Best of FOSE: New products cut costs, streamline operations
- By Doug Beizer
- Apr 14, 2005
Comfidex Corp.'s VoteFiler, a system that lets users download, complete and print out a voting ballot, won high marks from Best in Show product judges at FOSE.
Imagine relaxing on the sofa in your living room with a notebook computer on your lap. Tomorrow is Election Day, so you pull up a ballot from the Web and fill it out anonymously. If you're not sure about bond issue No. 4, you've got time to research it.
Then you print the ballot, which includes a barcode that is scanned and confirmed at your polling place on Election Day. Your electronic votes are transferred to the Votes Database, and your paper ballot is placed in a locked box in case of a recount.
The product, VoteFiler from Comfidex Corp., was one of 12 products honored at the FOSE 2005 trade show in Washington April 5-7, ranging from a scanner to a notebook chipset.
Judges from Government Computer News and Washington Technology examined hundreds of products at FOSE, produced by PostNewsweek Tech Media, parent company of both publications.
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s ProCurve 3400cl series switches won Best of Show for its design, which increases efficiency and eliminates bottlenecks. FOSE judges praised the switch's 1U height and its available 10 Gigabit bandwidth.
Other winners are:Comet12, Tadpole Computer Inc., Cupertino, Calif.
The Comet12 is what Tadpole officials call an ultra-thin client device. Comet12 looks like a notebook computer, but it has no operating system, memory or local storage. It must be connected to a network to function.
Gaining access to a network with a Comet12 is accomplished with a smart card, username and password, biometric devices or combination of the three.
"The nice thing about the Comet environment is that all the work is back on the server at all times," said Bob Melissinos, vice president of government sales for Tadpole. "You don't worry about the battery running out, because if it does, you haven't lost anything. You can even pull your smart card out of the drained machine, plug it in another machine and keep going."
Having almost no local memory also is a security advantage, because if the Comet12 is lost or stolen, there will be no data on it.
The requirement to be attached to a network also reduces administrative costs, Melissinos said. Keeping applications up to date, applying patches and ensuring all users are running the same operating systems is simplified when all that work is done on the network level, he said.
Any application running on almost any operating system can be accessed with a Comet12, Melissinos said.Kodak i660 Scanner, Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.
Representing the evolution of paper-handling technology, the i660 Scanner from Kodak can handle a stack of mixed-sized documents ranging from 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches to 12 inches by 26 inches.
"Because of the versatility in the feeder and the transport, the scanner can take from onion-skin paper up to card stock, all intermixed with each other," said Roger Markham, marketing manger for production scanners.
The unit can scan 120 pages per minute and is rated for 60,000 pages per day.
The scanner weighs 85 pounds and, unlike the freestanding 800 series scanners from which it borrows some technology, the i660 is a desktop scanner. The smaller size adds versatility, Markham said.
"A lot of county government scanning operations are using the i660 because, from an operator perspective, it is very easy to use to access the paper transport," he said.
The i660 has five output options: color, bi-tonal, grayscale, simultaneous bi-tonal and grayscale, or simultaneous bi-tonal and color.
Those output options are useful in government applications in which black and white images are needed to archive documents, and color images are needed for Web applications, Markham said. VoteFiler, Comfidex Corp., New York
Based around paper ballots and off-the-shelf hardware, the developers of VoteFiler said they have come up with technology that addresses the biggest concerns of election officials.
It has the benefits of electronic voting married with the security and verifiability of a paper trail, said Comfidex officials.
The system also relies on off-the-shelf hardware, which reduces the cost of installing it, company officials said. With approximately 185,000 voting precincts in the United States, cost becomes an important factor.
Using VoteFiler, a voter visits a Web site and anonymously creates a ballot before
going to the polling station. The ballot is printed out. On Election Day, the ballot, folded in a special envelope so only the barcode is visible, is brought to the polling station to be scanned. An election official keeps the ballot in a locked box in case a recount is required.
Staff Writer Doug Beizer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.