Friday, March 27, 2009

Does Broadband Boost ED?

A new study released by IEDC (International Economic Development Council) seeks to answer the question if broadband boosts economic development.

The study, "The Economic Development Impact of Municipal Broadband," by Craig Settles of, is not a study of the economic impact of municipal broadband systems, but rather a survey of economic development (e.d.) professionals' opinions of the contribution of broadband to effective economic development.

The survey begins with the observation that "elected officials have abandoned their free-muni-WiFi (broad)bandwagons, weaker but wiser." Nevertheless, Settles says this survey supports his 2005 survey of e.d. professionals that broadband investments improve economic development. The targeted population came from the IEDC (International Economic Development Council) membership.

Here are some highpoints from the 22% of respondents that report having muni broadband systems businesses can access. Most often respondents said, to the question of broadband's impact:
  • new businesses moved to the area: too difficult to measure
  • existing businesses stayed: too difficult to measure
  • local companies bettered: too difficult to measure
  • more tourists visiting: too difficult to measure
  • increase in large events: no impact
  • revitalized business areas: too soon to tell

Overall, the majority of e.d. professionals believe broadband is a major tool, especially if targeted, that should lead to significant economic benefits. Wireless networks are cast in a negative light (he cites the WiFi network failures in 2007). And, Settles asks the obvious question: if the existence of broadband is not an economic development catalyst, how do e.d. professionals use this tool boost e.d.?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Students Participating in Cyber Defense Event

This weekend, students from the Institute of Technology will be participating in the 2nd Annual Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on the Microsoft campus. Members of the student organization, the Grey Hat Group, will be presented with a pre-configured systems of a fictitious company that they are tasked to operate.

Then, as described by the competitions web site..

The evil red team, which sits next door, however, will attempt to vandalize and break into this network. The student teams need to defend against the attacks of this red team. In particular, the goals for each team are to:

• fulfill assigned business tasks (so-called injects)
• keep services operational
• prevent break-ins by the red team

Students are scored based on the goals above. The team with the most points of the two day event will be the winner of the Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and will proceed to the National competition.

Justin Carton, the Grey Hat Group president, has been working the group through practice sessions to get them all prepared.

However, a former founder of the GHG and alumni to the program here at the Institute, Mary Jane Kelly, will be part of the "evil red team". She and another alumni John Hernandez, both from Casaba Security, will be tough to handle.

The Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, the University of Washington and Microsoft are helping to put on the event.

You have undoubtedly heard of the last two but perhaps not the first.

The CIAC is...

a Pacific Northwest research, education, industry and government community that provides innovation and leadership in the protection of critical public and private information infrastructure, and provides well educated information assurance and cybersecurity at all professional levels.

Good luck to all. (cross posted at

What’s Online for Broadband Stimulus

The feds recently posted on the Federal Register information about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service plans for their allocation from the Stimulus Bill.

The NTIA was allocated $4.7 billion and the USDA $2.5 billion. The funds were expressly approved for “unserved” and “underserved” locations, but those terms remain undefined. Both agencies are looking for input to these definitions and other aspects NLT April 13.

Six public meetings were held, the last yesterday in D.C. Public comments still accepted.

A recent meeting of these agencies and the Federal Communications Commission produced these five goals:

1. Close the broadband gap in unserved and underserved areas
2. Leverage private investment
3. Create jobs
4. Upgrade connectivity to schools, libraries and other community anchor institutions
5. Stimulate broadband demand

The NTIA is instructed to allocate $250 million towards the Broadband Data Improvement Act for mapping and community initiatives, at least $200 million to expand public computer center capacity in libraries and community colleges and at least $250 million for programs encouraging broadband adoption.

An unusual feature of the allocation is $10 million for audits and oversight of all programs.

There will be at least one grant per state, made in three rounds. All allocations must be made by September 30, 2010.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Forbes: America's Most Wired Cities

Earlier this year, published one of its rankings again, repeated since 2007. This one: The Top 30 Most-Wired Cities.

In this one, Seattle vaulted to the top spot, helped out by a new criterion: wi-fi spots. While it is never certain what geographical area "Seattle" represents, this is good news, but with some challenging aspects. For instance, the most recent comment to the article scolds the writer for lacking in her research and citing Tacoma as "America's Most Wired City," a long-standing claim.

From a research perspective, we need to examine what these rankings are about. cites as its criteria:
  • % of Internet users with high-speed connections
  • number of companies providing high-speed Internet
  • number of public wireless Internet hot spots

The last criterion is a new wrinkle in the rating mix. And, does give us their resources, even if they aren't publicly available, being proprietary.

Of note is the acknowledgement that Portland and Baltimore may deserve higher rankings due to Clearwire's super-fast wireless Broadband; but data lags (always). That's promising for Tacoma's ranking as Clearwire is busy here too. So we'll see what next year brings, especially with the FCC promise of "considerably more detailed" information on broadband access in coming months.

The comparison must be made with Tacoma's long-standing claim as "America's No. 1 Wired City." That claim is based on number of miles of broadband, stemming from the Click!Network municipal broadband development. That claim was bolstered by the competitive responses of Comcast and Qwest.

So, is Tacoma "America's Most Wired City"? Or do we need to heed the changing metrics of an evolving tech world?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cheeky Tongue in Particle Accelerator

Although a forwarded email purported to credit the Lawrence Livermore Lab with the creation of a new heavy material, it's suspected that this is just an amusing spoof of the real accomplishment. Being partial to spoofs and prejudiced for puns, couldn't resist posting it for all:

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 - 6 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

eCrime Researchers Coming to Tacoma

I had lunch with Chris Richardson, Director of External Affairs for Internet Identity, and Foy Shiver, Deputy Secretary-General of the Anti Phishing Working Group, on Thursday to talk about an upcoming conference in Tacoma.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) is a well connected, industry sponsored association which focuses on eliminating identity theft and fraud which results from phishing and email spoofing. Their full charter expands to combating other forms of eCrime.

In conjunction with this effort and the 2009 General Meeting, they have plans to hold the third APWG eCrime Researchers Summit here in October of this year. It looks to be sometime in later October, around the third week, with dates to be confirmed soon. They had originally hoped to hold it earlier in October but there were not enough hotel rooms available to accommodate the conference. With tourism in Tacoma picking up and the growing success of the convention center, that will not be the last time we hear of that problem.

The conference itself is described by the organization as such:

eCrime '09 will bring together academic researchers, security practitioners, and law enforcement to discuss all aspects of electronic crime and ways to combat it, including:

* Phishing, pharming, click-fraud, crimeware, extortion and emerging attacks.

* Technical, legal, political, social and psychological aspects of fraud and fraud prevention.

* Techniques to assess the risks and yields of attacks and the success rates of countermeasures.

* Best practices related to digital forensics tools and techniques, investigative procedures, and evidence acquisition, handling and preservation.

... and more.

They will be issuing a call for papers soon, and hope to get folks like the "grey hat" student organization and faculty involved as well.

Events like this happen here because of efforts and encouragement from folks like Chris at Internet Identity. Given that Internet Identity, is a growing company with roots in Tacoma, it is more evidence of the strength we have in an information assurance and data integrity cluster here. "Internet Identity is focused on helping financial services, e-commerce and internet services companies protect their users against phishing and other forms of online fraud."

It was great meeting Foy and am looking forward to an international conference being held here later in the year.


PS: Here is scholarship information in regards to the conference.

APWG eCrime-Fighter Scholarship Program

The APWG eCrime-Fighter Scholarship program will promote counter-ecrime research by encouraging participation in the APWG eCrime Researcher Summit. Participants submitting papers and posters to the 2009 Summit are automatically entered into the program. This program will consist of both cash and travel awards based on the results of the blind paper and poster review process.

* One cash award of $1000 for the overall best paper
* A limited number of cash travel awards for student authors of papers and posters

Cash Awards will be announced during the October 2009 Event. Travel Awards will be announced at the end of the submission review process.

cross posted at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weed Selected for New Dept. of Commerce

Gov. Chris Gregoire introduced her new head for a redesigned state Department of Commerce (formerly Dept. of Community, Trade and Economic Development). The announcement was made at a luncheon presented by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Prosperity Partnership, and the Washington Roundtable.

He is Rogers Weed, formerly a corporate vice president at Microsoft where he spent 15 years. The Governor said: "Innovation has been at the center of Rogers’ entire working life. Rogers earned an undergraduate degree in computer science from Duke University and an MBA from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania."