Monday, December 3, 2007

More Dollars Need to Flow to Finance Urban Waters Construction

The price tag for Tacoma’s planned Urban Waters project has more than doubled since last spring’s estimates, rising from $18 million to more than $40 million.

The latest plans call for a three-story, 56,000-square-foot facility on the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway--expanded from the two-story, 40,000-square-foot structure previously envisioned. City officials say it will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standards, the highest level on a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. That means it will be a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly building, complete with a plant-covered roof, natural ventilation, rain garden and underground heat pump--the first of its kind in the country to earn the status.

The new, higher estimate is a total project cost, and it includes construction of state-of-the-art facility. Meeting stricter environmental standards increases the upfront cost, but could yield as much as 30-35 percent annual savings in utility costs. The city is partnering with the nonprofit National Development Council (NDC) to build the lab, a move that is expected to speed up construction and possibly lower the overall cost. NDC formed a separate nonprofit, Tacoma Environmental Services, for the project; for the first 30 years, that nonprofit will own the facility and the City will lease it. After 30 years, it will revert to City ownership.

Tenants will include the City of Tacoma’s Environmental Services Department (about 43,500 square feet), the Puget Sound Partnership, a new state agency charged with cleaning up Puget Sound, (about 7,500 square feet), and the University of Washington Tacoma (about 5,000 square feet for a researcher and staff).
Initial design allots only 35 parking spaces for an expected 140 employees plus visitors, with the slack expected to be made up via public transportation and carpooling. The facility is expected to be finished in April 2009.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What About Municipal Wi-Fi?

Following several years of failed promises for municipal Wi-Fi projects--and growing consumer demand--a recent review in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that "the reality is somewhere in between hype and hopelessness."

Municipal (for most of those interested, read free) Wi-Fi in Tacoma has never got off the ground, largely for lack of any clear business model and in observance of services already ambient by companies like Clearwire. Efforts by the Rainier Communications Commission to create a county-wide system also failed to gain traction--for the same reasons.

The Chronicle article by staff writer Ryan Kim provides a bird’s-eye view of municipal Wi-Fi adoption, and it contends that the movement is slowing down, but progressing with clearer goals and a more logical approach that includes acknowledging that:
  • There's a learning process that big cities and counties in particular have been absorbing the hard way;
  • Municipal leaders are learning that they need to ensure that projects are profitable for their vendors;
  • The ad-supported free model, which Google had proposed for San Francisco, seems to be taking a backseat to more realistic approaches that rely on governments as anchor tenants;
  • Cities are backing off some of their talk of broad public access and bridging the digital divide in favor of more immediate goals, concrete applications and services;
  • The most popular uses among municipalities are public safety, remote worker access, meter reading and surveillance cameras.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cyber Defense Workshop at the UWT

A Cyber Defense workshop will be held at UWT on Saturday, November 17, from 10:00 to 1:00. Anyone is welcome to attend--students, faculty, staff, friends, relatives, anyone interested in the technical aspects of network security. This workshop will be a Network Mapping Challenge.

The group will start in the Embedded lab, Cherry Parks 206D.

Linux experience helpful, but not required. Participants who already have network mapping software on their laptops, will be able to use their own machine.

For more information contact Don McLane (

Thursday, November 8, 2007

SST 2008: Save the Date!

Save the date now to join technology professionals from around Western Washington for South Sound Technology Conference 2008 on Thursday, November 29th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (registration begins at 8:30 a.m.) in the Carwein Auditorium at the University of Washington Tacoma.

This year's conference will focus on how blogging is changing the way South Sounders communicate, socialize and take action. Come join the conversation on how blogging is transforming the exchange of information, and the influence on journalism, business, civic leadership and the public at large...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Internet Tax Ban Passes Senate

Reuters wrote this morning that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed (402-0) legislation to extend the moratorium on state internet access taxes for seven years.

The U.S. Senate had passed the same exact bill last week, so now the bill goes to President Bush for an expected signature.

Sen. John Sununu, who wrote the 7-year extension as a compromise between a 4-year extension and a permanent ban, said he still hopes to permanently end the tax.

The ban is on internet-only (access and a "bit" tax on information as it transits a taxing jurisdiction) taxes. The ban protects instant messaging and e-mail, including voice and video messaging.

While proponents had argued for a permanent ban as encouraging broadband adoption and economic expansion. Opponents were concerned about local and state government revenue opportunities and the precedent of exemption for VOIP.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ray Gun Comes Closer

The Raytheon Corp's ray gun may get the chance to prove if it's a disruptive innovation yet.

The Houston Chronicle reports today that the ray gun could be deployed to Iraq early next year. Looks like the Marines have more than a few good men - they have a few good ideas too.

Our earlier blog (August 30) on this story explored the concept of the ray gun's advanced technology on the battlefield. Doubtless, tactics will have to innovate as much as the equipment has.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

US Chamber Calls for Permanent Internet Tax Waiver

The U. S. Chamber urged Senate leaders this week to permit a vote on permanently extending the tax moratorium on Internet access when the Senate considers H.R. 3678, the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007.

The House approved H.R. 3678, which only temporarily extends the moratorium another four years through November 2011, by a vote of 405-2 last week.

"By making permanent the Internet tax moratorium, Congress can be sure that this vital tool remains a key driver to continued economic growth in this country," wrote Chamber Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs Bruce Josten in the October 22 letter.

Read previous letters to the House and Senate supporting a permanent ban.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pierce County Firm Funded by WA Tech Center

The Washington Technology Center has released its 2007 Annual Report.

While the WA Tech Center does admirable work around the state, we were pleased to note that one Pierce County firm, Visiongate website under development at this publication but backgrounded online, received a Research & Technology Development Award.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Maybe a Center for US AFter All

We originally spotlighted the cooperative relationship focusing on Cybernetics between Ft. Lewis and the Institute of Technology at the UWT in a June 13 posting.

Now, The News Tribune has expanded the spotlight on the cyber-warriors unit at McChord AFB. In an article published today, the TNT expanded the info on the local connection from information by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne in the spring issue of Air and Space Power Journal.

What the community once decided to focus its tech development around, a Center for Excellence for Cyber-Security and Information Assurance, may have more of a node here that most expect. Although this effort at CNA (Computer Network Attack) is Air Force, maybe we can wish them success as they "Run Silent, Run Deep."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Puget Sound Partnership Comes to Tacoma

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the good news that she had selected Tacoma as the office for the Puget Sound Partnership.

The Partnership is a state coalition established in 2007 and charged with leading efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound. The Partnership's first and primary task is to work with governments, tribes, scientists, businesses and citizens to create a 20-year action plan by September 2008. Every two years, a short-term work plan for cleaning up the Sound will be developed from their 20-Year Action Agenda, corresponding with the state's budget cycle.

The City of Tacoma had been lobbying for months to get the Puget Sound Partnership to open an office in the City of Tacoma’s Urban Waters marine research center on Thea Foss Waterway. The satellite office will operate in close proximity to Tacoma’s environmental services division labs and UW-Tacoma research labs. It will bring about 32 jobs to the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway and expand the reach of Urban Waters, a public-private partnership that boosters hope will become a leading marine research lab.

The main user of the planned 40,000-square-foot Urban Waters building was shaping up to be scientists and engineers from the city’s environmental service department. It is hoped locating Puget Sound Partnership facilities alongside local, academic and private Puget Sound restoration efforts will encourage collaboration and lead to intellectual and technological marine research developments.

Adding the Puget Sound Partnership to the mix will likely require building a larger facility. Karen Larkin, an assistant Tacoma public works director, has said the state office would need 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Officials probably would add a third story to the planned two-story building to accommodate the Partnership.

After years of planning, Urban Waters is gaining momentum. In March 2007, the Tacoma City Council agreed to spend $5.6 million to buy 3.1 acres along East D Street for the project. Tacoma is using city ratepayer money to fund construction of the estimated $18 million facility.

The University of Washington Tacoma is expected to sublease space, too. In July, UWT selected Professor Joel Baker to serve as the first Port of Tacoma chairman. He will conduct research and teach classes at UWT and serve as science adviser for Urban Waters. The Port of Tacoma, UWT, the City of Tacoma and container terminal operator SSA Marine contributed $3 million for an endowed chair.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gov. Gregoire Announces First Innovation Partnership Zones

Governor Gregoire announced the designation of 11 Innovation Partnership Zones in Washington, geographic areas that will promote and develop the state’s regional economies of which the Foss Innovation Partnership Zone was a contender.

Innovation Partnership Zones build on the success around the world of “research parks,” such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Torrey Pines in California and bring together research and higher education opportunities, innovation and economic activity to be a strong engine for regional economies.

Washington is home to some of the greatest innovations in the world and I am excited to support the continued success of our state’s world-class companies, said Governor Gregoire. We’ve seen what can happen when we bring together research, training and commerce, put them in a beaker and shake - Innovation Partnership Zones will be powerful economic engines to support our regional economies.

The five designees were selected to receive grants totaling $4,275,000, allocated in the 2007-2009 capital budget, to jump-start development activities.

The Innovation Partnership Zones legislation calls for successful applicants to be awarded the designation of an Innovation Partnership Zone. Five of these applicants were also awarded grants, which may be used for such expenses as shared infrastructure, telecommunications, equipment or construction, and up to 10 percent for administration.

The applicants receiving the Innovation Partnership Zone designation are:
Aerospace Convergence Zone, Workforce Development Council Snohomish County.
Battelle, Sequim Marine Research Operations, Clallam Economic Development Council.
Bellingham Innovation Zone, Port of Bellingham – grant recipient.
Bothell Biomedical Manufacturing Corridor, City of Bothell.
Discovery Corridor Innovation Zone/Steinmueller Innovation Park, Columbia River Economic Development Council.
Grays Harbor Sustainable Industries Innovation Partnership Zone, Port of Grays Harbor – grant recipient.
Pullman Innovation Partnership Zone, Port of Whitman Countygrant recipient.
South Lake Union Life Science Innovation Partnership Zone, City of Seattle, Office of Economic Development.
Spokane University District Innovation Partnership Zone, Greater Spokane Inc. – grant recipient.
Tri-Cities Innovation Zone, Port of Benton.
Walla Walla Valley Innovation Partnership Zone, City of Walla Wallagrant recipient.

Governor Gregoire’s Web Site: More Information

Friday, September 28, 2007

House Passes Legislation to Reform Patent System

Recently, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 220 - 175, The Patent Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1908), to modernize the patent system. I was a cosponsor of the bill.

It has been 55 years since the law was last significantly updated. Today our patent system is overburdened with applications on trivial inventions and many now view patent litigation as a way to prevent competition or reap windfall profits.

Many improvements were made to the Patent Reform Act since it was introduced on April 18th, led by Chairman Howard Berman and Ranking Member Lamar Smith.

The biggest outstanding concern that I am aware of is the apportionment of damages and I will continue to work on that issue as the bill goes into conference. If there are any other significant concerns still floating out there I would like to hear about them.

The bill has been placed on the Senate calendar for further action. The Administration is promoting its strong support of patent modernization but has issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) regarding their outstanding concerns about a few sections in the legislation, including the apportionment of damages. It is likely this legislation will continue to see changes as the legislative process continues.

The best way to pass along your feedback is through my Tacoma office at 253.896.3775. If you’d like, you may send inquiries about technology issues to: and for general business concerns or to invite me to visit your business or attend an events it’s best to contact: I look forward to hearing from you.


Adam Smith
Member of Congress

Highlights of H.R. 1908:

First-Inventor-to-File: The effective date of the change from a first-to-invent system to the international standard first-to-file system is conditioned upon a Presidential finding that other major patent authorities (principally Europe and Japan) adopt a 1-year grace period similar to that provided in the bill. This benefits academic researchers, small inventors and others who may want to file foreign applications.

Publication of Applications: As introduced, the bill would strike the exemption from publication for applicants who file only domestically. An expected amendment will delay publication for such applicants until the later of 18 months after filing or 3 months after a second office action. This will give an applicant sufficient opportunity to withdraw should she wish.

Assigned Applications: The amendment to §118 is deleted. As a result, an assignment of rights must be in writing and patents will issue in the name of the inventor.

Damages: The original bill seemed to require apportionment in all cases. As amended, it is only 1 of several methods a court can use in awarding damages, including the use of the current approach (15 Georgia-Pacific factors). Moreover, apportionment no longer applies to damages based on lost profits. Another change allows plaintiff to recover the enhanced value of previously known elements where their combination in the invention adds value or functionality to the prior art.

Prior User Rights: The expansion of prior user rights (defense of earlier inventor) beyond business method patents has been entirely removed from the bill.

Post-Grant Review: The “2nd window” for challenging a patent through post-grant review has been eliminated. A cancellation petition must be filed within 1 year of patent issue. Although an inter-partes reexamination can still be instituted at any time, the grounds for doing so remain limited to documentary prior art. In both cases, review will be conducted by specially qualified Administrative Patent Judges rather than examiners. The pendency of post-grant review will not affect the ability to bring an infringement action. An expected amendment will extend the estoppel provision to prevent a losing challenger from relitigating patent invalidity in International Trade Commission cases.

Tax Planning Patents: Among the most controversial business method patents are those claiming novel methods for reducing or deferring a taxpayer’s tax liability. Many have expressed concern that putting an official imprimitur on tax avoidance strategies, and granting a private monopoly to practice such strategies, undermines tax policy. Compliance with U.S. laws ought not be within the control of private individuals. Accordingly, tax planning methods will no longer be patentable after the effective date of the bill.

Venue and Interlocutory Appeals: Venue based on plaintiff’s residence (a unique feature of this bill) is preserved for most categories of patentee (including universities, individual inventors and manufacturers). There are now seven distinct ways for plaintiff to establish proper venue. Interlocutory appeal of claim construction rulings (“Markman” orders) is now discretionary with the district court rather than of-right, as is any stay pending a permitted appeal. The special venue transfer provision in the original bill is eliminated.

Best Mode: The “best mode” requirement of §112 (“The specification shall … set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention”) is frequently used as a defense in patent infringement cases to invalidate a patent. Because it is a subjective factor going to state of mind (what did the inventor “contemplate”) it adds considerable uncertainty to patent validity. The bill now removes “best mode” as a defense in infringement cases.

Regulatory Authority: It is important that the Patent and Trademark Office have sufficient regulatory authority to assure quality and timely patents. But to maintain close Congressional oversight, an amendment will be offered to impose a “report and wait” requirement on PTO. Promulgated rules will not take effect before 60 legislative days, to allow for a Joint Resolution of Disapproval.

Inequitable Conduct: The bill now codifies the judicially-made doctrine of inequitable conduct and incorporates PTO Rule 56 to specify an applicant’s duty of candor. Intent to deceive the Office must be proven separate from the materiality of withheld or misleading information. Where inequitable conduct is found, a judge may impose sanctions ranging from denial of equitable relief and lost profits to holding the patent or related patents unenforceable.

Studies: The amended bill has several study provisions to assure that the reforms included in H.R. 1908 will have their intended effects. These include studies and reports on the new first-inventor-to-file system, on reexamination proceedings, on special masters, on the new damages provisions, and on examiner workplace conditions.

Angels Sing as a Chorus

The Tacoma Angel Network confirms through its participation in the first-ever Angel Capital Association Confidence Survey that investment levels will exceed 2006 levels.

In the ACA (not a funding organization) Confidence Report earlier this year, angel groups belonging to the association forecast that the quantity and quality of entrepreneurial investment proposals in the coming year would surpass 2006 levels. A mid-year check by the ACA shows that those predictions were not just pioedreams. Fifty percent of survey respondents expressed that their group’s deal flow had continued to increase in quality and quantity during the first six months of 2007, and most of the remaining respondents said that deal flow was similar to 2006.

Angel groups were also optimistic about their relationships with venture capitalists. A majority of angel group leaders (73.7%) thought that their relationships with venture capitalists (VCs) had improved in the last three years. Reasons given for the improved relationship with VCs included:
  • market segmentation
  • increased understanding about their respective roles in early and later-stage financing
  • better deal structuring
  • good company referrals

Forty-four percent of the angel groups in the survey have established partnerships with VC firms to expedite co-investments or follow-on investments to help close any capital gap.

E-commerce Grows by 25% in 2006

The Washington Retail Association reports on the expansive growth of e-commerce in a recent e-newsletter. The Retail Association cites a new study by Forrester Research, Inc. that as sales increase, online retailers are getting more sophisticated with social media and better images.

The study says that as part of the initiative to improve product detail pages and content, 80% of retailers say they will focus on adding alternative images, 72% will incorporate lifestyle photography and 63% plan on integrating social media tools such as customer reviews and videos.

According to the report, e-commerce sales in 2006 grew 25% over sales during 2005, exceeding expectations of only 20% growth. The report also found that the channel is continuing to grow and expects that it will be a year before the online channel reaches saturation. The report predicts continued growth for leading online retailers and a shift of store sales, which are growing slower than their online counterparts.

Only 27% of retailers say they have live chat on their Web site now, but 33% say that it will be an investment priority in the next 12 months. One-third of all retailers say that product customization is very effective and nearly half of retailers say they are considering an online customization application in the coming year. Forty-nine percent of retailers in the survey offer custom products now.

E-mail marketing continues to be the most effective tool for customer retention, as nearly three-fourths of retailers e-mail customers about new product availability.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Urban Waters Innovations Zone

At the Chamber's Port-Industrial Committee meeting (9-19-07), the City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development Department and the University of Washington Tacoma presented their forthcoming concept and grant application: Innovation Partnership Zone Designation and Capital Grant Application.


SHB 1091, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2007, mandates that the State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) designate Innovation partnership Zones (IPZs) every October. IPZs are research and development parks that possess, or show substantial planning toward:

  • commercially valuable research capacity (such as a university, national lab);

  • globally competitive firms in a research-based industry; and

  • education/training capacity

In addition to awarding IPZ designations, the legislation provides for an IPZ grant program to provide funding to improve commercialization facilities within an IPZ. Grants may also be used to facilitate the collaboration between research teams, industry and workforce training providers that will lead to the formation and financing of new innovative firms, the commercialization of research results,and the movement of firms and industry clusters into globally competitive niches. Five communities will be selected to receive one-time grant awards of $1 million each.


On July 25, 2007, CTED mailed out applications to potentially interested parties. CTED conducted teleconferences and live meetings during the last week of July. Final application submittals were due September 17, 2007. On October 1, the CTED director will announce IPZ designated zones and grant awards. By mid-October, CTED expects to send out designation notices and grant contracts.


IPZ Boundaries

CTED encouraged applicants to develop small zones that provide opportunities for collaboration and exchange. City of Tacoma staff, in partnership with their counterparts at the University of Washington Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma, identified a potential boundary designed to meet the application criteria of CTED. The proposed IPZ is a compact, contiguous area of about 121 gross acres with logical natural and human-made boundaries: To the west is the Thea Foss Waterway, north is Commencement Bay, east is the Middle Waterway and a right of way, and south is East 15th Street. The Zone will be attractive to businesses seeking to relocate or establish new offices -- set on the waterfront with views of the city, Mt. Rainier and Commencement Bay. It also benefits from proximity to downtown Tacoma's commercial zone, port operations and the UW Tacoma campus. The Zone benefits by having a large supply of available property that is owned by either the City of the Port or is listed for sale or lease. Businesses currently located in the zone will coexist with Zone partner businesses. There will be no change in zoning, land-use regulations, etc.

The boundaries were selected to include the City's Environmental Services building, the Center for Urban Waters, a state-of-the-art building to be located in the Innovation Partnership Zone.

IPZ Program Concept

The IPZ will focus on research and local strengths in the areas of applied environmental research and computer science-based research to improve port navigation and security. The City's Center for Urban Waters will house its environmental labs and serve as the hub of the IPZ. It will also house the Urban Waters marine research center, whose mission is to develop solutions to the problems facing urban bay communities. The research of the IPZ, contributed by UW Tacoma primarily through its Environmental Science and Institute of Technology faculty, will focus on the following priority areas:

  • Ballast water and invasive species

  • Urban water runoff technology

  • Information systems-based port navigation systems

  • Cyber-security and computer-based port security initiatives

  • Marine biotechnology

  • Aquaculture

Solutions to these problems are key to the continued economic development of the Puget Sound region. They also have applications to port cities across the nation and around the globe. The IPZ was designed to leverage the Port's strong national and international connections.

The UW Tacoma Institute of Technology will be an active partner in the Zone with an initial emphasis on research to develop port navigation and port security systems. The Institute is part of a national "Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education," as designated by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The UW Tacoma Innovation Zone office in the Center for Urban Waters will coordinate activities and direct partners to resources, such as access to the UW Tech Transfer office, educational programs for technology entrepreneurs, and the pursuit of further grant support. It will also coordinate regular meetings of IPZ partners, designed to generate synergies and efficiencies in the process of transforming research-based ideas and inventions into marketable products and services. IPZ grant funds would establish the UW Tacoma Innovation Zone office that will feature a video conferencing wall and other technology that will allow partners to meet with colleagues around the globe.

The Port is a major property owner in the Zone. The Port will seek to align its marketing efforts for the development of approximately 22 acres of recently acquired real estate to support the goals of the Innovation Partnership Zone. The Port already participates with the Institute of Technology in the port navigation and port security system development.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A New Acronym to Learn: STEM

This is for all you "back to schoolers" in all grades, or those considering a return to academia.

I want to mention a new acronym I ran across on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site today. STEM.

It stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, and if you are considering pursuit of an occupation or an occupational change, this is an area to explore.

Schools are paying attention to this information. In Minnesota, The Mankato School District took note of the fact that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 of the 15 fastest growing occupations requiring at least a bachelor’s degree are computer, science or technology related. In response the district has created a handful of progressive programs that integrate classroom education with real-world business applications. St. Peter built an entirely new science lab at North Elementary to engage kids earlier in math, science and technology. Le Sueur-Henderson spent a goodly portion of its $18.5 million bond referendum on upgrading middle and high school labs and technological equipment.

Bold moves that will pay off in the future for the students who accept the challenges of the field.

The government BLS site has more about STEM for download as a report here. Here is a snippet from it to spark your interest.

Faster aircraft, bolder video games, better medicines—technology moves forward every day. And tech-savvy workers make those advances happen. Without the work of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians, and other skilled workers, most new products and discoveries would never be developed.
Technical occupations are often defined as those related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Workers in STEM occupations use science and math to solve problems.

This article describes the occupations that most clearly concentrate on STEM. You’ll find information about STEM occupations, earnings, educational requirements, and job prospects. There are also suggestions on how to prepare for a STEM career and where to find more information.

In the early part of this decade, there was a difficult spate of job losses in certain sectors, yet Computer Science and Engineering remains one of the 25 fastest growing industries with strong career opportunities in the Nation.

Wage-and-salary employment is expected to grow 40 percent by the year 2014, compared with only 14 percent growth projected for the entire economy.

Welcome back, students.

cross posted at

Friday, September 7, 2007

Research Grants from WA Technology Center

Are you working on innovative technology research with near-term commercial potential?

Consider applying for a Washington Technology Center grant to offset the costs of your R&D.

Notice of Intent Deadline: September 13, 2007

Proposals Due: October 18, 2007 by 5:00pm

Washington Technology Center awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to Washington-based research teams in an effort to help transition great ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.

If you are a Washington technology business looking to partner with an academic or non-profit researcher on a collaborative research endeavor, you may be eligible for a funding award through our Research & Technology Development grants program.

These awards help Washington companies grow faster, create jobs and attract investors by providing the critical funding needed to advance scientific research and product development.

Research & Technology Development funding pays up to 80% of the cost of research projects -allowing you to channel your capital to other business growth needs or continue working on breakthrough scientific discoveries.

Washington Technology Center allocates $1 million annually for these grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis to collaborative research teams working on innovative technology projects with strong commercial potential.

They are now accepting proposals for our next round of grants which will be awarded in December, 2007. Projects begin January 1. But hurry, application deadlines are drawing near. Notice of Intent deadline is September 13 and applications are due October 18.

296 companies have benefited from Research & Technology Development funding. You could be next.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Keeping Competitive

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has joined the effort of Compete America, a coalition of corporations, trade associations, and educators, and others urging Congress to remain focused on taking steps this year to address the highly-skilled immigration crisis facing U.S. employers by reforming the H-1B visa and employment-based green card systems.

Highly-educated foreign professionals play a significant role in allowing the United States to maintain an innovative edge over its global competitors. However, our outdated immigration system has made it harder and harder for qualified foreign talent to come to and remain in this country and contribute to our nation’s intellectual capital and economic well-being, which, ultimately, poses a serious threat to our global leadership position.

Consider that in April of this year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received over 133,000 H-1B visa applications for only 65,000 available slots for fiscal year 2008 – on the very first day applications could be accepted. This arbitrary, unrealistic cap sends the message that America’s doors are closed and that these individuals, many of whom have been educated in U.S. universities, should look for opportunity elsewhere. In most cases, those opportunities will be with our foreign competitors.

The H-1B visa program is often used as a temporary step toward permanent resident status for top talent, with the ultimate goal being the attainment of an employment-based (EB) green card. Yet, the shortage of available EB green cards and the massive backlog of pending applications are equally as dire as the H-1B shortage. Those seeking an EB green card can face delays of up to five years or more, leaving them in professional limbo. Furthermore, the existing backlog serves as a major impediment for companies’ recruitment and retention efforts of qualified professionals who wish to remain and work in the United States.

Policymakers have recognized the important contributions of these individuals and the imperative of reforming our highly-skilled immigration system. The Chamber was pleased to see these issues addressed as part of the earlier comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the Senate, lead by Sen. Maria Cantwell, and was disappointed when, in the end, it failed to pass a final bill.

Despite this outcome, there are further opportunities for action on these issues this year. The House of Representatives is urged to work to identify other appropriate legislative vehicles for alleviating this growing crisis.

Keep America competitive in the world economy. Allowing the best and brightest minds to come to the U.S. is an important component in achieving this goal. An Innovation Agenda to address the need for highly-skilled immigration reform should remain at the top of the list.


The Department of Defense's Global Information Grid (GIG) architectural vision is now available on-line at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and DoD Chief Information Officer Web site.

The document provides details on the department's vision for its future information technology enterprise and was signed by John G. Grimes, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and DoD Chief Information Officer.

According to Grimes, the department's goal in establishing the GIG architectural vision is to promote unity of effort among those responsible for evolving today's GIG to its target state, including component CIOs, portfolio managers, and architects.

The GIG is formally defined in existing DoD policy and described in the architectural vision. It is the combination of people, processes, and technology used for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information throughout the DoD. It includes all departmental communications and computing systems and the interfaces to non-DoD mission partners. The GIG supports all DoD personnel and organizations, the missions, operations, and functions they perform, and the ability to exchange information within the department and with external mission partners.

The GIG architectural vision is one part of the DoD enterprise architecture - the part that describes the desired future state of the GIG. Other parts of the enterprise architecture include a description of the current information environment and capabilities and plans and strategies to achieve the transformation described in the GIG architectural vision.

"The GIG architectural vision is designed to be a short, high level, description of the department's objective enterprise architecture," said Grimes. "It will evolve to reflect operational, systems, and technical changes to the target GIG."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ray Gun a "Disruptive Innovation"

Technology fortunes have been made with disruptive innovations that have turned industries inside out.

Now, it seems the Department of Defense is slow to employ a new disruptive innovation as reported by, and searchable under "Active Denial System." In short, the device is a directed-energy device, but not a laser or microwave. There have been programs on TV illustrating this or a similar device, where even the OIC and the TV host were willing to be guineau-pigs in demonstrations for the camera.

MSNBC quotes many high-level military leaders asking for the device to control unruly crowds that cover insurgent activities resulting in the deaths of innocents. While concerns are voiced that the general public may view the device as a "torture weapon," sunburns are not nearly as bad as bullet wounds.

Potential public perception aside, the only dispute on practicality seems to be whether the weapon is deployable. Defense research agencies seem to say "no," and defense industry manufacturers seem to say "yes."

Doubtless, such a unique weapon would itself become a prime target in the urban battlefield. But could the risk to our soldiers and the $$ cost be any greater than already endured?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Security & Technology Conference 2007

Sponsored by: Network Computing Architects
Thursday, September 6th, 2007
Hyatt Regency Hotel ~ Bellevue WA

To download a full Program guide please visit
Registration: Near Capacity
Register Today~ Use Code NCA2007SUS for a full access complimentary ticket.

Grand Ballroom
7:00- 8:00 am Registration and Networking Breakfast Sponsored by BSI
8:15 am Conference Kickoff Tom Gobeille, NCA
8:30 am Keynote: The Internet as Innovation Engine Howard Charney, Cisco
9:30 am Keynote: Information-Centric Security Dennis Hoffman, RSA
10:30 am Keynote: Web (2.0) Security: Reputation, Malware Detection and Data Leak Prevention Dr. Paul Judge, Secure Computing
11:30 pm Keynote: Intelligent Growth Through Technology Grant Degginger, Mayor of Bellevue
12:00 pm Visit the Exhibitors booths and receive raffle tickets
1:45 pm Panel: ERM vs. Growing and Provocative Technology-based Risks Moderated by Kirk Bailey, UW
2:45 pm Panel: Security as an Enabler? Moderated by Heather Clancy, Entrepreneur Magazine
3:45 pm Changing the Perception of Information Security Preston Hogue, NCA
4:30 pm Practical Guidelines for Implementing IP Telephony Wayne Bailey, NCA

Register Today! Use code NCA2007SUS

Regency Ballroom A
1:30 pm Architecting a Robust Self-Healing VoIP Infrastructure
2:15 pm Dynamic Network Access Control
3:00 pm Unified Communications & Mobility
3:45 pm Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

1:30 pm The Emergence of the Application Ready Network - What's it all about?
2:15 pmNot to Scare, but Make Aware: Physical Security
3:00 pm Enterprise Data Protection
3:45 pm Information Centric-Security & Regulatory Compliance

Regency Ballroom B
1:30 pm Improve Application Performance on your WAN and Save Bandwidth Costs
2:15 pmBusiness Continuity: Identifying the Inadequacies of Conventional Core Network Services Infrastructure
3:00 pmControlling the Image Epidemic
3:45 pmCisco's Self-Defending Network: Your Questions Answered Here!

1:30 pm Microsoft Dynamics for Customer Relationship Management
2:15 pm Unified Communications "A Changing Landscape".
3:00 pm How Law Enforcement supports the private sector - we're here to serve you! Kevin T. Saito, FBI Cyber Squad
3:45 pmRemote Vendor Access™ (RVA): Not all Access Should be Treated Equally

5:00 pm Prize Giveaways - must be present to win

Evergreen Room, Hyatt 2nd Flr.(for conference attendee's only)
5:00-7:00 pm Happy Hour Sponsored by Juniper Networks

Copyright ©2001 NCA - Network Computing Architects Inc.
Voice: 877-KNOW NCA (877-566-9622)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Protection from Identify Theft - 8 Cities Left!

More than 5,000 Washington residents become victims of identity theft each year! Attorney General Rob McKenna announced a 15-city statewide tour on identity theft - come participate in one or more of these events!

Guard it! Washington is a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office, Federal Trade Commission and AARP to help protect businesses and their customers from identity theft. The 15-city tour kicked off July 12 in Yakima and will end on Oct. 18 in Oak Harbor. It includes public forums, free community shred events and events for business leaders.

The Guard it! Washington schedule is as follows.
Noon Business Presentations: Attorney General Rob McKenna will speak.
Free Shredding from 5 to 7 p.m
Evening Public Forums from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m: Learn how to protect yourself and your family from identity theft and what to do if you are a victim. Register online at or call toll-free 1-800-646-2283.

Guard it! Washington Tour Dates:
PORT ORCHARD: August 27, Monday, South Kitsap High School, Stage Two, 425 Mitchell Avenue
KENT: August 28, Tuesday, Kent Meridian High School, East Wing Auditorium, 10020 S.E. 256th St., Kent
TACOMA: August 30, Thursday, Bates Technical College - South Campus, 2201 S. 78th St.
SHORELINE: September 4, Tuesday, Shoreline Community College, room 2925, 16101 Greenwood Ave. N.
VANCOUVER: September 6, Thursday, Washington State School for the Blind, Fries Auditorium, 2214 E. 13th St.
SEQUIM: September 19, Wednesday, Sequim City Hall Chambers, 152 W. Cedar St.
OLYMPIA: October 4, Thursday, Capitol Campus - Cherberg Building, State Senate Hearing Room 1, 416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W.
EAST WENATCHEE: October 11, Thursday, Eastmont High School, LGI, 955 N.E. Third Ave.
OAK HARBOR: October 18, Thursday, Skagit Valley College - Oak Harbor Campus, Hayes Hall-137, 1900 S.E. Pioneer Wa
For more information or to register to attend these events, please visit the Web site at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update on Technology Issues from Congressman Adam Smith

Smith Votes to Keep America Competitive

Recently, Congressman Adam Smith voted for H.R. 2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (COMPETES), as part of the House Democrats’ Innovation Agenda. The bill passed by a vote of 367 to 57. Adam and his colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition were instrumental in crafting the Agenda in the 109th Congress.

“It is absolutely essential that the U.S. maintain its competitive edge in the world market. This bill will help us take the strong, needed steps to get our children the education they need to be prepared for the modern economy,” Adam said.

The bill authorizes funding for programs to create more qualified teachers in science and math fields and to support scientific research and innovation through the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The legislation authorizes $22 billion over fiscal years 2008 – 2010 for research, education and other programs at the NSF; $2.65 billion for the research labs, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other activities at the NIST, and $17 billion, over fiscal years 2008 to 2010, for programs at the DOE, including $150 million for K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.

To read more specifics about the bill please link here:

The bill was signed into law by the President on August 9th, 2007

Smith Votes to Support Technology Efforts, Including Local Projects

The House version of the fiscal year 2008 Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3093) passed by a vote of 281 to 142, with Adam’s support.
A key investment in H.R. 3093 includes:

$831.2 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology Research to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness. These funds will support technology development, help smaller U.S. manufacturers compete in international markets, and help pay for the construction of research facilities.
Local technology projects funded include:

$1.1 million for an upgraded shared Automated Finger Imaging System (AFIS) for Pierce County, WA Sheriff’s Office and the City of Tacoma.

$250,000 for the Rainier Communications Commission for the acquisition of wireless routers to enable the pilot testing of a regional backup communications network for public safety and emergency response purposes, facilitating more effective emergency communications across Pierce County.

House Passes Bills to Promote Renewable Energy, Fight Global Warming

Adam also voted for an energy package that will make our nation more secure, create new American jobs, reduce energy costs to consumers, and fight global warming.

“We face serious security and environmental challenges that are tied to our dependence on oil and on foreign oil in particular. These bills will help protect the environment, promote alternative energy sources grown right here in the United States, and help end our dependence on foreign oil supplies,” Adam said.

H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, passed by a vote of 241-172. H.R. 2776, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007, passed by a vote of 221 to 189. Taken together, the bills approved by the House will:

* Help reduce our dependence on foreign oil;
* Make the largest investment in biofuels in history; Repeal $23 billion in tax subsidies and royalty relief provisions for big oil companies;
* Close loopholes that offer incentives for business to purchase gas-guzzling vehicles;
* Support cutting edge-research and the development of new energy technologies;
* Reduce emissions by as much as 10.4 billion tons through 2030 -- more than the annual emissions of all of the cars on the road in America today; and
* Call on the U.S. to re-engage and lead the global effort on a binding global warming agreement.

Smith Sends Letter to NSA Urging Streamlined Defense Trade Licensing

Adam and a bipartisan group of his colleagues recently sent a letter to Dr. Stephen J. Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, supporting industry recommendations to Streamline Defense Trade Licensing – changes which are critical if the U.S. is to maintain its technological leadership role.

The letter urged particular attention be paid to the industry recommendation on streamlining the licensing process related to technology sharing with our allies and partners in the context of U.S. defense cooperative programs and operations.

The number of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) license applications has risen dramatically over the last several years to approximately 70,000. This enormous caseload resulted in a backlog of some 10,000 applications last year and is a problem that cannot be addressed only with increases in personnel or agency resources.

Adam believes significant changes to the way that the State Department manages its caseload are needed - and long overdue – to reduce the number of authorizations required for defense cooperative programs involving U.S. allies and partners and expedites their approval under a programmatic framework in a manner that does not sacrifice national security.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Benchmarking IT Competitiveness

JETRO provided us with a link to the newly (2007) released The Means to Compete: Benchmarking the IT Industry Competitiveness, a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Ltd.

This report develops a methodology (explained in detail in the appendix) to rate countries' IT environment, then applies that methodology for 64 countries. The U.S. is cited as the most positive environment in the world for IT firms. That's by virtue of the U.S. ranking as leader or in the top five of all general aggregated categories. But it, like all others (Western European countries, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan), has weakness. In the U.S., it's the current paranoia about immigration, especially for talented and educated workers who are too frequently lumped into one group with illegal migrants.

The report contends "a skilled workforce is at the heart of any country's IT sector." Plus, with the constantly changing skills requirements, there are concerns that not enough graduates can be developed anywhere. Also, higher level skills have depended on job experiences, a path that's short-circuited with outsourcing. They cite training as an alternative to address that impasse.

The report takes the not unreasonable position that, while success of an industry depends on the aggregate performance of all firms, an individual firm's success is dependent on internal factors as well as the broader competitive environment. This is a shared attribute for all types of business development and investment: "a stable and open business environment."

The report draws into discussion two important aspects of this world-wide industry. One we hear about often is the promise of China and India. However, the report doesn't skip over the weaknesses of these economies and that they in turn have competitors (Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, Vietnam) seeking to take their place. As the report notes, economies that are starting from a blank sheet are able to leapfrog decades of industrial development without being hamstrung by legacy infrastructure.

One aspect frequently overlooked that is examined in this report is the strength of countries (Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Finland) that excel in only certain aspects of IT, but have not or have not chosen to develop a more robust IT industry. These countries may simply be awaiting a public policy epiphany or leaders to become more broadly competitive.

And least we stovepipe IT, we should consider that "most of the change that's happening in other industries is enabled by IT."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Local Bloggers At the IDA World Congress

Do you want to "Find out how a blog works and why it may be an effective, even vital, tool in your district’s arsenal."?

Then mark your calendars for September 16th and head out to New York for the 2007 World Congress put on by the International Downtown Association. In a round-table talk show session that is titled "Building Your BID’s Buzz Through Blogging", two of Tacoma's own will be sharing their expertise with the world.

Paul Ellis, Director for Metropolitan Development for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and civic blogger and Derek Young, the "unabashedly pro-Tacoma" heart and mind behind the South Sounds premier web site Exit133, will be on hand to present and then discuss how their blogging efforts have helped to shape the town and foster its community.

Paul blogs on the BIA Blog website, and is a contributing blogger to this site as will as On Ramp, which he administers.

Derek's efforts on Exit133 which he created in its current form in 2005, have turned it into a media source for the area and a community forum for discussions regarding the district. As the site states, "Exit133 is about Tacoma. It's about Real Estate, Politics, the Arts, Urban Development, and the interests of our readers."

No doubt we will be hearing from both of them all about the event in September. Enjoy New York and blog from the event if you can.

Monday, July 30, 2007

US Chamber & FTC Program for Local Chamber Members

Identity theft is a rising crisis that your chamber, employees, member companies and individuals face on a daily basis. To help address this important issue, the Federal Trade Commission has reached out to the U.S. Chamber with a special FREE offer for local chambers of commerce. As part of the U.S. Chamber’s Data Security Campaign and our Data Security Toolkit is the FTC’s information will help inform business owners about how to protect themselves and their businesses from identity theft, the importance of protecting consumer information and working to reduce fraud.

Below is more information from the FTC about this program. It is designed to be easy to take action on and will significantly decrease your chances of having your database compromised. Please take a moment to review the information below from the FTC. I hope that you will find the Information Security Handbook useful and that you will take the FTC up on their offer to provide you with articles and information for your newsletters and invite them to speak at your meetings.

Most chambers keep sensitive personal information in their files and on their computers, such as tax records, payroll information, financial data from suppliers, and credit card numbers from members. This information is the key to identity thieves being able to drain bank accounts, open bogus lines of credit and shopping sprees at the expense of your customers, employees and your bottom line. If sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud or identity theft.

Security breaches could be easily prevented by common sense measures that cost next to nothing. A sound data security plan is built on five key principles:
Take stock. Know what personal information you have in your files and on your computers.
Scale down. Keep only what you need for your business.
Lock it. Protect the information you keep.
Pitch it. Properly dispose of what you no longer need.
Plan ahead. Create a plan to respond to security incidents.

The FTC is offering FREE resources to help you spread the word to your members that good information security is good business. The FTC offers a variety of resources such as:

Information Security Handbook: “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business," is a 24-page plain language brochure with practical tips for security sensitive data. Chambers should consider sending this link to their membership and encourage them to order free copies for their staff. Visit the page for buttons you can include on your own website.

Newsletter/Email: The FTC will provide you with “Drop in” copy for your newsletter or email. It will include no-nonsense data security tips ready for your next newsletter or email. These can run under your byline or as a guest column by FTC staff. To download the articles directly from the FTC and click on PUBLISH THE ARTICLES.

Speaker for Conference or Meeting: Looking for a conference or meeting topic that is on everyone’s mind? The FTC has knowledgeable speakers who can discuss information security and identity theft prevention. Contact Lesley Fair, or Nat Wood, to see if an FTC staff member is available on the date of your next event.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Warriors Set MOA for Info Sharing

The principal warriors for the nation (Department of Defense/DoD and National Intelligence/DNI) have announced a memorandum of agreement for a shared vision of a joint services based environment to enable information sharing.

The collaboration seeks to create a services-based environment for implementing business and information services. They seek an information services-based environment that is:

1) a mandatory and common foundation
2) has secure mission and business services
3) ensures operational visibility and situational awareness

The DoD-DNI agreement outlines shared goals. The vision will be shared with other government agencies. The memorandum and strategies is online.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tacoma Dorkbot

There is one in London, one in New York, one in Melbourne, Lisbon and, among many other cities, Tacoma. It is “dorkbot”. Their catch phrase is “people doing strange things with electricity...” and they are described as
“a monthly meeting of artists (sound/image/movement/whatever), designers, engineers, students, scientists, and other interested parties from the Tacoma area who are involved in the creative use of electricity - electronic art (in the broadest sense of the word).”
They are meeting tonight at Tacoma School of the Arts' Club SOTA, starting at 7:00pm and it is open and free to the public.

Tonights presentations include one on light sensitivity in behaviour based robotics by one of the undergraduates at the Institute of Technology’s Computing and Software Systems program, Andrew Becherer. Andrew says he will be “discussing behavior based robotics and specifically how to use behavior based robotic techniques to add "personality" to electronic objects.”.


He will also be talking about Lego Mindstorms, which will include a focus on “the work of Valentino Braitenberg and his seminal text Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology.”

Let’s summarize…"How to program toys to behave like animals". Now that has the makings of a Summer Blockbuster.

Laura MacCary, who is a local electronics artist, will be presenting on interactivity between people and circuits. According to the dorkbot announcement she will be showing some of her work followed by an opportunity for the attendees to engage in some hands-on experimentation.
For more information on the Tacoma dorkbot visit

Global Broadband Gets Cheaper

The BBC reported a slice of the report by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) new Communications Outlook 2007, available for purchase or readable online.

The BBC chose to focus on global broadband prices for a comparison among the 30 nations. For example, the U.S. was ranked 4th cheapest for entry level broadband at $15.93/month. Some other highlights the BBC chose were:

1) 60% of its member countries net users are now on broadband
2) Japan's net users have 100Mbps lines, 10x higher than OECD averages
3) Japan's fibre networks can upload at the same speed they download

However, at 310 pages, the OECD Communications Outlook 2007 is a much more extensive report. And, for the first time, there is a special section on the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AeA On Target Mostly

AeA (American Electronics Association) recent report We Are Still Losing the Competitive Advantage: Now Is the Time to Act, acts as both a report card on national political leaders inaction and a refreshed call for action on its report of two years ago, Losing the Competitive Advantage?: The Challenge for Science and Technology in the United States.

While not making its own recommendations, it does choose to reference the findings and recommendations from the National Academies' Rising Above the Gathering Storm, available for purchase or readable online. Taken from that cited resource, the AeA specifies targeted legislation it will support, in particular.

Most of the information and recommendations are familiar ground to the tech industry, although the AeA's emphasis (bias?) on "hard" technology (engineering, physical sciences, math and computer science) becomes debatable when it recommends R&D preferences over life sciences. Particularly incitable is its contention that R&D in "physical health ... is commendable ... (but) technology R&D (as defined) remains vital to the economic health (emphasis retained) of the nation." This point deserves the attention of the biotech industry.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Recognize Initiatives for Growing of Tech Companies

SSTI, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging economic growth through the application of science and technology, will present awards within six categories that employ approaches to help foster an innovative climate for growing science and technology-based companies and jobs. Do not miss this unique opportunity for international recognition and to showcase the excellence of your favorite organization's initiative. Deadline for applications is July 20, 2007.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

GAO: Breaches and ID Theft

Since Congress is considering - and many states have enacted - legislation requiring notification of breaches of sensitive personal data, the GAO studied the issue of resulting ID theft.

Although more than 570 data breaches were reported to media from January 2005 through December 2006, very few resulted in ID theft. In reviewing the 24 largest breaches reported from January 2000 through June 2005, GAO found 3 with evidence of resulting fraud on existing accounts, 1 of unauthorized creation of new accounts, 18 with no clear linking evidence between the database theft and the ID theft and 2 without sufficient info to make a determination of cause.

While noting the opportunity that breach notification gives to consumers, the GAO notes: 1) increased costs to make notifications and 2) the creation of a "crying wolf" syndrome.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Speed Matters

Just released by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a new report and interactive assessment of internet speed.

The report, Speed Matters, purports to show our competitive upload and download internet speeds, mostly as a vehicle demonstrating our competitive position vis-a-vis the rest of the world. That comparison is taken from published sources for the rest of the world, but the U.S. is from a real-time speed test of 80,000 internet broadband users.

You can utilize available maps to get color-coded internet speeds for states, counties and sub-county areas. Try it. Surprising are the speeds given for Tacoma and Pierce County areas, given our competitive broadband environment. However, my test from downtown Tacoma, gave MUCH higher speeds than that for most U.S. states and all but the leading nations.

My test from home (west Tacoma) gave even higher upload and download speeds.

The CWA is supporting a Senate bill, the Broadband Data Improvement Act (S.1492) to raise the definition of broadband (now at 200 kbps - just faster than dial-up) and calls for federal collection of deployment data with grants to states and communities for high-speed mapping.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Congressman Adam Smith Cosponsors Bill to Prevent Unreasonable Fees for Internet Radio

Recently, I heard from several constituents concerned about a Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision to raise royalty rates for webcasters, a change that could amount to an increase of 300% to 1,200% depending on the size of the operation. Webcasters in our region would be severely impacted by such a change. In response, I have cosponsored H.R. 2060, originally sponsored by Reps. Inslee (D-Wash.) and Manzullo (R-Ill.), legislation to prevent the economic chokehold of an emerging media forum that 70 million Americans utilize.

The bill would create royalty parity for Internet broadcasters similar to commercial and satellite radio, amounting to an increase of about 7.5%. There are two distinct and important issues we are dealing with in this bill. First, there is an overall idea of fairness, which is at the core of capitalism and competition. Everyone deserves and needs to be on an equal playing field. Second, we as a society do not want to be setting a precedent of stifling any form of expression or communication. The CRB’s decision would be effectively doing just that to internet radio.

I rely on the questions and comments from the residents in our community to stay up to date on issues that affect my constituents. Please stay in touch with me about technology issues, or any other issues of concern to you.

The best way to reach me is through my Tacoma office at 253.896.3775. If you’d like, you may send inquiries about technology issues to: and for general business concerns or to invite me to visit your business or attend an events it’s best to contact: I look forward to hearing from you.


Adam Smith
Member of Congress

Russell Indexes Beef Up Biotech Listings

Forty-six biotechnology research and production firms, including 15 in Washington State, have moved into the broad-market Russell 3000® and/or Russell Microcap® indexes. These stocks replaced other companies that didn't fare as well during a widely positive year on Wall Street.

Most of the deletions from the Russell 3000 dropped into the Russell Microcap, while those leaving the Russell Microcap moved up to the Russell 3000 or disappeared from Russell's U.S. indexes altogether. Final index membership remains in place for one year. The reconstitution process is followed closely by many investors because the Russell indexes currently benchmark $4 trillion in assets and account for an industry-leading 54% of all institutional investment products.

Other industries that gained the most among the 277 additions to Russell's U.S. index universe are computer services (33), banks (32), drugs and pharmaceuticals (21) casualty-property insurance (27) and crude oil producers (20). Similarly, 43 banks currently in the Russell 3000 and Russell Microcap indexes were removed.

Founded in 1936, Russell is a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and headquartered in Tacoma, with principal offices in Amsterdam, Auckland, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CenturyTel Pulling the Plug on Countywide Wireless Internet

CenturyTel's test of wireless Internet in Steilacoom has determined that the technology works, but the limited profit forecast has pretty much killed the effort, The News Tribune has reported. Columnist Dan Voelpel--long a proponent for free, ubiquitous wireless surfing--inked the program's epitaph for this Sunday's edition.

CenturyTel was the winning bidder to a Request for Proposals last year from the Rainier Cable Commission, responding that it could install a countywide system with limited free access, sell long-term access to residents and businesses, provide free services to government and make money. During its presentation to the Tacoma Technology Consortium, however, the telco's business plan seemed sketchy, at best.

Across the U.S., many cities are finding their Wi-Fi projects costing more and drawing less interest than expected, leading to worries that a number will fail, resulting in millions of dollars in tax dollars or grants being wasted.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spotlight on Business

Mashel Telecom /Rainier Connect recently was awarded a prestigious Spotlight! On Business Award by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Through five generations Rainier Connect has evolved from a fledgling telephone company with a wooden switchboard to a thriving operation that offers local phone, long distance, cable television and high-speed internet to over 9,000 residential and commercial customers across Pierce and Lewis Counties.

One of the premier cable, Internet and phone providers in our region, Rainier Connect President Brian Haynes said a good portion of the company's success is thanks to the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. "It's the people that make the Chamber," Haynes said. "It's great to have that fellowship." Haynes announced that in celebration of the award, any Rainier Connect subscriber who is also a Chamber member would receive half-off one monthly bill.

Measuring Competitiveness

Ed Morrison, blogger, and founder of I-Open, writes in the Spring 2007 GCX (Global Corporate Expansion), of the evolution of economic development indicators/rankings. Most importantly, he focuses on the third generation of rankings/indicators and why they are important to companies and thereby communities.

In his article, he says the third generation of rankings/indicators are divided into three foci: 1) brainpower, 2) innovation & entrepreneurship and 3) quality connected places. He defines each. Brainpower is the global competition for high quality intellects. For communities, this means attention to K-12 education as well as postsecondary educational attainment.

Innovation & entrepreneurship refers to regions where collaborative networks (and supportive resources) are strong and vibrant. And the third area: quality connected places encompasses quality of life metrics as well as infrastructure connectivity (broadband) and social networks.

Many of our local efforts (competitive broadband, UWT's Institute of Technology, Creative Tacoma), fit this model well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pentagon Suffers More

The AP reported this Friday (6-22-07) morning that the Pentagon suffered a cyber-attack on Wednesday that required the shut-down of 1,500 computers. Few details, including what's meant by "computers," considering the range of possibilities, were provided.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is referenced as stating that the Pentagon sees hundreds of attacks a DAY. He went on to say this cyber-attack had no adverse impacts on department operations as employees could still use the Blackberries.

Meanwhile, on another "front," Bill Gertz in Inside the Ring, from Washington Times of the same date reports on new intelligence on China's cyber-warfare capabilities. There is a new assessment of China's ability to attack U.S. and allied defense computers. Already, Chinese-origin cyber-attacks are wide-spread and detected (emphasis added) regularly. Richard Lawless, deputy undersecretary of defense for Asia told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) last week (June 13) about China's strides in cyber-warfare. "They see is as a major component of their asymmetric warfare capability," Lawless said as reported by Gertz.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One Rule to Ring Them All?

There may soon be a single point of contact in Pierce County for searching government records. A county public records "ombudsperson" was one topic discussed at an open-government forum last week that brought together county and state elected leaders.

Looking for public records can be a daunting task, said Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney (District 1), but an ombudsperson would help individuals and businesses decide what they need and then help them find it. "Openness is a primary prerequisite of responsible and responsive government," said Bunney, who is drafting an ordinance to create an ombudsperson in Pierce County modeled on a similar position in the state Attorney General's Office. "Too often public-records requests are dumped on a clerk without allocating additional time or funding. I think the public deserves better."

When Washington state's open public records act was created by initiative in 1972, there were two exemptions to what could be disclosed; there are now more than 300 exemptions, said state Attorney General Rob McKenna, whose "Sunshine Committee" will be reviewing each one and making recommendations to the Legislature next year. "Most of these exemptions should be removed," McKenna said.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag said it's mindset that characterizes governments' approach to public records. If jurisdictions decide they'll work to make public records available, it's different than if they try to find ways to exempt records from disclosure. "In the end, remembering whose business we're doing is paramount," Sonntag said. "We can't forget who's writing the checks."

Sonntag and McKenna both lauded Bunney's proposal. It remains to be seen how his peers on the Pierce County Council will respond.