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Blog Category: NIST

NIST Breaks Ground on New Green Technology and Fire Safety Facilities

Government and industry officials break ground at NIST headquarters

New facilities showcase best in green technology and fire-safety funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has begun construction on three new facilities at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus that will help to advance green technology and fire safety building practices with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The National Fire Research Laboratory, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, and structures supporting more than 2,500 new solar energy panels that will supply electricity to the NIST campus were unveiled at a ceremony with U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, and other industry and government officials.

The National Fire Research Laboratory will be expanded to include a National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory, a 21,400-square-foot space that will provide a unique capability for testing full-scale structural elements, subassemblies and systems under realistic fire conditions.

Resembling a typical suburban Maryland single-family home, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility will serve as a test bed for new home-scale energy technologies, showing that a residence can produce as much energy from renewable resources as it consumes over the course of a year.

NIST will also launch a new solar energy system as part of its commitment to implementing renewable energy sources. The Grid-Connected Photovoltaic System will feed directly into the existing electrical grid, generating more than 700 MWh of electricity annually – enough to power 67 homes – and offsetting a portion of NIST’s electrical power needs.

For more information on these state-of-the-art initiatives at the NIST campus, visit http://www.nist.gov/el/facilities-033011.cfm

Free NIST Software Tool Boosts Detection of Software Bugs

Alternate TextResearchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have released an updated version of a computer system testing tool that can cut software development costs by more efficiently finding flaws.

Catching software “bugs” is traditionally difficult and time-consuming. About 50 percent of software development budgets go to testing, yet flaws in software still cost the U.S. economy $59.5 billion annually. In efforts to address this issue, NIST designed the Advanced Combinatorial Testing System (ACTS), a freely available software tool.

Fewer software flaws mean enhanced security for personal, government and corporate systems. Hackers often take advantage of software flaws to introduce malware including viruses and botnets to disrupt or take control of computer systems. Once inside a computer, attackers can access personal information or valuable company data.

The NIST Combinatorial Testing for Software is based on research by NIST and others and generates a plan for testing combinations of two to six variables that can interact and cause errors. While studying software crashes of medical device and Web browsers, researchers determined that between 70 and 95 percent of software failures are triggered by only two variables interacting, and practically 100 percent of software failures are triggered by no more than six. In one project, NIST could test all six-way combinations with only 522 tests instead of 17 billion, and find nearly 100 percent of the flaws.

Since the first version was released in 2008, it has been downloaded by 465 times by industry, academia, government and individuals.

For more information, visit http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/acts/index.html.  

NIST Hosts Second Cloud Computing Workshop, Urges Greater Government Use of Cloud Computing

NIST Director Pat Gallagher at Podium

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) kicked off the second Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop today at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., providing a report on the agency’s efforts to collaboratively develop a Cloud Computing Roadmap among multiple federal and industrial stakeholders.  

NIST Director Patrick Gallagher and U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra opened the two-day workshop and told hundreds of industry and government attendees that they wanted the information technology community's help in developing a "roadmap for action" to increase government use of the cloud. Both stressed the need for open discussion and participation among all stakeholders in developing policies to address challenges like security requirements for cloud services. Cloud computing is not just a fad, Kundra said, but represents a fundamental shift in how chief information officers can provide cost-effective information technology services for their organizations.

NIST held the first Cloud Computing Workshop in May to initiate engagement with industry to accelerate the development of cloud standards for interoperability, portability and security; introduce NIST Cloud Computing efforts; and discuss the federal government's experience with cloud computing.

The Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop II continues through Friday. For more information, visit http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/cloudworkshopii.cfm.

NIST Study on Charleston Furniture Store Fire Calls for National Safety Improvements

NIST Official at Podium Discussing ReportA report released today by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the June 18, 2007 fire at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, S.C., calls for national safety improvements and provides 11 recommendations for enhancing building, occupant and firefighter safety. The Sofa Super Store fire trapped and killed nine firefighters, the highest number of firefighter fatalities in a single event since 9/11.

NIST experts traveled to Charleston to gather data within 36 hours of the Sofa Super Store fire. Along with building design documents, video and photographic images, and other records, the study team developed a computer model to simulate and analyze the characteristics of the fire. Based on their study, they were able to outline the major factors that contributed to the rapid spread of fire, which included large, open spaces with furniture providing high-fuel loads; the inward rush of air following the breaking of windows; and a lack of sprinklers.

Specific recommendations in the report call for national model building and fire codes to require sprinklers for all new commercial retail furniture stores regardless of size and for existing retail furniture stores with a display area larger than 2,000 square feet. Other recommendations include ensuring proper fire inspections and building plan examinations, and encouraging research for a better understanding of specific fire situations. Release