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31 Dec 19. Pentagon awards Govini five-year contract for data. The Pentagon has awarded data analytics firm Govini a $400m contract — a move related to broader efforts to find savings inside the department and bring nontraditional players into the department’s orbit.
The contract, an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity deal covering five years, allows offices throughout the Department of Defense to access data and analysis from Govini’s dataset.
The company has worked with the DoD in various ways since 2017, but this contract represents the largest award the company has received from any government customer. The competitive contract was awarded Dec. 10 through the Office of the Chief Management Officer, which is charged with spearheading an internal efficiency move.
The data will primarily be used to assist offices within the department to find savings and efficiencies, at a time that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has ordered a large-scale review of the so-called fourth estate, which include 27 agencies, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.
Esper has announced roughly $5bn in planned savings from those efforts so far.
Tara Murphy Dougherty, president of Govini’s national security practice, told Defense News that the company’s dataset should minimize the need for expensive, external consultants, which often come with datasets that need to be used outside the Pentagon. The new contract should instead allow individual offices to play with the data on their own.
“This contract puts data directly in the hands of the true subject matter experts, who work within [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and the services,” Murphy Dougherty said. “These decision-makers and analysts are best positioned to create the most effective, most actionable recommendations for reform. And yet, they are often at a significant data disadvantage. Despite the proliferation of data systems across DoD, direct access to authoritative data remains relatively limited for this community.”
The contract also fits into the Pentagon’s goal of trying to bring technology firms into the department’s orbit. While there remain some cultural differences between the tech and defense sectors, companies that are willing to work with the department and can survive the initial challenges of winning a contract can find the Pentagon to be a lucrative customer. Govini now joins West Coast-based firms such as SpaceX and Palantir — the latter of which just received a $110m contract for an Army program — as nontraditional players to receive large defense contracts. However, replicating that for businesses not targeting the government as a customer remains a challenge for the DoD.
“These big wins show DoD is willing to place big bets on tech companies outside of the traditional defense contractors, and big opportunities for American tech companies willing to work with DoD,” Murphy Dougherty said. (Source: Defense News)
27 Dec 19. China shows its dominance in surveillance technology. Country’s companies have made every submission to UN on standards in past three years. The UN has received 20 surveillance standards proposals since 2016 from Chinese groups, including Huawei. Chinese companies have made every submission to the UN for international standards on surveillance technology in the past three years, according to documents reviewed by the Financial Times that show their rising dominance in the field. The UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which has 200 member states and establishes common global specifications for technology, has received 20 standards proposals since 2016 from Chinese companies including China Telecom, ZTE, Huawei and surveillance camera giants Hikvision and Dahua. The majority of the proposals relate to how footage from facial recognition cameras and recordings by audio surveillance devices are stored and analysed, and were submitted to a section of the ITU where experts say representation from European and US organisations is exceptionally light. Half of the standards have already been approved, even though concerns are rising about how Chinese companies are gaining access to the personal data of individuals around the world. China’s efforts to pioneer standards is a reflection of how its companies are seeking to supply surveillance technology across the world.
The ITU’s specifications are often adopted by developing nations — which tend not to have standards-setting bodies of their own — giving the companies that shaped them an advantage in breaking into these new markets. Activists and academics have questioned the rollout of surveillance systems when most countries have yet to debate their impact on privacy and human rights. One proposal to the ITU from China Telecom and ZTE outlines how a surveillance system can trigger alarms and automatically “deploy personnel” if conditions set by its user are met. Several people who attend ITU meetings as part of UK and US delegations said they had concerns about the way in which decisions were reached, alleging that standards were often pushed through by nations with large delegations, such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve sat in the room and watched half of a delegation say they don’t agree, and [a standard] has passed anyway,” said Nick Ashton-Hart, representative of the UK International Chamber of Commerce at the ITU. “You can have a very biased process in which you get the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to prevent something you fundamentally disagree with going forward. There’s an institutional unwillingness to play well with others.” Mr Ashton-Hart recalled a single meeting two years ago in which Chinese companies made 24 scattergun proposals one after the other, all relating to the surveillance of people within cities. “They’re very good at playing the numbers game,” he said. “They use volume of contributions to have weight so that it’s difficult for meetings not to reflect theirs as a dominant view.” Recommended News in Focus podcast12 min listen China’s bid for self-reliance in office tech There are also concerns that Chinese companies may be offering attractive terms for their surveillance systems in return for access to data to train their computer algorithms. “The Chinese surveillance industry is getting to be one of the most sophisticated in the world, so there is profit to be gained off the back of that. These companies have global ambitions. They don’t want to just operate inside China’s closed ecosystem,” said Samm Sacks, a senior fellow at the think-tank New America, and a China tech policy expert. “And they also need to train their AI systems, like facial recognition, on non-Chinese sources of data. If you want to compete around the world on face recognition tech, and your system is only trained on Chinese data, it won’t be as effective.” The ITU said it could not confirm whether all surveillance standards had been developed by Chinese companies. “Whether and how standards are ultimately used is up to the sovereign decision of each Member State,” it added. “The principles underlying the standardization process have ensured that all voices are heard, that efforts to develop standards do not favor particular commercial interests, and that resulting standards have the consensus-derived support of the diverse set of stakeholders that comprise the ITU membership.” “Our vision is to enhance the security of society,” said Hikvision, adding that it strictly complies with the laws and regulations in all countries and regions in which it operates. The other companies developing standards for surveillance technology at the ITU did not respond to a request for comment(Source: FT.com)
27 Dec 19. Australia to invest in advanced geospatial support capability to obtain ‘vital terrain and navigation data.’ The Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra will invest AUD150m (USD102m) in the first tranche of an advanced geospatial support capability for the Australian Army, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced in a 24 December statement.
The minister said the investment under Project Land 1771 Tranche 1 will enable land forces “to use advanced imagery to obtain vital terrain and navigation data”, allowing army commanders to make faster battlefield decisions. Tranche 2 of the same project is expected to provide opportunities for Australian industry to partner with academia in areas such as advanced sensors, machine learning and artificial intelligence, said the minister. (Source: Jane’s)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.