shows was The Six Million Dollar Man. Do you remember the famous opening lines? “Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive.” “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better… stronger… faster.” (If you’re like me, you just heard that classic bionic sound in your mind.) Although it’s not really bionics, the research community and private sector are focusing on the related area of…

After four years of research and development, NIST has published a groundbreaking new security guideline that addresses the longstanding problem of how to engineer trustworthy, secure systems—systems that can provide continuity of capabilities, functions, services, and operations during a wide range of disruptions, threats, and other hazards. In fact, I think that Special Publication 800-160, Systems Security Engineering, is the most important publication that I have been associated with in my two decades of service with NIST. I want to share what led me to this conclusion. The Current Landscape The United States, and every other industrialized nation, is experiencing explosive growth in information technology. These technological innovations have given us access to computing and communications capabilities unparalleled in the…

Guest blog post by Dominic Sims, CEO, International Code Council “Buildings built to the most modern building codes were the safest places to be during Hurricane Sandy.” Having spent most of my life in code enforcement, I’ve known this to be fact and have seen the evidence with my own eyes. But hearing New York City Chief Resilience Officer Daniel Zarrilli say it on stage at the White House Conference on Resilient Building Codes this past May after the death and destruction wrought on the Northeast during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 brought back so many memories and reminded me why the International Code Council’s motto and mission is: “People Helping People Build a Safer World.” Spending much of my career…

If you’ve ever used a device that picks up signals over the air, you know that sometimes you just can’t get the signal to come in clearly. You point the device every which way, move it all around the room, do a little dance, but nothing seems to work. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation. Maybe it’s sunspots, who knows? While that’s an annoyance for us, sometimes people’s lives depend on that signal getting through. People like firefighters. One of my group’s more recent projects has been to help make sure that their signals get through, wherever they are. Like many people, I’m in awe of what firefighters do. With seemingly little regard for their own safety, they routinely…

The creation of a new material has long been either an accident or a matter of trial and error. Steel, for instance, was developed over hundreds of years by people who didn’t know why what they were doing worked (or didn’t work). Generations of blacksmiths observed that iron forged in charcoal was stronger than iron that wasn’t, and iron that was forged in a very high-temperature, charcoal-fired furnace and rapidly cooled was even stronger, and so on. While we’re still learning things about steel, we now have all kinds of recipes that we can use to make steels with different properties depending on the application, but those recipes took a lot of time, sweat and toil to develop. Wouldn’t it…

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