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Fit for Purpose: Toward an Engineering Basis for Data Exchange Standards

September 12, 2013 Comments off

Fit for Purpose: Toward an Engineering Basis for Data Exchange Standards
Source: MITRE

Data standards are a powerful, real-world tool for enterprise interoperability, yet there exists no rigorous methodology for selecting among alternative standards approaches. This paper is a first step toward creating a detailed engineering basis for choosing among standards approaches. We define a specific sub-problem within a community’s data sharing challenge, and focus on it in depth. We describe the major choices (kinds of standards) applied to that task, examining tradeoffs. We present characteristics of a data sharing community that one should consider in selecting a standards approach—such as relative power, motivation level, and technical sophistication of different participants—and illustrate with real-world examples. We then show that one can state simple decision rules (based on engineering experience) that system engineers without decades of data experience can apply. We also comment on the methodology used, extracting lessons (e.g., “negative rules are simpler”) that can be used in similar analyses on other issues.

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Modeling and Simulation of a Ground Based Sense and Avoid Architecture for Unmanned Aircraft System Operations

August 7, 2013 Comments off

Modeling and Simulation of a Ground Based Sense and Avoid Architecture for Unmanned Aircraft System Operations
Source: Mitre Corporation

The safe operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System necessitates a capability to sense and avoid other airborne objects. One solution is a Ground Based Sense and Avoid concept, where data from ground-based radars are fused in a specially tuned tracking system that can provide traffic information to manual (flight crews) or automatic collision avoidance systems. In this paper, we will present a modeling and simulation approach for assessing site-specific radar detection and tracking performance. High fidelity primary surveillance radar and tracking system models enable simulation studies with the objective of determining target probability of detection and distributions of expected track initiation times across the surveillance volume. Atmospheric and environmental conditions, terrain, and land coverage type affect radar wave propagation. Models take into account these sources of degradation, as well as target characteristics, site-specific radar performance, and tracking system filtering and initiation logic. This information will help in the development of a GBSAA concept of operation, mission planning, and will ultimately define where UAS can operate with sufficient surveillance performance to meet sense and avoid requirements.

Progress and Promise: Research and Engineering for Human Sociocultural Behavior Capability in the US Department of Defense

July 12, 2013 Comments off

Progress and Promise: Research and Engineering for Human Sociocultural Behavior Capability in the US Department of Defense (PDF)
Source: Mitre Corporation

Progress and Promise is an update on defense-sponsored sociocultural behavior modeling research and engineering from 2008 through 2013. It was prepared by The MITRE Corporation in its role as systems engineer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Human Social Culture Behavior (HSCB) Modeling Program led by Captain Dylan Schmorrow, USN. CAPT Schmorrow served as the HSCB Program Manager from 2008 through 2013.

The point of reference for this document is a 2006 OSD report on human social cultural behavior modeling research and capability. The report identified major capability gaps and recommended substantially increased investment, particularly in Budget Activities 2 through 4 (Applied Research, Advanced Technology Development, and Advanced Component Development and Prototypes). It also recommended more centralized governance of relevant research across the Department of Defense (DoD).

Progress and Promise gives particular attention to the activities, accomplishments, and impacts of the OSD HSCB Modeling Program, given that it was the primary response to the OSD report. This document also summarizes other major initiatives across DoD and highlights accomplishments and impacts of relevant programs and projects. Finally, it discusses current and expected future national security challenges, outlines a long- term vision for sociocultural behavior capabilities, identifies research thrusts to enable those capabilities, and offers programmatic recommendations to move forward.

XML Risks and Mitigations

June 27, 2013 Comments off

XML Risks and Mitigations
Source: MITRE Corporation

The material in these slides cover many of the basic security considerations of XML. People who design XML documents and applications should know and understand these considerations. The material explains the various aspects of XML security. It presents basic information about XML and discusses how these fundamental truths influence XML security. It describes a range of XML security issues, including several that are sometimes overlooked. The objective is to help the reader become better informed about which security concepts apply to a given use case and obtain recommendations for implementing those security concepts. The slides do not repeat step-by-step instructions that are provided elsewhere. For example, the slides might recommend that an XML document be digitally signed to provide authentication or integrity protection, but it does not explain in detail how to digitally sign an XML document. Rather, the reader is referred to the XML Digital Signature specification. The slides discuss the risks and mitigations of:

  • Using Unicode in XML documents
  • Unused namespaces
  • Namespace prefixes
  • Hidden markup
  • Exponentially expanding external entities (for example, Billion Laughs Attack)
  • Exponential regular expressions

Cyber Resiliency Assessment: Enabling Architectural Improvement

June 3, 2013 Comments off

Cyber Resiliency Assessment: Enabling Architectural Improvement

Source: MITRE Corporation

Cyber resiliency assessments are intended to identify where, how, and when cyber resiliency techniques can be applied to improve architectural resiliency against advanced cyber threats. This document presents a general process for architectural assessment. The process can be applied to an operational or as-is architecture, to identify first steps or quick wins for improving resilience against advanced cyber threats. The process can also be applied to a notional or to-be architecture, to identify opportunities to provide greater and more cost-effective resilience, and/or to support the development of a cyber resiliency improvement roadmap. The process is supported by assessment scales and questions. Because the set of cyber resiliency techniques continues to evolve, detailed discussion of selected techniques, including POET considerations, is provided.

Leveraging Public Information about Pathogens for Disease Outbreak Investigations

April 22, 2013 Comments off

Leveraging Public Information about Pathogens for Disease Outbreak Investigations

Source: MITRE Corporation

With recent technological advances in DNA sequencing and access to information via internet databases, the amount of information about pathogen strains in the public domain is growing rapidly. This information can be leveraged to help identify the origins of pathogens that cause disease outbreaks. This report describes potential uses for public data in outbreak investigations, key data types, the formats and locations of pathogen data in public sources, and tools MITRE is designing for assembling and integrating information during disease outbreak investigations.

Integrating Unmanned Aircraft into NextGen Automation Systems

October 19, 2012 Comments off

Integrating Unmanned Aircraft into NextGen Automation Systems
Source: Mitre Corporation

The routine integration of unmanned aircraft into non-segregated civil airspace is important to enable a number of current and proposed applications ranging from military and homeland security to a wide variety of research and eventually commercial purposes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently undertaking a comprehensive overhaul of the National Airspace System (NAS) known as Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NextGen will include increased automation systems for both terminal and en-route Air Traffic Control (ATC). Improvements in two-way data communication links between aircraft and ATC will facilitate the use of such automation systems. The robust integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into NextGen automation systems is an integral component to meeting the far-term (2018+) NextGen vision. By determining how UAS flight operations and protocols may be different than those of traditional manned aircraft, informed decisions can be made concerning the data and interfaces required to accommodate routine UAS operations by NextGen automation systems, ultimately leading to safer and more efficient integration of UAS into non-segregated civil airspace. This paper describes many of the challenges associated with such accommodation as well as proposed solutions to address these challenges based upon construction of prototype interfaces using established UAS communication standards and envisioned ATC automation interfaces. Enhanced data formats, communication protocols and algorithms are also researched and discussed.

A New Paradigm for Small UAS (Drones)

July 21, 2012 Comments off

A New Paradigm for Small UAS
Source: Mitre Corporation

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are different than almost any other kind of aircraft. They can fly in places where no manned aircraft flies or where it would not be desirable to fly. They also pose different risks based upon their small size and performance. Today, the FAA regulates all navigable airspace, which extends to the ground. Within this airspace, there are some areas in which manned aircraft are simply not capable of flying by existing Federal Regulations. This may include areas that are very close to the sides of buildings, under bridges, below tree cover, and near power cables. Our research envisions that small UAS might make use of this airspace, which would be considered non-navigable by traditional manned aircraft due to the proximity of obstacles. Additionally, a small UAS may weigh only ounces. An aircraft that small is likely to pose a vastly different risk to people and property on the ground than would manned aircraft. Considering usage of airspace and the associated risk in this manner represents a departure from current thinking and may influence the methods of regulating these new aircraft. This paper explores and discusses this potential new paradigm further, and illustrates the implications with a set of operational scenarios.

Situating Anonymization Within a Privacy Risk Model

April 4, 2012 Comments off

Situating Anonymization Within a Privacy Risk Model
Source: MITRE

Privacy risk analysis of complex socio-technical systems suffers from an inadequate risk model that focuses primarily on some form of Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs). Anonymization as a privacy risk control suffers from an emphasis on risk of failure, neglecting the circumstances surrounding its selection as a risk control in the first place. By interrelating an enhanced privacy risk model that goes beyond FIPPs and an integrated anonymization framework, the selection and implementation of anonymization as a privacy risk control can be more systematically considered and carried out. The Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sponsored development of both an integrated anonymization framework and an enhanced privacy risk model to support more effective privacy risk management. Both of these are described at a high level and their interoperability illustrated by application to the Google Street View controversy.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Impacts of Severe Space Weather on the Electric Grid

December 22, 2011 Comments off

Impacts of Severe Space Weather on the Electric Grid (PDF)
Source: Mitre Corporation (JASON; via Federation of American Scientists)

Tasked by the Department of Homeland Security, the 2011 JASON Summer Study focused on the impact of space weather on the electric grid, seeking to understand 1) the current status of solar observations, warnings, and predictions, 2) the plausibility of Mr. Kappenman’s worst-case scenario, 3) how previous solar storms have affected some power grids, and 4) what can be done at reasonable cost to protect our grid. This report builds on two previous JASON studies of different aspects of the U.S. electric grid.

National Airspace System Security Cyber Architecture

June 11, 2011 Comments off

National Airspace System Security Cyber Architecture
Source: Mitre Corporation

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manages US airspace to promote safe and efficient operations. The FAA is presently revamping its infrastructure to accommodate new air traffic control (ATC) services and to reduce risks associated with cyber threats. A description of the cyber security architecture, being deployed, is provided. The transition from a safety culture to a cyber security and safety culture is a part of this deployment. This transition is considered essential to the success of the architecture and it is also described.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

A Comparative Study of PDF Generation Methods: Measuring Loss of Fidelity When Converting Arabic and Persian MS Word Files to PDF

June 9, 2011 Comments off

A Comparative Study of PDF Generation Methods: Measuring Loss of Fidelity When Converting Arabic and Persian MS Word Files to PDF
Source: Mitre Corporation

Converting files to Portable Document Format (PDF) is popular due to the format’s many advantages. For example, PDF allows an author to control or preserve the rendering of a digital document, distribute it to other systems, and ensure that it displays in a viewer as intended.

From the perspective of Human Language Technology (HLT), however, PDFs are problematic. PDF is a display-oriented digital document format; the point of PDF is to preserve the appearance of a document, not to preserve the original electronic text. We observed errors in PDF-extracted text indicating that either the PDF generator or extractor, or both, mishandled the document structure, character data, and/or entire textual objects. And we learned that other HLT researchers reported data loss when extracting electronic text from PDFs. This motivated further study of digital document data exchange using PDFs.

MITRE conducted an exploratory study of data exchange using PDF in order to investigate the data loss phenomenon. We limited our study to Middle Eastern electronic text: specifically Arabic and Persian. The study included a test for scoring PDF generation methods—(a) using a common, best-practice setup to generate PDFs and extract text, and (b) using character accuracy to quantify the quality of PDF-extracted text. We ranked 8 methods according to the resulting accuracy scores. The 8 methods map to 3 core PDF generation classes. At best, the Microsoft Word class resulted in 42% Overall Accuracy. Best scores for the PDFMaker and Acrobat Distiller/PScript5.dll classes were 95% and 96%, respectively.

This paper explains our tests and discusses the results, including evidence that using PDF for data exchange of typical Arabic and Persian documents results in a loss of important electronic text content. This loss confuses human language technologies such as search engines, machine translation engines, computer-assisted translation tools, named entity recognizers, and information extractors.

Furthermore, most of the spurious newlines, spurious spaces in tokens, spurious character substitutions, and entity errors observed in the study were due to the PDF generation method, rather than the PDF text extractor. So, using a common configuration to convert reliable electronic text to PDF for data exchange causes irretrievable loss of electronic text on the receiving end.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Measuring the Forecast Accuracy of Intelligence Products

June 6, 2011 Comments off

Measuring the Forecast Accuracy of Intelligence Products
Source: Mitre Corporation

Our experience has been that many in the Intelligence Community are resistant to the idea of rigorous, scientific measurement of the accuracy of analytic forecasts, preferring instead to evaluate analyses through a critical review process. Unfortunately, research and experience in other complex domains show that expert self-assessments based only on critical reviews frequently result in measurably incorrect lessons learned. In this paper we argue that the Intelligence Community should adopt a program of rigorous, scientific measurement of forecast accuracy, because such a program is essential to improving accuracy. The paper also describes a new method for measuring the accuracy of analytic forecasts expressed with verbal imprecision. The method was used to evaluate the accuracy of ten open source intelligence products, including the declassified key judgments in two National Intelligence Estimates. Results show that forecasts in these products were reasonably calibrated, with a strong positive correlation between the strength of the language used to express forecast certainty and the frequency with which forecast events actually occurred. These results demonstrate that the forecast accuracy of analytic products can be measured rigorously.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Improving Departure Taxi Time Predictions Using ASDE-X Surveillance Data

May 28, 2011 Comments off

Improving Departure Taxi Time Predictions Using ASDE-X Surveillance Data
Source: Mitre Corporation

Often flights incur a large percentage of delay on the ground during the departure process; however, predicting the taxi-out time is difficult due to uncertainties associated with the factors influencing it, such as airport surface traffic, downstream traffic restrictions, runway configuration, weather, and human causes. Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) surveillance data provides high resolution coverage of aircraft surface movement which can be leveraged to address this problem. This paper presents a novel approach which builds an adaptive taxi-out prediction model based on a historical traffic flow database generated using ASDE-X data. The model correlates taxi-out time and taxi-out delay to a set of explanatory variables such as aircraft queue position, distance to the runway, arrival rates, departure rates and weather. Two prediction models are developed. One treats aircraft movement from starting location to the runway threshold uniformly while the other models aircraft time to get to the runway queue different from the wait time experienced by the aircraft while in the runway queue. The models are evaluated using data from New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) airport during the summer of 2010. Results show significant improvement in taxi-out predictions as compared to predictions using FAA’s Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) data.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Determining Assertion Status for Medical Problems in Clinical Records

May 6, 2011 Comments off

Determining Assertion Status for Medical Problems in Clinical Records
Source: Mitre Corporation

This paper describes the MITRE system entries for the 2010 i2b2/VA community evaluation “Challenges in Natural Language Processing for Clinical Data” for the task of classifying assertions associated with problem concepts extracted from patient records. Our best performing system obtained an overall micro-averaged F-score of 0.9343. The methods employed were a combination of machine learning (Conditional Random Field and Maximum Entropy) and rule-based (pattern matching) techniques.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Air Traffic Controllers — Human Performance and Fatigue Research

April 25, 2011 Comments off

Human Performance and Fatigue Research for Controllers (PDF)
Source: Mitre Corporation

Fatigue has been on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) “Most Wanted List” since the initial list in 1990 and remains a topic of active investigation to this day. The focus of this document was placed on Air Traffic Controller fatigue. In order to provide a starting point for future applied research pertaining to air traffic controllers, MITRE analyzed existing research to: 1) review what is known about the effect of fatigue on performance, 2) identify gaps in knowledge, and 3) develop a plan to fill those gaps. While a wealth of historical and current studies were examined during the course of the review, the majority of research fails to adequately address many current areas of concern within the aviation community. Gaps identified during the review were prioritized based on the estimated risk to safety in the National Airspace System (NAS) from highest to lowest. Finally, studies were recommended to quantify Air Traffic Controller fatigue for all positions, validate measures of Air Traffic Controller performance sensitive to fatigue, validate individual shift schedules, collect data to support sleep disorder policy, and validate human performance models to predict fatigue. Multiple appendices supporting the analysis are provided, forming a comprehensive collection of reference material for the global fatigue research community. A major contribution of this initiative is to help highlight the areas of research that are currently lacking and to encourage a collaborative effort to achieve a broader understanding of the causal factors for fatigue in aviation as well as investigate how these factors interact.

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