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Tech Beat - February 6, 2013

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Editor: Michael Baum
Date created: February 6, 2013
Date Modified: February 6, 2013 
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New Reports Define Strategic Vision, Propose R&D Priorities for Future Cyber-Physical Systems

If designed and built efficiently, flexibly and securely, next-generation cyber-physical systems (CPS) now sprouting from interconnections that join the digital and engineered physical worlds will deliver extraordinary capabilities and tremendous benefits on scales ranging from individuals to organizations and from industries to national and global economies.

CPS report covers
Credit: Young/NIST

Three new reports prepared for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) distill the perspectives of executives and technical experts from industry, academia and government on the "ifs" and the "what's next" of emerging intelligent systems-of-systems technologies. Complex technical, institutional and societal challenges notwithstanding, future CPS could have sweeping impacts on how we live, work and do business, according to the reports.

"CPS are enabling a new generation of 'smart systems'—and the economic impacts could be enormous," explains the summary report of a NIST-organized roundtable of industry and government executives and university leaders. "The disruptive technologies emerging from combining the cyber and physical worlds could provide an innovation engine for a broad range of U.S. industries, creating entirely new markets and platforms for growth."

CPS go well beyond today's "embedded systems," which are largely task-specific machines that operate under computer control. Anticipated CPS uses such as intelligent vehicles and highways and next-generation air transportation will be significantly more ambitious, diverse and integrated than those of today's task-specialized embedded systems.*

The broad sweep of anticipated CPS uses is suggested by a variety of other labels inspired by the convergence of networking and information processing technologies with engineered physical systems. Together, they create systems that integrate distributed networks of sensors, controls and processors—for example, "internet of things," "industrial internet" and "smarter planet."

The good news, according to the experts assembled by NIST, is that the United States, as the world leader in cutting-edge cyber technologies and engineered physical systems, is well-positioned to reap the competitive advantages of developing and mastering advanced CPS. But other nations are not conceding these advantages.

The European Union, for example, plans to invest $7 billion on embedded systems and CPS, with the aim of becoming a global leader in the field by 2020. Japan, which currently hosts the world's largest tradeshow on embedded systems, has similar ambitions.

Developed with input from about 80 experts in CPS and related technologies, the new reports provide a strategic vision and business drivers motivating concerted public-private efforts to achieve the unprecedented capabilities of next-generation CPS within the next two decades. They also provide a multilayered view of the research and development challenges that must be solved to realize this potential. Sectors singled out to illustrate both the promise of anticipated CPS applications and obstacles that stand in the way include smart manufacturing, smart utilities, smart buildings and infrastructure, and smart transportation and mobility.

Transcending challenges and needs include cybersecurity, technology platforms with integrated architectures, interoperability standards, communication protocols, performance and quality assurance systems, seamless human-CPS interactions and education and workforce training.

The three reports are:

* For examples, see the Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office at www.its.dot.gov/ and its Federal Aviation Administration NextGen Program Office at http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/

Media Contact: Mark Bello, mark.bello@nist.gov, 301-975-3776

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Report from the Field: Using Internally Cured Concrete in Indiana Bridges

Purdue University video on internal curing of concrete.

A recent news story from Purdue University describes how Indiana state transportation officials are making concrete use of concrete research to extend the service life of bridge decks in the state and to lower repair and maintenance costs. The Indiana engineers are using new "internally cured" high-performance concrete, a technology championed by researchers from Purdue and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Water is an essential part of the chemical reaction that gives concrete its strength, explains NIST engineer Dale Bentz, and it can add to the strength of the material for a long time, if it's available. "The chemical reaction is ongoing for years and years," Bentz explains. "It essentially never stops, but it keeps going slower and slower. Usually, about 75 percent of the reaction has occurred by 28 days, but the other 25 percent might happen over many, many years, as long as there is still water available and those reactions can still take place."

Bentz worked with Purdue's Jason Weiss on the definitive review* of internal curing, a technique to extend the life and durability of concrete by distributing an extra supply of water uniformly throughout the concrete in absorbent materials that are mixed in with the cement and aggregate that make up concrete. (See the March, 2011, NIST Tech Beat story, "High-Tech Concrete Technology Has a Famous Past" at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20110315.cfm#concrete.)

One of the most important effects of internal curing is to make the concrete more resistant to early-age cracking, Bentz says. This is especially important for concrete bridge decks, where such cracks allow winter deicing salts to more rapidly infiltrate the concrete and attack steel reinforcing bars.

In addition, says Bentz, internal curing is particularly important for "greener," more environmentally friendly concrete mixtures. "For sustainability, engineers are trying to take out more cement and replace it with other materials, such as fly ash. Cement production is very energy intensive and has a significant CO2 footprint—making a ton of cement produces almost a ton of carbon dioxide. But in these high-volume fly ash mixtures, internal curing is important because while the fly ash will react with the cement, it takes a lot longer. After 28 days, maybe 30 percent or less of the fly ash has reacted, so you really need to keep the concrete saturated for an extended period of time."**

Read the Purdue University story, "Indiana using new concrete to increase bridge life span" at www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q1/indiana-using-new-concrete-to-increase-bridge-life-span.html.

Another recent development of the NIST and Purdue work on internal curing is the approval, this past summer, of a new standard specification by ASTM International. ASTM C1761-12, Standard Specification for Lightweight Aggregate for Internal Curing of Concrete, provides test methods and other information for evaluating and incorporating lightweight, absorbent aggregates for internal curing of concrete.

* D.P. Bentz and W.J. Weiss. Internal Curing: A 2010 State-of-the-Art Review (NISTIR 7765). Feb. 2011. Available at: www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=907729.
** See, for example: I. de la Varga, J. Castro, D. Bentz and W.J. Weiss. Application of internal curing for mixtures containing high volumes of fly ash. Cement and Concrete Composites, 34 (9), 1001-1008, 2012.

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, 301-975-2763

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NIST to Host Three Presidential Innovation Fellows

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) expects to host three new Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) from the latest round announced yesterday by the White House.* The PIF program pairs top innovators from the private sector, nonprofits and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate during six-to-12 month “tours of duty” that aim to save lives, save taxpayer money and fuel job creation. Fellows are funded by the sponsoring agencies.

This is the second round of the PIF program, which began in 2012, and expands it to nine projects, five of which are new, including those that involve NIST. Applications to be a Round 2 Fellow will be accepted through March 17, 2013.

NIST’s three fellows will work on two different projects: Cyber-Physical Systems and MyData Initiatives. Cyber-Physical Systems refers to combining networking and information technology with physical systems to create a new generation of systems that integrate distributed networks of sensors, controls and processors. These new systems are on the cusp of unleashing innovation in areas such as manufacturing, transportation, utility infrastructures and buildings, including home appliances and remote sensors.**

NIST’s two Cyber-Physical Systems fellows will work with industry and government partners to create critically needed standards for interoperability, cybersecurity, and real-time data analytics based on integrated system architectures.

The NIST fellow in the MyData Initiatives project will work on the Green Button Initiative, which aims to enable energy customers to download their energy usage data securely in a machine-readable format directly from their utilities. NIST’s fellow will be part of a three-member “Green Button for America” team, the other two members of which will work from the Department of Energy.

*For more information on the program, or to apply, visit www.whitehouse.gov/InnovationFellows. The White House news announcement, “Throw Your Hat in the Ring for Round 2 of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program,” is available at www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/05/throw-your-hat-ring-round-2-presidential-innovation-fellows-program.
** See related story in this issue, “New Reports Define Strategic Vision, Propose R&D Priorities for Future Cyber-Physical Systems”.

Media Contact: Chad Boutin, boutin@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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New Guide Will Allow Electric Utilities to Develop Green Button Web Tools

A new guide* for Web developers recently released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will make it easier for electric utilities and vendors to give customers convenient, electronic access to their energy usage data with tools and applications developed as part of the new “Green Button” initiative.

I can haz energy usage data?
Credit: Newman, Talbott/NIST
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Green Button aims to provide electricity and gas consumers with their own energy usage information in an understandable and computer-friendly standardized electronic format via a "Green Button" on a utility's web site. Consumers armed with this information can then use an array of new Web applications to make more informed energy decisions and to verify that their energy-efficiency investments are performing as promised. To help utilities and vendors create Web services and applications that communicate and handle Green Button data appropriately, NIST created a special Software Development Kit, which the new guide will help developers use effectively.

“The User Guide is a playbook for implementation of the Green Button Software Development Kit,” says David Wollman, the NIST lead for Green Button and program manager for smart grid standards and research in NIST’s Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office. “All the different technical innovators—Web designers, entrepreneurs, utility experts—will find the help they need inside.”

Included in the new guide is information on:

  • The composition of Green Button data and how it fits together
  • How to make Green Button data accessible to users via XML style sheets, which render the data comprehensible to the consumer; and
  • Sample source code showing what data to begin with, as well as examples of finished data sets

The User Guide, which is freely available via the website, contains all the lessons learned since the announcement of the Green Button Initiative in September 2011 and the release of the Software Development Kit the following month. It provides a good overview for those utilities not yet using Green Button, Wollman says.

For more information on Green Button, please visit www.nist.gov/smartgrid/greenbutton.cfm

*The User Guide for the NIST Green Button Software Development Kit is available at https://collaborate.nist.gov/twiki-sggrid/bin/view/SmartGrid/GreenButtonSDK and includes a link to the NIST Green Button Software Development Kit source repository. It was produced with the technical support of Marty Burns of Hypertek, Inc., a contractor to NIST.

Media Contact: Chad Boutin, boutin@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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Celebrate 25 Years of Baldrige ... and Learn Something, Too!

For organizations seeking insight toward improved performance and results, the annual Quest for Excellence® conference is the definitive showcase of best practices from the previous year's winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation's highest honor for performance excellence and innovation. In 2013, however, the event will be extra special, as the Baldrige Award and Quest for Excellence® both celebrate 25 years of service and achievement.

Ben Carson
Famed pediatric neurosurgeon, bestselling author and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Ben Carson, M.D., will be a featured speaker at the 25th annual Quest for Excellence conference in April. The conference, celebrating a quarter century of service and achievement for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Baldrige Program, will be held for the first time in Baltimore, Md.
Photo Credit: V. Aceveda, U.S. Air Force
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Registration is now open at http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/qe for the 25th annual Quest for Excellence® conference, April 7-10, 2013. Held for the first time in Baltimore, Md. (at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront Hotel), the conference includes an invitation for registrants to attend a ceremony and celebratory brunch on Monday, April 8, honoring the 2012 recipients of the Baldrige Award (listed with their category):

  • Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas (manufacturing)
  • MESA Products Inc., Tulsa, Okla. (small business)
  • North Mississippi Health Services, Tupelo, Miss. (health care)
  • City of Irving, Irving, Texas (nonprofit)

Additionally, registrants have the option to participate on Sunday, April 7, in pre-conference workshops (for beginner and intermediate users of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence) during the day and the 25th Anniversary Gala, celebrating a quarter century of Baldrige achievements, that night.

This year's Quest will feature two in-depth plenary sessions featuring the senior executives of the 2012 recipients, a plenary session featuring award recipients from international Baldrige-based programs, and numerous concurrent sessions, including:

  • Presentations by each of the 2012 recipients on their successful use of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence;
  • Special topic sessions such asusing Baldrige to survive and recover from the economic downturn, using social media to engage customers, and building and sustaining shared leadership in a continuous improvement culture; and
  • A panel discussion by organizations that were nonwinning applicants for the 2012 Baldrige Award but were recognized for best practices in one or more of the Baldrige Criteria categories.

Tuesday, April 9, will feature a luncheon keynote address by Dr. Ben Carson, director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Renowned for his innovative and groundbreaking pediatric neurosurgical procedures, including separation of conjoined twins, Carson is a 2008 recipient of the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is the author of five bestselling books about leadership, excellence, risk-taking and success.

For more about the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, call (301) 975-2036 or e-mail baldrige@nist.gov.

Media Contact: Michael E. Newman, michael.newman@nist.gov, 301-975-3025

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NIST Issues Call for Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grant Proposals

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a call for grant proposals for a broad range of potential research projects covering the institute's interests in the physical sciences and engineering.

The 2013 NIST Measurement Science and Engineering (MSE) Research Grant Programs, announced on Jan. 29, 2013, comprise grant solicitations for eight NIST research units:

  • The Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) Grant Program supports research in the fields of materials science and engineering, materials measurement science, biosystems and biomaterials, biomolecular measurements, chemical sciences and applied chemicals and materials.
  • The Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) Grant Program supports research in the areas of mechanical metrology, semiconductors, ionizing radiation physics, medical physics, biophysics, neutron physics, atomic physics, optical technology, optoelectronics, electromagnetics, time and frequency, quantum physics, weights and measures, quantum electrical metrology, temperature, pressure, flow, far UV physics and metrology with synchrotron radiation.
  • The Engineering Laboratory (EL) Grant Program supports research in the fields of machine tool and machining process metrology; advanced manufacturing; intelligent systems and information systems integration for applications in manufacturing; structures, construction metrology and automation; inorganic materials; polymeric materials; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC & R) equipment performance; mechanical systems and controls; heat transfer and alternative energy systems; computer-integrated building processes; indoor air quality and ventilation; earthquake risk reduction for buildings and infrastructure; smart grid; windstorm impact reduction; applied economics and fire research.
  • The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) Grant Program supports research in the areas of advanced network technologies, big data, cloud computing, computer forensics, information access, information processing and understanding, cybersecurity, health information technology, human factors and usability, mathematical and computational sciences, mathematical foundations of measurement science for information systems; a metrology infrastructure for modeling and simulation, smart grid, software testing and statistics for metrology.
  • The NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) Grant Program supports research involving neutron scattering and the development of innovative technologies that advance the state of the art in neutron research.
  • The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) Grant Program supports research in the field of nanotechnology specifically aimed at developing essential measurement and fabrication methods and technology in support of all phases of nanotechnology development, from discovery to production; conducting collaborative research with NIST scientists, including research at the CNST NanoFab, a national shared resource for nanofabrication and measurement; and supporting researchers visiting CNST.
  • The Office of Special Programs (OSP) Grant Program supports research in the broad areas of greenhouse gas and climate science measurements and law enforcement standards.
  • The Associate Director for Laboratory Programs (ADLP) Grant Program supports research in chemistry, materials science, physics, engineering, infrastructure, information technology, neutron research and nanotechnology.

In fiscal year 2012, the combined MSE grant programs funded a total of 163 new projects with a total of more than $31.5 million. The funding generally goes to support scientific or engineering research, but may also support conferences, workshops or other technical research meetings that are relevant to NIST's work.

All NIST MSE Research Grant Programs are subject to the availability of funds. Proposals for all programs except the EL Grant Program will be considered on a continuing/rolling basis. Proposals received after 5 p.m. Eastern Time on June 3, 2013 may be processed and considered for funding under this Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) in the current fiscal year or in the next fiscal year, subject to the availability of funds.

The primary deadline for applications to the EL Grant Program is Friday, March 1, 2013. EL will continue to accept applications on a continuing/rolling basis in the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year, depending on available funds, according to the schedule published in the formal solicitation posted at Grants.gov.

Details of scope, anticipated award sizes, requirements and the proposal submission and review process vary with the individual grant programs. The full documentation for this solicitation is available as an Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity at the Grants.gov website www.grants.gov under Funding Opportunity Number 2013-NIST-MSE-01. See http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=218193.

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, 301-975-2763

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NIST Seeks Comments to Final Public Draft of Major Federal Cybersecurity Document

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting comments on the final public draft of Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, Special Publication (SP)800-53, Revision 4. The document, two years in the making, is the latest revision to a document that is considered the principal catalog of security safeguards and countermeasures that federal agencies use to protect their information and information systems.

computer security
Copyright: Junede/Shutterstock

This latest revision of Security and Privacy Controls adds new guidance for handling insider threats, supply chain risk, mobile and cloud computing technologies and other cybersecurity issues and challenges. Other areas addressed in the update include application security, firmware integrity, distributed systems, and advanced persistent threat. The revised SP 800-53 also contains a new appendix of privacy controls and related implementation guidance based on the internationally recognized Fair Information Practice Principles.*

"This is by far the most extensive update to our control catalog since it was first published in 2005," says Ron Ross, FISMA Implementation Project leader and NIST fellow. "We received and responded to several thousand comments from across the federal government, industry and academia during the initial public comment period and have greatly increased the cybersecurity toolset for our customers as a result."

NIST also modified its guidance on security assurance, which outlines how agencies establish confidence measures to ensure that the security controls put in place are effective in protecting critical missions and business operations. The new assurance controls can also help developers of information systems, IT component products and services to increase the degree of trustworthiness in those entities—especially when deployed in critical infrastructure applications. "This supports our strategy of 'Build It Right, Then Continuously Monitor,'" Ross adds.

NIST addressed potential gaps in threat coverage, added new security controls and control enhancements, clarified security control language, provided new mapping tables to international security standards and provided more user-friendly naming conventions for controls and control enhancements. A new concept of "overlays" was also introduced in the updated publication to allow agencies to specialize their security plans for specific missions or business applications, particular operating environments, and for specific technologies.

This revision was conducted as part of the Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative, comprising security experts from NIST, the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community and the Committee on National Security Systems.

The public draft of Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, Special Publication 800-53, Revision 4 may be found at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-53-rev4/sp800_53_r4_draft_fpd.pdf. Comments on SP 800-53, Revision 4 should be sent by March 1, 2013, to sec-cert@nist.gov.

*Fair Information Practice Principles can be found at www.ftc.gov/reports/privacy3/fairinfo.shtm

Media Contact: Evelyn Brown, evelyn.brown@nist.gov, 301-975-5661

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NIST SBIR Technology Commercialization Program to Assist Small Business

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is in search of a partner organization to help small businesses commercialize the technologies they develop as part of NIST's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The partner, with funding from NIST, would offer NIST SBIR companies technical and business advice and resources to assist them in successfully commercializing their research. 

Like other federal agencies that conduct research, NIST annually issues a number of awards to small businesses interested in pursuing research projects related to the NIST mission to advance measurement science, standards and technology to support U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness and to improve the nation's quality of life. This year's NIST SBIR solicitation was recently announced (see the Jan. 24, 2013, news item, "NIST SBIR Program Soliciting Proposals to Solve Cybersecurity and Manufacturing Challenges" at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20130124.cfm#sbir).

Under the SBIR program, small businesses receive funding for research projects in stages designated "Phase 1," a six-month contract to conduct a technical feasibility study, or "Phase 2," in which the research outlined in Phase 1 is actually conducted. Companies are expected to pursue the final phase—commercialization—with other funding sources, because SBIR does not directly fund commercialization work.

Because commercialization is a significant hurdle for many small companies, NIST's SBIR Technology Commercialization Assistance Program (TCAP) will provide some assistance for this step as well as with advice and support for the first two SBIR phases. The TCAP organization will work with SBIR recipients to help them make better business decisions and assist in developing and commercializing new products and processes resulting from the SBIR projects.

NIST anticipates funding a single TCAP project at approximately $100,000 per year for initial planning purposes, for a period of up to five years, subject to the availability of funds and according to the funding rules from the Small Business Administration. The program would start in June 2013.

Nonprofit organizations, accredited institutions of higher education, state or local governments or commercial organizations in the United States or its territories are eligible to apply. Applications are due to NIST by March 15, 2013. For complete details on eligibility, requirements deadlines and other details, see the documentation for Federal Funding Opportunity 2013-NIST-SBIR-01 at Grants.gov at http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=217741.

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, 301-975-2763

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States Realize Big Benefits by Keeping Current with Energy Standards for Buildings

States that have not adopted the latest energy-efficiency standard for commercial buildings are foregoing an average reduction of almost 10 percent in energy consumed by new structures over 10 years, which would trim their energy costs and carbon emissions by over 12 percent, according to a study* by an economist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

As important, the sizeable reductions in energy use and carbon emissions are cost-effective, says NIST's Joshua Kneifel, who analyzed energy usage and other variables for more than 12,500 buildings across 228 U.S. cities. Overall, more stringent efficiency requirements do not increase total construction and future operation costs for new commercial buildings. In fact, the average life-cycle cost over 10 years decreases by an average of nearly 1 percent, Kneifel found.

The analysis reveals that there are energy-efficiency gains to be had nationwide. Even in the 31 states that have adopted the more recent update of the energy standard for commercial buildings,** only slightly more rigorous requirements—such as increasing the thermal efficiency of insulation and reducing lighting densities—can deliver substantial benefits.

Kneifel estimates that if all 50 states adopted a "low energy case" building design, newly constructed buildings would consume about 18 percent less energy in the average state. Over the 10-year study period, this average would translate into energy cost savings of more than 22 percent and a 20 percent reduction in energy-related carbon emissions. Building life-cycle costs over those 10 years would dip by about 1 percent.

The largest energy, cost and environmental benefits, of course, would go to the 11 states that today have no commercial building energy code and the three using the oldest version of the efficiency standard, which is updated about every three years by ASHRAE, a building technology standards organization. If these states adopted the study's low energy design, all 14 would realize at least a 25 percent decrease in their total energy use and reductions of about 30 percent in energy costs and carbon emissions.

Kneifel's analysis is based on computer simulations of how 11 different types of buildings—from high schools, restaurants and retail stores to office buildings, hotels and apartments—use energy. These building types represent 46 percent of the nation's commercial building stock floor space. The 228 cities included in the study were distributed across the nation and are representative of all climates across the country. The study also considered variation in energy sources and fuel mixes for electric power—for example, the percentages of power generated by coal or natural gas.

The NIST economist also conducted detailed analyses of seven states that represent the full range of state energy-efficiency codes, climate types, and new commercial building floor space added between 2003 and 2007. In addition to providing a wealth of comparative information on energy use and efficiency for the seven states, the analyses demonstrate the usefulness of a new NIST database and software tools that will debut in late 2013. Called BIRDS (for Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability), the free, Web-based tool kit will further research, design, and planning efforts focused on building energy use and technologies to improve energy efficiency.

BIRDS complements NIST's Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability tool (commonly known as BEES). Widely used in industry and government, BEES includes actual environmental and economic performance data for 230 building products and science-based techniques for selecting cost-effective, environmentally preferable building products.

* J. Kneifel, Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings, NIST Special Publication 1147, February, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.1147
** ASHRAE Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE-90.1‑). For more information: https://www.ashrae.org/resources--publications/bookstore/standard-90-1#2007.

Media Contact: Mark Bello, mark.bello@nist.gov, 301-975-3776

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Cybersecurity Center Project to Secure Health Information

NCCOE logoThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) invites organizations to participate in a National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) effort to integrate commercially available security technologies with health information systems. The goal is to develop security demonstrations that health care providers can use to protect patient information. The Secure Exchange of Electronic Health Information Demonstration Project was recently announced in a Federal Register notice.

Healthcare providers can deliver better care for patients by offering the capability to record and share information electronically. However, to realize the potential benefits of these capabilities, providers must ensure the security and privacy of health information. The variety of devices and platforms used today present many challenges such as a lack of security controls (for example, preventing a security breach or data loss from a stolen mobile device), the use of untrusted client devices and networks, and problems that may occur when different systems interact.

"Many technologies exist to better protect electronic patient information," says NCCoE Deputy Director Nate Lesser. "Integrating these technologies in a usable, interoperable, secure and cost-effective way will help to enhance information protection and increase technology adoption."

Project participants will provide technical expertise and products to support and demonstrate security platforms. Concepts that will be explored include authentication and authorization mechanisms, secure electronic health information workload platforms, components for secure data transfer/communications, storage and retrieval and mobile trusted client endpoint devices.

"We're especially interested in security solutions that will be affordable and deployable by small health care providers," Lesser says. "They often face the additional challenges of limited budgets, security infrastructure and expertise. We're interested in working with industry to demonstrate security solutions that will provide secure options for anyone exchanging electronic health information."

To participate in the project, send a request for a certification letter to Karen Waltermire at NCCoE@nist.gov (she can also be reached at 240-314-6800). The certification letter must be returned by 5 p.m. Eastern time on March 1, 2013.

Vendors' intellectual property will be protected under the terms of their agreements with NIST. The NCCoE will publish the complete specifications of solutions developed in its lab, including: the model, part and version number of any product used in the build; any code, script or configuration file used to integrate various technologies; user guides and FAQs to aid in the deployment of the build; and any test data generated over the course of the project.

The NCCoE was announced in February 2012. It brings together researchers and experts from academia, industry and government to create solutions for specific cybersecurity challenges. The Secure Exchange of Electronic Health Information Demonstration Project is expected to run for 1-2 years and tackle a variety of issues related to securing health information. For more information on the NCCoE and its projects, visit http://csrc.nist.gov/nccoe/.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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NIST Solicits Proposals for 2013 Grants to Advance Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a new competition for grants to create pilot projects for online secure identity systems that advance the vision of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The goal of the grant program is to accelerate progress toward improved systems for interoperable, secure, privacy-enhancing trusted online credentials that go beyond simple user IDs and passwords.

NSTIC is a White House initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups, public-sector agencies and others to improve the privacy, security, and convenience of online transactions.*

NIST anticipates making multiple awards in the range of approximately $1.25 million to $2 million per year, per project, for up to two years, subject to the availability of funds. (NIST will consider proposals with lower funding amounts.) The deadline for submitting initial proposals is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, March 5, 2013.

"Our goal is to pilot solutions that can demonstrate material advances in identity and authentication and build a stronger foundation for the Identity Ecosystem," says Jeremy Grant, NIST's senior executive advisor for identity management. "We will build on the momentum gained with the successful 2012 launch of our first five pilots and the establishment of the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group."

According to Grant, the 2012 pilot projects** already are addressing known barriers to the development of an Identity Ecosystem—where individuals, businesses and other organizations can have greater trust and security as they conduct sensitive transactions online. The pilots are helping to spur development of a marketplace for trusted identity solutions online, and represent various industries, including financial and government services, health care and online learning.

Like the existing pilots, the new pilots should support NSTIC Guiding Principles that identity solutions will be privacy-enhancing and voluntary, secure and resilient, interoperable, and cost-effective and easy-to-use. They should demonstrate solutions, models and frameworks that are either new or not widely adopted in the marketplace today.

For full details on the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace Pilots Cooperative Agreement Program, including eligibility, requirements and selection criteria, see the notice of Federal Funding Opportunity at Grants.gov under FFO number 2013-NIST-NSTIC-01. Go to http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=218434.

The Identity Ecosystem Steering Group brings together private sector firms, advocacy groups, public sector agencies, and other organizations to improve the processes by which online transactions are conducted. It is holding a plenary, Feb. 5-7, 2013, at the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Ariz. You can find the agenda and instructions for remote participation at www.idecosystem.org/3rdPlenary.

On Feb. 14, 2013,NIST will host a pilot applicants' conference from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time at its Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters and via webcast. In-person attendees must register in advance to gain access to the NIST campus. Visit www.nist.gov/itl/nstic-applicants-conference.cfm for registration and webcast details.

Potential applicants will receive guidance on preparing proposals, hear about the criteria to be used in making awards, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Questions may also be asked through Twitter using the event hashtag, #NSTIC.

Details on the webcast address and registration information for the plenary are available at: www.idecosystem.org/3rdPlenary. Additional information about NSTIC and upcoming related events is available at: www.nist.gov/nstic.

*A copy of the full text of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace signed by President Obama in April 2011 is available at: www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/NSTICstrategy_041511.pdf.
** For more on the 2012 NSTIC pilot program grants, see www.nist.gov/nstic/pilot-projects.html.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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2013 Summer Programs for Science Teachers

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting applications for the 2013 NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers and the Research Experience for Teachers programs. Both programs offer educators the chance to interact with and learn from top scientists and engineers, in classroom and laboratory settings.

summer institute teachers
Participants in the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers learn from NIST researchers through lectures, lab visits, and hands-on activities they can recreate in their own classrooms.
Credit: NIST
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The Summer Institute is a two-week workshop at NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., campus combining lectures, tours and hands-on activities that educators can recreate in their own classrooms. Topics include forensics, materials science, physics and biology, and teachers learn how to incorporate activities into their own curricula.

"We want to give teachers an increased understanding of the subjects they teach and how scientific research is performed," says Mary Satterfield, director of the Summer Institute. "They leave here with materials and resources, a network of researchers and other teachers to connect with, and ideally, an increased enthusiasm for science."

Public school districts or accredited private educational institutes in the United States and/or its territories that offer general science classes at grade levels 6-8 are eligible to nominate teachers to participate. Individual teachers do not apply directly, but through their schools or school districts. NIST intends to support approximately 22 teachers, who will receive a stipend of $2,000 plus an additional amount up to $2,000 for housing and travel for those living more than 80.5 kilometers (50 miles) from NIST. The application deadline is March 20, 2013.

Teachers who have completed the Summer Institute are eligible for the Research Experience for Teachers program, which consists of 6 weeks of research at NIST's Gaithersburg campus. In 2013, three qualified science teachers will have the chance to further their understanding of how scientific research is performed while working side by side with NIST research scientists and engineers. Their projects will combine research with direct applications tailored to developing, maintaining, advancing and enabling the measurement system for the nation. The projects are chosen to be highly relevant to the teachers' interests and the NIST mission.

To read the complete Federal Funding Opportunity and to download an application for the Summer Institute, visit http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=216593, and for the Research Experience for Teachers, visit http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=217033.

A video about the Summer Institute is available at http://youtu.be/Ciov-EVxgnw.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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NIST to Host February 2013 Symposium on the Future of Voting Systems

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are sponsoring a symposium to explore emerging trends in voting system technology, Feb. 26-28, 2013, in Gaithersburg, Md.

wikipedia e-voting
NIST and the Election Assistance Commission are hosting a symposium on the future of voting systems, that will explore emerging trends in voting system technology such as electronic and Web-based voting.
Credit: Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

“Our goal is to bring together a diverse group of attendees representing election officials, voting system manufacturers, test laboratories, standard developers, academics, and federal, state, and local government officials,” said Mary Brady, NIST Voting Program lead. “We’d like to encourage a lively discussion that will help inform standards and testing development.”

Discussion topics will cover:

  • Trends in voting systems
  • Web-based voting technologies
  • How election officials, manufacturers and academics view the future of voting system technologies
  • Alternative standard development processes for voting systems
  • Alternative methods for voting system testing and certification at the federal and state level

Keynote sessions will include overviews of the voting technology landscape and product conformity assessment, as well as challenges in the standards and certification process and in balancing usability and security.

The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) gave NIST a key role in advancing nationwide improvements in voting systems. NIST chairs the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, which was established by HAVA, and which assists the EAC with the development of voluntary voting system guidelines.

NIST researchers study various aspects of voting and publish white papers and guidelines that cover human factors (usability and accessibility), security and voting technology, and regularly host workshops.

To view the symposium agenda, register and find instructions for viewing it via webcast, visit http://www.nist.gov/itl/csd/ct/future_voting.cfm. Symposium participants are encouraged to submit a poster or demonstration proposal for an evening session following the first day of the symposium. Proposals can be submitted to future-voting@nist.gov.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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