Government Technology

GT Spectrum


August 31, 2005 By ,

Tricking Cancer Cells

University of Michigan scientists created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful drug inside tumor cells.

The scientists use a man-made molecule called a dendrimer, which is small enough to slip through tiny openings in cell membranes. Dendrimers have a treelike structure with many branches where a variety of other molecules, including cancer-fighting drugs, can be attached.

Scientists attached a powerful anti-cancer drug to some of the dendrimer's branches, and fluorescent imaging agents and folic acid to other branches. By taking advantage of cancer cells' appetite for folate, a B vitamin, researchers used the folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, as a "treat" to sneak the cancer drug past the cancer cells' membranes. -- University of Michigan

Critical Targets

Parts of the UK's Critical National Infrastructure were targeted by an ongoing series of e-mail-borne electronic attacks during late spring. Though the majority of observed attacks have been against the central government, other UK organizations, companies and individuals also appear to be at risk.

The attackers seem to be covertly gathering and transmitting of commercially or economically valuable information through Trojan programs delivered either in e-mail attachments or through links to a malicious Web site. The e-mails employ social engineering, including a spoofed sender address and information relevant to recipients' jobs or interests, to entice victims to open the documents.

Once installed on a machine, Trojans may be used to obtain passwords, scan networks, steal information and launch further attacks. -- National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre

Park-and-Pay

In Coral Gables, Fla., drivers can now use cell phones to pay for parking in all on-street and off-street locations operated by the city. This may be the first of such systems in the United States.

Drivers opting to use the new pay-by-cellular-phone program must first activate an account by registering a credit card number, license plate number, cellular phone number and e-mail information. A confidential password is provided to each user.

When a car is parked on the street or in a lot that offers the wireless payment option, customers call the posted telephone number on the meter from a mobile phone to log in and start the parking session. When customers leave the parking spot, the number must again be called to log out and end the parking session.

Customers choose between two parking payment packages -- 25 cents per parking transaction or $7 a month for unlimited parking transactions. This is in addition to the usual applicable parking fees, which are automatically charged to the user's credit card. -- Coral Gables, Fla.

Giving Up GIS

Governments must release GIS-enabled maps in electronic form to those requesting them under open records laws in Connecticut, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in mid-June.

Greenwich, Conn., citizen Stephen Whitaker requested electronic access to the city's GIS maps in December 2001 under the state's open records law. Officials refused to give Whitaker access to the city's GIS system, arguing the records qualified for public safety and trade secret exemptions to the state's public records law.

Whitaker sued, and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission ruled in his favor in 2002. In 2004, the Connecticut Superior Court agreed. Greenwich appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court, but the Supreme Court stepped in and transferred the case onto its own docket before the intermediate appellate court could rule. -- The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Smart Suburb

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named Mitaka, Japan, the 2005 Intelligent Community of the Year. The Tokyo suburb has a population of 173,000, and was cited by the ICF for having developed a social and


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