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Tech Beat - April 17, 2013

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Editor: Michael Baum
Date created: April 17, 2013
Date Modified: April 17, 2013 
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FY 2014 NIST Budget Request Emphasizes Advanced Manufacturing, Cybersecurity

The President's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget proposes $928.3 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an increase of $177.5 million from FY 2012 enacted levels. The budget prioritizes NIST research in advanced manufacturing and crucial cybersecurity initiatives.

"The FY 2014 budget increases will allow NIST to address high-priority scientific and technical issues that are critical to U.S. economic competitiveness and innovative capacity," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "NIST collaborative research in fields like manufacturing, cybersecurity and forensics will spur new technology, standards and product development in the private sector and grow the economy."

The proposed NIST budget includes $127 million in new research funding, $25 million for new regional centers to help small and midsized manufacturers adopt innovative technologies more quickly and $21.4 million for new public-private consortia to prioritize research needs.

Full details of the FY 2014 budget request for NIST are found in the April 10, 2013, NIST news announcement, “President’s FY 2014 Budget Request for NIST Supports Research in Advanced Manufacturing, Cybersecurity” at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/budget2014.cfm.

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

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Landmark NIST Study Evaluates Effectiveness of Crew Sizes in High-Rise Fires

When responding to fires in high-rise buildings, firefighting crews of five or six members—instead of three or four—are significantly faster in putting out fires and completing search-and-rescue operations, according to a major new study* carried out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with five other organizations.

firefighters responding to fire
Firefighters respond to fire in 13-story high rise.
Credit: IAFF

"Unlike most house fires, high-rise fires are high-hazard situations that pose unique operational challenges to fire service response. How big a fire gets and how much danger it poses to occupants and firefighters is largely determined by crew size and how personnel are deployed at the scene," says Jason Averill, a NIST fire protection engineer. "It's not simply that larger crews have more people. Larger crews are deployed differently and, as a result, are able to perform required tasks more quickly."

The NIST study, conducted with 13 Washington, D.C.-area fire departments, analyzed 14 "critical tasks"—those undertaken when potential risks to building occupants and firefighters are greatest—found that three-member crews took almost 12 minutes longer than crews of four, 21 minutes longer than crews of five, and 23 minutes longer than crews of six to complete all tasks. Four-person crews took nine minutes and 11 minutes longer than five- and six-member crews, respectively.

The study also looked at the effect of using fire service access elevators to move firefighters and equipment up to the staging floor and concluded that most tasks were started two to four minutes faster when using the elevators compared with using the stairs. The research was conducted in a vacant, 13-story office building in Crystal City, Va., and involved 48 separate controlled experiments, plus 48 corresponding computer-modeling simulations, which evaluated three types of representative fires, from slow to fast growing.

"This study will result in better-informed policy and operational decisions influencing levels of staffing and other resources available for responding to high-rise fires," says Dennis Compton, former chief of the Mesa, Ariz., fire department and chairman of the board of the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. "These are decisions now confronting hundreds of communities across the country."

On the basis of the results of computer modeling, which incorporate data from live experimental burns, the study team concluded that smaller crews end up facing larger fires because of the additional time required to complete tasks. Comparing the performances of different-sized crews, the researchers found that adding two members to three- and four-person teams would result in the largest improvements in starting and completing critical tasks, such as advancing the water hose to the fire location and beginning search and rescue. Improvements ranged from one minute to 25 minutes, depending on the task.

The research team also evaluated whether dispatching more three or four-member crews to a high-rise fire—accomplished by sounding a higher initial alarm—would be as effective as sending a low first alarm contingent of engines and trucks staffed by more firefighters. They found that a "low-alarm response with crews of size four or five outperforms a high-alarm response with crew sizes smaller by one firefighter."

While much less frequent than house fires, about 43 high-rise fires occur in the United States every day. Between 2005 and 2009, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), high-rise structure fires averaged 15,700 annually. Average annual losses totaled 53 civilian deaths, 546 civilian injuries and $235 million in property damage.

The new study on responding to high-rise fires complements a 2010 study from the same research team that looked at staffing levels and arrival times in the context of fighting residential fires.**

For more details on the research and conclusions, read the full April 10, 2013, story, "Landmark High-Rise Fire Study Evaluates Effectiveness of Crew Sizes, Elevator Use" at www.nist.gov/el/fire_protection/high-rise-fire-study-041013.cfm.

The study was funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program

* J.D. Averill, L. Moore-Merrell, R.T. Ranellone Jr., C. Weinschenk, N. Taylor, R. Goldstein, R. Santos, D.D. Wissoker and K.A. Notarianni, Report on High-Rise Fireground Field Experiment, NIST Technical Note 1797, April 2013. Available at: www.firereporting.org.
** See the May 11, 2010, NIST Tech Beat story "Landmark Study Shows How Size of Fire Crew Influences Saving Lives and Property" at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20100511.cfm#fire.

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

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Eleven Companies Join as Partners in National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

In a ceremony on April 15, 2013, 11 major companies formally established partnerships with the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE). The center is a public-private partnership hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It works with industry, academic and government experts to find practical solutions for businesses’ most pressing cybersecurity needs.

Representatives from the new partner companies—Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard, HyTrust Inc., Intel Corp., McAfee Inc., Microsoft Federal Civilian Services, RSA, Splunk Inc., Symantec Corp., Vanguard Integrity Professionals and Venafi Inc.—pledged to contribute hardware and software components and share best practices and personnel with the center. U.S. businesses and organizations face daily threats to their data and systems. According to industry surveys, in 2011 more than 174 million records were compromised worldwide, costing businesses billions of dollars and threatening privacy and consumer confidence.

The NCCoE was formed through a Memorandum of Understanding between the state of Maryland, Montgomery County and NIST. U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, U.S. Cyber Command Commander/National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Keith B. Alexander, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Chief Executive Isiah Leggett and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher participated in the signing ceremony at the NCCOE’s facilities in Rockville, Md.

“Cybersecurity is one of the toughest technical challenges facing the nation today,” said Under Secretary Gallagher. “NIST looks forward to working with these top private-sector companies and our state and federal partners in Maryland to help the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence jump-start its work to better protect our vital IT infrastructure and business information.”

For more, see the April 15, 2013, NIST news announcement, “Industry Partners Join the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence” at www.nist.gov/itl/csd/nccoe-041513.cfm.

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

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Super-Nanotubes: 'Remarkable' Spray-on Coating Combines Carbon Nanotubes with Ceramic

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University have demonstrated a spray-on mixture of carbon nanotubes and ceramic that has unprecedented ability to resist damage while absorbing laser light.*

nanotube composite
Micrograph of one strand of a new spray-on super-nanotube composite developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University. The multi-wall nanotube core is surrounded by a ceramic shell. The composite is a promising coating for laser power detectors. (Color added for clarity.)
Credit: Kansas State University
View hi-resolution image

Coatings that absorb as much of the energy of high-powered lasers as possible without breaking down are essential for optical power detectors that measure the output of such lasers, which are used, for example, in military equipment for defusing unexploded mines. The new material improves on NIST's earlier version of a spray-on nanotube coating for optical power detectors** and has already attracted industry interest.

"It really is remarkable material," NIST co-author John Lehman says. "It's a way to make super-nanotubes. It has the optical, thermal and electrical properties of nanotubes with the robustness of the high-temperature ceramic."

The composite was developed by Kansas State. NIST researchers suggested using toluene to uniformly coat individual nanotubes with a ceramic shell. They also performed damage studies showing how well the composite tolerates exposure to laser light.

NIST has developed and maintained optical power standards for decades. In recent years, NIST researchers have coated optical detectors with nanotubes because of their unusual combination of desirable properties, including intense black color for maximum light absorption.

The new composite consists of multiwall carbon nanotubes and a ceramic made of silicon, boron, carbon and nitrogen. Boron boosts the temperature at which the material breaks down. The nanotubes were dispersed in toluene, to which a clear liquid polymer containing boron was added drop by drop, and the mixture was heated to 1,100 degrees C. The resulting composite was then crushed into a fine powder, dispersed in toluene, and sprayed in a thin coat on copper surfaces. Researchers baked the test specimens and then exposed them to a far-infrared laser beam of the type used to cut hard materials.

Analysis revealed that the coating absorbed 97.5 percent of the light and tolerated 15 kilowatts of laser power per square centimeter for 10 seconds. This is about 50 percent higher damage tolerance than other research groups have reported for similar coatings—such as nanotubes alone and carbon paint—tested with the same wavelength of light, according to the paper. The nanotubes and graphene-like carbon absorb light uniformly and transmit heat well, while the oxidation-resistant ceramic boosts damage resistance. The spray-on material also adheres well to the copper surface. As an added bonus, the composite can be produced easily in large quantities.

After light exposure, the coatings were analyzed using several different techniques. Electron microscopy revealed no major destruction such as burning or deformation. Other tests showed the coating to be adaptable, with the ceramic shell partially oxidizing into a stable layer of silicon dioxide (quartz).

* R. Bhandavat, A. Feldman, C. Cromer, J. Lehman and G. Singh. 2013. Very high laser-damage threshold of polymer-derived Si(B)CNCarbon nanotube composite coatings. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. ASAP Publication Date March 19. DOI: 10.1021/am302755x.
** See, for example, the 2009 NIST Tech Beat article, "New Nanotube Coating Enables Novel Laser Power Meter," at www.nist.gov/pml/div686/laser_050509.cfm.

Media Contact: Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, 303-497-4880

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Prototype Generators Emit Much Less Carbon Monoxide, NIST Finds

Portable electric generators retrofitted with off-the-shelf hardware by the University of Alabama (UA) emitted significantly lower levels of carbon monoxide (CO) exhaust, according to the results* of tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Compared with standard portable generators, CO emissions from the prototype machines were reduced by 90 percent or more, depending on the specific hardware used and operating conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unintentional CO poisoning claims more than 400 lives a year. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of the colorless, odorless gas. Fatality is highest among people 65 and older.

Many of these deaths and illnesses stem from unsafe use of portable generators, often in the aftermath of devastating storms and other causes of electric power outages. For the years 2005 to 2008, the CPSC reports that an estimated 37 to 47 percent of non-fire-related consumer product-related CO poisoning deaths were associated with generators.

The tests performed by NIST compared two commercially available gasoline-powered generators against two similar machines that UA retrofitted with closed-loop electronic fuel injection and a small catalyst. Tests were conducted at NIST's manufactured test home, with the generator operating in the attached garage so as to simulate some common scenarios that often result in deaths or injuries.

In one series of comparisons, generators operated three or more hours in the garage with the garage bay door open and the entry to the house closed. For the stock generator tested, CO levels in the garage peaked at 1,500 parts per million (ppm,which are equivalent to microliters per liter) and inside the house ranged between 150 and 200 ppm.

Clinical symptoms of CO poisoning, including headaches, nausea, and disordered thinking, begin appearing at exposure levels of 100 ppm after at least 90 minutes exposure. During the NIST tests, emissions from the prototype generators ranged from 20 to 30 ppm in the open garage and from 5 to 10 ppm in the house.

CPSC staff conducted health effects modeling using NIST's test results, as part of CPSC's technology demonstration program of the prototype generator, to show that its engine's reduced CO emission rate is expected to result in fewer deaths by significantly delaying the onset and rate of progression of CO poisoning symptoms compared to the stock generator.

On the basis of results of findings from NIST's two earlier studies,** the CDC advises to never run a generator less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area. Steven Emmerich, the lead NIST researcher, reminds that generators should always be operated outdoors, far from open windows. "Tragically, fatalities and injuries occur every year," he says. "We hope our research in support of CPSC's efforts to develop and demonstrate a low CO emission generator using existing emission control technology will contribute to practical safety improvements that will help to reduce this toll."

Annual sales of portable generators have been increasing in the United States and around the world, largely as insurance in the event of power failures. By 2014, U.S. sales of home generator units are predicted to reach $1.2 billion, according to a 2010 report by SBI Energy. The consultancy predicts that worldwide sales will grow to almost 13 million units in 2014.

In their study, NIST researchers also validated the use of their CONTAM*** computer model for studying the performance of prototype generators under a wider range of conditions than those tested. Results of simulations carried out with this publicly available software for studying building airflow and indoor air quality were checked against measurements of CO levels in actual tests. The predicted results were in good agreement with the CO measurements.

* S.J. Emmerich, A.K. Persily, and L. Wang, Modeling and Measuring the Effects of Portable Gasoline Powered Generator Exhaust on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Level, NIST Technical Note 1781, Feb. 2013. www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=912197
** L. Wang and S.J. Emmerich, Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasoline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures, NIST Technical Note 1637, Aug. 2009. http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build09/art009.html
L. Wang, S. J. Emmerich, and R. Powell, Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasoline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures – Phase II, NIST Technical Note 1666, July 2010. http://www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=905887
*** CONTAM multizone airflow and contaminant transport analysis software: http://www.bfrl.nist.gov/IAQanalysis/index.htm

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

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NIST to Launch New Center to Support Nebraska Manufacturers

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is soliciting proposals to establish a new Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center in Nebraska. The award will provide up to $600,000 for one year, to help the state's small- and medium-sized manufacturers enhance their productivity, innovative capacity, technological performance and global competitiveness.

U.S.-based nonprofit institutions or organizations, including universities, state and local governments and existing MEP centers are eligible to submit a proposal. An eligible organization may work individually or form a team with other organizations. All proposals must be received no later than 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 10, 2013, for paper submissions or 11:59 p.m. Eastern time for electronic submissions.

At least 50 percent of the new center's first-year budget must come from sources other than the federal government. This mandatory cost-share increases after the third annual renewal, up to a maximum two-thirds of the center's budget for year five and beyond.

The Nebraska center will become part of the existing network of more than 400 MEP centers and field offices that provide services to manufacturers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The centers provide services by using the most cost effective, local, leveraged resources through the coordinated efforts of a regionally based MEP center and local technology resources. The management and operational structure of each MEP center is based on the characteristics of the manufacturers in the region and locally available resources with demonstrated experience working with manufacturers.

As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates nearly $20 in new sales growth and $20 in new client investment. This translates into $2.5 billion in new sales annually. For every $2,100 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one manufacturing job.

Additional information on the application process is available in the notice of Federal Funding Opportunity posted at Grants.gov (www.grants.gov/) under Funding Opportunity Number 2013-NIST-MEP-NE-01. The Federal Register notice concerning this solicitation was published on April 9, 2013, and is available at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-09/pdf/2013-08232.pdf.

NIST MEP will hold an information webinar for organizations considering applying to this opportunity on April 30, 2013, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Please contact Diane Henderson at diane.henderson@nist.gov to register for the webinar. More information is available on the NIST MEP website: www.nist.gov/mep.

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

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NIST Tests in New York City Suggest How to Improve Emergency Radio Communications

Radio communications can be unreliable in underground tunnels and other large, complicated structures, posing a safety hazard for emergency responders. New tests of wireless emergency safety equipment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have defined the challenges more precisely and suggest how emergency communications might be improved.

Kate Remley and Galen Koepke
at the command post
NIST researchers visited New York City in 2012 to evaluate emergency radio transmissions in challenging settings such as high-rise buildings and underground tunnels. (Top) NIST's Kate Remley and Galen Koepke setting up a base station outside the Empire State Building. (Bottom) George Grammas (on left) of the Fire Department of New York, and NIST's Galen Koepke, Dennis Camell, and Bill Young, at the command post outside the West 4th Street subway station.
Credit: NIST
View top hi-resolution image | View bottom hi-resolution image

In a series of experiments conducted in New York City, an epicenter of underground tunnels and high-rise buildings, NIST researchers measured path loss, or reduced signal strength, which can occur when signals must travel through thick walls and dense material. NIST researchers also found that wireless emergency beacons could be unreliable beyond the street-level stairwell entrance to a four-level subway station, and that signal strength depended on the frequency used in the 100-story Empire State Building. The findings are detailed in a new report.*

"The systems we tested generally operated successfully as long as path loss did not exceed the threshold specified in standards just adopted in November," project leader Kate Remley says.** "But the path losses we measured throughout these structures were generally much higher than the threshold. This means that repeaters or other technology to rebroadcast signals should be used in these and other similar environments, and standards must be extended to these higher-loss cases."

The study is part of an ongoing NIST project, launched in 2008, supporting the development of performance metrics and laboratory tests for electronic safety equipment with two-way radio-frequency (RF) transmission capabilities. The New York tests focused on RF-based personal alert safety systems (RF-PASS), used by firefighters as distress beacons, but the test methods and path-loss results are applicable to other wireless devices such as handheld radios.

NIST tested four commercial RF-PASS systems operating in three frequency bands: 450 megahertz (MHz), 902 to 928 MHz, and 2.4 gigahertz. Researchers measured whether a firefighter-down signal was received by a base station outside the subway or building, and whether a portable RF-PASS unit inside the structure received an evacuation signal from the base station, within 30 seconds, given a certain amount of path loss.

In the subway, communication was poor beyond the entrance unless a repeater was located underground on the pay-station floor. In that case signals could be sent between the street level and the first passenger platform, but not to or from the second passenger level farther below, suggesting the need for a multi-hop repeater relay system. In the Empire State Building, NIST researchers found that path losses increased with RF-PASS operating frequency, and that only one of four systems tested communicated successfully without repeaters over most of the building test locations.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently incorporated NIST's initial RF-PASS test methods into its first standards for RF-based electronic safety equipment.** Until now, the NFPA could not certify RF-based PASS devices, which represent a significant advance in safety because of the addition of the RF transceiver. The NFPA adoption means these NIST methods will be implemented by testing laboratories as part of the NFPA certification process for RF-PASS devices. The New York City tests support NIST's next round of test methods, which will include tests for reliable voice radio and emergency beacon operations in higher path-loss environments.

The NIST tests, conducted with the help of the Fire Department of New York, were funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

* William F. Young, Kate A. Remley, Galen Koepke, Dennis Camell, Jacob Healy. 2012. Performance Analysis of RF-based Electronic Safety Equipment in a Subway Station and the Empire State Building, NIST Technical Note 1792. Available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.1792
** In the 2013 revision of NFPA 1982: Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems, the point-to-point path-loss threshold is 100 decibels. The National Fire Protection Association incorporated NIST's initial RF-PASS test methods into these revised standards.

Media Contact: Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, 303-497-4880

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Webcast Planned for June Workshop on Lyme Disease Measurement

Getting Lyme disease may be easy—the tick-transmitted illness is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States—but accurately identifying it during the early stages of infection is not. The current diagnostic test frequently yields false negatives, resulting in many patients mistakenly going untreated until more severe and debilitating symptoms occur. Additionally, there currently is no way to measure the effectiveness of treatment for Lyme disease or to diagnose Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS, commonly called "chronic Lyme disease," which occurs when Lyme disease symptoms persist even after treatment).

lyme disease map
Map showing the 24,364 reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States during 2011. In 2011, 96 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from 13 states ranging from Maine south to Virginia and west to Minnesota.
Credit: National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
View hi-resolution image

To help address the problem, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is hosting a webcasted workshop on June 6, 2013, titled "Measurement—The Foundation for the Effective Diagnosis and Management of Lyme Disease." There is no charge to view the webcast.

Focusing on the challenges of measurement in Lyme disease, the goal of the workshop is to accelerate the development of sensitive and specific tests for both early-stage Lyme disease and PTLDS. Among the areas for discussion will be:

  • Defining the difficulties faced in the clinical and laboratory diagnosis of Lyme disease;
  • Developing biomarkers to detect the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) and the immune response to the bacteria in an infected host;
  • Advancing the accuracy and reliability of laboratory methods and tools such as immunoassays, mass spectrometry, microarrays, sequencing, transcriptomics, metabolomics, culturing and imaging;
  • Applying nanotechnology to address measurement issues; and
  • Planning for a Lyme disease sample repository that could facilitate comparative and collaborative studies for detection, diagnosis and management of the disease.

For the workshop agenda, a list of speakers and details on how to access the webcast on the day of the event, go to www.nist.gov/mml/nist-workshop-on-lyme-disease.cfm.

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

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Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Workshop Video Available On Demand

The video of the April 3, 2013, Cybersecurity Framework Workshop convened by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is now available for streaming on demand. This meeting, held at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., brought together experts in cybersecurity and critical infrastructure to discuss what issues stakeholders believe should be covered in the framework.

screenshot from video
During the April 3, 2013 Cybersecurity Framework Workshop, Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank calls for critical infrastructure owners and operators to work closely with NIST to develop a strong, voluntary cybersecurity framework that will keep the country safe.
Credit: NIST

In a February 2013 Executive Order “Improving Critical infrastructure Cybersecurity,” the President called for NIST to work with industry this year to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure is defined as systems critical to the country’s security, including economic and public health safety. This framework will be designed to help infrastructure owners and operators to manage cybersecurity-related risk while protecting business confidentiality, individual privacy and civil liberties.

The “Cybersecurity Framework Workshop” video includes keynotes by Rebecca Blank, deputy secretary, Department of Commerce; Michael Daniel, special assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator; Jane Holl Lute, deputy secretary, Department of Homeland Security; and Patrick Gallagher, Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and director of NIST.

The moderated discussions include “Industry Leaders Perspectives,” “Current Threat Environment for Critical Infrastructure – an Industry Perspective,” “Developing the Cybersecurity Framework: Industry Roundtable,” “Critical Infrastructure Partnership and the Cybersecurity Framework,” and “The Path Forward: Panel Discussion.”

The webinar can be viewed at www.nist.gov/itl/csd/cybersecurity-framework-webcast.cfm. For more information about the cybersecurity critical infrastructure framework project, including past and future meetings, the Executive Order, the NIST request for information and the comments provided, see www.nist.gov/itl/cyberframework.cfm.

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

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May Conference to Discuss Safeguarding Health Information Through HIPAA Security

HIPAA logoThe sixth annual “Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance through HIPAA Security” conference will meet on May 21 and 22, 2013, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The meeting is co-hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule specifies federal standards to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information in electronic record systems. The rule requires entities covered by HIPAA regulations—health care providers, health care plans and their business associates, for example—to implement and maintain administrative, physical and technical safeguards for their information systems.

The conference is an opportunity for HIPAA security rule implementers; security, privacy and compliance officers; assessment teams and audit staff in health care providers to explore current issues in health information security and to discuss practical strategies, tips and techniques for implementing the HIPAA Security Rule.

This year's keynote speaker is Eric Dishman, Intel fellow and general manager of the Health, Strategy & Solutions Group. Topical sessions will include updates on the Omnibus HIPAA/HITECH Final Rule, OCR's audit program, managing provider and patient identities, strengthening cybersecurity in the health care sector, integrating security safeguards into health IT, managing insider threats and securing mobile devices.

NIST provides ongoing expertise in risk management, security and standards for federal agencies and has been involved in health information technology research since 1994. NIST is responsible for accelerating the development and harmonization of standards and developing conformance test tools for health information technology.

OCR enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule; the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety; and the Breach Notification regulations requiring HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates to notify individuals when their health information is breached.

For those who cannot attend in person, the conference is being webcast. Registration instructions, current agenda and conference logistics are available at http://www.nist.gov/itl/csd/2013-hipaa-conference.cfm.

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

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NIST to Host Symposium on 'Ontology Evaluation' May 2-3, 2013

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is hosting a symposium on how to develop and evaluate “ontologies”—formal, computer-readable definitions of terms and their interrelationships —at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus May 2-3, 2013.

The symposium should interest anyone concerned with modeling information in a way that computers can make logical inferences about it. Ontologies can help facilitate this process. To create a useful ontology, there must be a way to evaluate the quality of the model, but there are no universally accepted ways to evaluate them. Accordingly, the subject of this year’s symposium is “Ontology Evaluation Across the Ontology Lifecycle.” The goal is to identify the best practices, tools and methodologies for ontology development and evaluation.

The symposium represents the culmination of four months of presentations and discussions that began in January 2013, held via the Internet and known as the Ontology Summit. On the morning of May 3, the symposium will host the signing of a document representing the shared position of the ontology community regarding evaluation techniques and how such techniques should be incorporated into the practice of ontology engineering.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is necessary by April 22. To register, or for more information, visit the meeting’s general website at http://ontolog.cim3.net/OntologySummit/2013/index.html.

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

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