Comm in the High-Tech War - Page 2

While support for the unprecedented media coverage in Iraq gets much attention, other companies are developing technologies to support U.S. ground troops as well.

Identity and access management vendor Netegrity Inc. said its SiteMinder access control solution is in use as the access control mechanism for the U.S. Armys AKO (Army Knowledge Online) portal, which supports 1.2 million users around the world.

Pete Morrison, the Washington-based director of Netegritys public-sector division, said the most notable use of the AKO portal is in "kiosks at all the minibases [supporting the war in Iraq] where soldiers are able to send e-mails home from the battle lines."

The technology is at work on the home front as well. Morrison said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying SiteMinder to support the Web site.

The war is also focusing a great deal of attention on GPS. Last week, government officials reported that U.S.-led forces destroyed six GPS jamming systems used by Iraqis to disrupt signals used by the U.S. military on equipment ranging from trucks to bombs.

The focus on GPS and on homeland security has raised some concerns that the government will reinstate SA, or selective availability, the slight signal scrambling technique that made civilian GPS signals less accurate than military signals. The government turned off SA in May 2000. Immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and again last week, the government went out of its way to say that there were no plans to turn SA back on.

"The U.S. government maintains the capability to prevent hostile use of GPS and its augmentations while retaining a military advantage in a theater of operations without unduly disrupting or degrading civilian uses outside the theater of operations," reads a statement on the home page of the Washington-based Interagency GPS Executive Board.

That said, corporate America still has not widely adopted GPS services, not even those companies for whom it makes obvious sense.

"GPS is a solution looking for a problem at FedEx [Corp.]," said Nathan Lemmon, senior technical adviser for wireless systems development at Federal Express Corporate Services, in Memphis, Tenn. "We have not found a justifiable return on investment for equipping our fleet with GPS."