News briefs: On the Edge

Nationwide reach

By aggregating the services of 30 North American cellular providers, Aeris.net of San Jose, Calif., has built what executives consider the largest wide area, wireless network for carrying machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

M2M encompasses low-bandwidth messaging among computers, sensors, networks and other systems, a market that could reach $31 billion in 2008, according to Wireless Data Research Group of San Mateo, Calif.

Aeris.net's first customers are in the private sector, such as Union Pacific Railway, which uses the network to monitor freight cars around the country. But company officials said they are seeing substantial interest in using the network for homeland security applications.


Dueling Web services

Layer 7 Technologies Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, launched a new appliance aimed at better integrating and securing Web services.

Before communication such as an Extensible Markup Language message can be passed between applications, the two systems have to agree on formats, security requirements and identity management policies. Layer 7's SecureSpan Bridge automatically negotiates those agreements without user intervention, which becomes increasingly important as government agencies share applications as Web services.

For now, the SecureSpan Bridge doesn't work with other companies' Web services gateways. It only works with Layer 7's SecureSpan Gateway and SecureSpan Manager. Company officials said that will change as standards emerge.


No fooling the feds

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed a system for law enforcement investigators to visualize audiotape tampering even as they're listening to tapes. The system combines a standard cassette player and 64 customized magnetic sensors. The sensors detect and map microscopic magnetic fields on audiotapes and display the information on an attached computer system. Examiners can also determine whether the tape is a copy.

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