Global Dispatches

An international news digest

German Railway Tests Biometric Technology

MUNICH -- German railway company Deutsche Bahn AG is testing so-called intelligent surveillance technology that it hopes can help stop any attempts by terrorists to smuggle bombs onto its trains, which carry 1.8 million passengers daily.

Jens Puls, director of corporate security at Berlin-based Deutsche Bahn, said at the Systems 2006 trade show here last week that the railway is “a couple of weeks” into a pilot project involving a facial-recognition system designed to detect known terrorists or other criminals and then alert security personnel.

As part of the pilot project, cameras have been set up to scan the train station in the city of Mainz in search of 200 people who have volunteered to have their pictures stored in a database. The testing will determine whether the biometric software can recognize their facial features, Puls said.

The Deutsche Bahn test follows failed attempts by terrorists to bomb two trains in July following the end of the World Cup soccer tournament, which was held in Germany.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Munich Mayor Touts Start of Shift to Linux

MUNICH -- After some delays, the city of Munich is pushing full speed ahead with its migration to Linux on the desktop, and Mayor Christine Strobl likes what she sees.

“I’m no technology freak, but even I must admit how easy it’s been to migrate to the new software,” Strobl said last week in a speech at the Systems 2006 event. “We’re very happy with the results so far.”

Munich’s municipal government began replacing Microsoft Corp.’s Windows and Office software with desktop Linux and the Open¿Office.org applications suite on about 14,000 PCs last month.

The project started about a year later than planned, but the city now expects a smooth rollout. Wilhelm Hoegner, Munich’s IT director, said that the migration should be completed by 2008 and that he thinks the cost of the project will come in below its budgeted cost of €35 million ($44 million U.S.).

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

SAP Plans NetWeaver Development Service

AMSTERDAM -- SAP AG will try to attract new software development blood via an online subscription service aimed at helping developers create applications using its NetWeaver integration technology.

SAP announced the subscription service at the European edition of its TechEd ’06 developers conference here two weeks ago, saying it plans to launch the service next year.

The offering will include development and composition tools and will be made available through the SAP Developer Network, a Web site that serves as a central resource for building NetWeaver applications. Rolf Schumann, director and chief technology officer in charge of NetWeaver solution sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, declined to disclose pricing plans for the subscription service.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

The European Commission has approved Hewlett-Packard Co.’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Mercury Interactive Corp., finding that the proposed deal wouldn’t impede competition in Europe. The EC had investigated whether the combination of HP’s and Mercury’s products would force competitors out of the performance management market.

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

Sierra Atlantic Inc. has acquired Iterion, a London-based firm that provides project management, business analysis and technology implementation consulting services for human resources and finance departments. Fremont, Calif.-based Sierra Atlantic said it expects the acquisition to strengthen its European outsourcing operations. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

BT Group PLC has bought Mountain View, Calif.-based Counterpane Internet Security Inc., which provides managed security services to about 550 companies. London-based BT said Counterpane will become a division in its global services group. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but a BT spokeswoman said it was in the “tens of millions of dollars.”

-- Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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