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Homeland Security, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Question #1

  1. Compare, contrast the impact of foreign policies and relations on the followings in the past, present and future:
  2. Energy policies
  3. Energy technology advancements
  4. Energy prices and overall economy
  5. Think in terms of stable, unstable and sustainable, i.e.….
  6. Have the political relations brought stability (as applied to energy)?
  7. Have the political relations created instability (as applied to energy)?
  8. Have the political relations promoted sustainable energy and economy?

Section 1 A (a) Energy Policies

Foreign Policy and relations has always had a direct impact on energy policies, regardless of the era. The policies and practices of a country depend largely on whether is a net importer, net exporter, or are totally dependent on fossil fuels to meet its energy demands

The United States, as a matter of policy, regardless of which party is in power has always try to maintain good relations with OPEC organizations which fixes production quotas for its members and determines the price per barrel of crude oil, so that it can adequately access its energy needs, without using its reserves.

The Arab Oil embargo of the 1973 and 1979 has however affected the energy policy of the country, in that has turned to develop alternate forms of energy like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass,  to help offset its dependence on imported fuel oil.

Further energy policy changes also took place after the Iran hostage crisis and the revolution that overtook the country. The US cease buying oil from Iran after cutting diplomatic  relations, but strengthen the same with Saudi Arabia, so that it could have leverage with OPEC in terms of the production quota and the resulting price on crude on the world market

US energy policy is also affected by its foreign relations with Israel which is an enemy of the Arab oil producing nations, some of whom hold influential positions within OPEC, and will seek to oppose oil production decisions that favor the country.

According to Randall (2005), The US foreign policy has been to exert influence on the entire Middle East, but this strategy has had to change going forward due to the emergence of China, India and Brazil as nations with great bargaining power that can reduce the impact the country had in the past, especially as one of the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels.

1(b) Energy Technology Advancements

Margolis (2011), report shows how the effect of foreign policy has impacted on the security and energy policy of the United States. The Department of Energy, Margolis (2011), infer has establish The Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership, which is a new federal state funding information sharing project that aims to accelerate  the deployment of energy storage technologies within the country.

The government has realized it seems that despite its attempt to manage the OPEC leadership body, it must change its energy policy to ensure its protection. The energy storage policy as well as other approaches has the potential to provide significant support to the integration of renewable \energy in the country, and as such the government has begun seeking public funding and cooperation to accelerate the program, reduce cost, as well as deploy the technology in as much state as possible (Margolis, 2011).

This has been a far cry from the energy policies that had prevailed prior to the oil embargo.

1 A(c) Energy prices and the overall economy

It seems, according to Williams and Alhajji (2003)that the impact of United States foreign policy and relations on energy prices and the economy has not changed, despite the severity of past experiences. This conclusion was arrived at as a result of the presence of various issue of energy security that is similar to what obtains prior to the energy crisis of 1973 and 1979.

The issues are, the United States dependent on foreign petroleum imports has grown steadily for the past decades, petroleum inventories are dangerously low, and the ability of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves and Commercial Petroleum Stocks to cope with any interruptions in imports matches historic lows that existed prior to the oil embargo periods (Williams, Alhajji, 2003).

The effects that accrue in the past will therefore be repeated in the present due to lack of adequate and timely policy changes and strategies by the leadership of the country as well as the associated industries.

1 B (a) Have the political relations brought stability (as applied to energy)?

Political relations have brought some measure of stability to energy prices, although the Middle East Region have the highest production capacity still remain as volatile as ever. The United States and its allies has been engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while at the same time are striving to develop and maintain excellent relationship with chief producers in the area of the world.

OPEC has worked to ensure that the price of oil remains stable for the present on the global market, and it seems some political decisions has contributed to this achievement.

1 B (b). Have the political relations created instability (as applied to energy)?

Instability, as a result of the United States stance historically on the side of Israel has been a factor that has come up for discussion at many international forums , and has threaten the sustainability of the both country economies, as well as the future of energy relations of the US in the Middle East region.

Despite the instability created, it seems that when economic crisis reduce demands and drive down the price of crude oil, OPEC has always find a way to use its influence to politically change the landscape. This is because, according to the IMF a $1 drop in the price of crude oil can lead to an annual loss of $350b in the Saudi Arabia economy at the highest level, or $1bn in the United Arab Emirates at the lower end of the scale. (Raphaella, 2008)

The Arab leaders therefore are cognizant that the instability brought about by political relations has a double sword effect, and will take actions to reduce the economic impact of such actions in the region.

1B.Have the political relations promoted sustainable energy and economy?

Catherine Mitchell (2007) argues in her book The Political Economy of Sustainable Energy that only when the complexity of the energy system is recognized and energy policies are implemented as a result of broader analysis of economic, technological, institutional, and social factors, will there be any chance of a successful shift toward sustainable energy in the economy.

Political relations can therefore create sustainability as was the case with the United States in 2009 when the democrats had a majority in both houses, and were able to make decisions that enhances the drive to develop alternate energy sources and reduce the dependence on oil. However when the scenario change and the new majority by its actions are failing to recognized the complexity Mitchell postulate, then sustainability will not be attainable.

Question 2

Section A

Pick two specific energy assets such as a specific power plant, natural gas processing plant, oil tanker, oil production platform, transmission system etc. Provide the exact name, location, address (if applicable) and owner information of the two assets that you select.

The two energy assets chosen for this project are NRG Energy Incorporated of 211 Carnage Center, Princeton, New Jersey and Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated of 400 Blair Road, Avenel, New Jersey.

The former company is owned by the Washington Redskins, and is a fortune250 wholesale power generation entity that is involved in diverse generation portfolios that includes nuclear, solar, and wind sources, as it constantly delivers 21,000 megawatt of electricity to approximately 21 million homes (www.nregenergy.com/about/index.html ).

NRG Energy is led by its President and Chief Executive Officer David Crane, who confidently stated that the company has worked hard to deliver reliably and safely to the homes of its consumers

Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated

Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated, an interstate common carrier of gasoline, kerosene, home heating oil, diesel fuels, and national defense fuels to shipping terminals in 12 states and Washington DC. is headed by President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Felt (www.colpipe.org).

Question 2 section B

Although NRG Energy Incorporated has been a recipient of the industry highest honor, namely the Platt Industry Leadership and Energy Company of the year award, there are critical security gaps in its infrastructures. This was hinted at by its Chief Executive Officer, who stated that the company is creating value by expanding its portfolio of renewable energy assets from wind, biomass, solar, and nuclear power, and is retrofitting its existing fossil fuel plants to operate more cleanly and efficiently (www.nrgenergy.com/about/details

NRG is therefore presently emitting Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing the increase in green house gases, due to the incompletion of its retrofitting process, and is a possible candidate for Nuclear Proliferation attacks by terrorist because of its use nuclear energy as one of its sources of electricity generation, and the fact that according to Ness (2008), it is impossible to protect at utility 100% from an attack whether by cyber or physical means due the infrastructural layout and the number of remote locations.

Potential Security Gaps at Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated

Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated, possible security gaps weaknesses lies where it has the greatest competitive advantages. The company delivers its diverse products through 5,500 miles of buried underground pipes with 3000 of that total being transported under right of way into the Southern and Eastern sections of the United States (www.colpipe.org/ ).

The possible security gaps are the possible puncture resistance, frequency of inspections and welding and construction standards of the pipes being used to deliver millions of gallons of supplies. This is a possibility because according to McGovern (2011), a similar company Keystone XL has been allowed to function despite several breaches of the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) operating guidelines, due to lack of enforcement by the regulating body.

The company operation with submerged pipelines under water may pose serious threats to existing marine life, should there be spillage of any of its products.

Question 2

Section B

Specific Hardening Initiatives at NRG Energy Incorporated that could be considered by the public sector or any other appropriate organization

The carbon dioxide being emitted by NRG Energy Inc, could be a project for the Department of Energy to introduce the Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage technology (CCS), which would served to reduce the volume of the gas escaping into the atmosphere, and improve the air quality index and the general health of the population in the vicinity of the plant (Suebsrisi and Wilson (2011).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could also seek to monitor and tighten the inputs, uses and outputs of radioactive substances at NRG Energy nuclear plant, as well as make more frequent onsite visits regarding its critical and cyber sensitive assets, due to the location of the plant near large masses of the population, and the possibility of terrorist threats from those who seek to perpetuate Nuclear Proliferation on US soil (FEMA,2011).

Specific Hardening Initiatives at Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated that could be considered by the public sector or any other appropriate organization

The Department of Transportation in an effort to reduce thepossible security threat at Colonial Pipeline company by mandating that company in the best interest of the public safety and the company future viability and profitability, to over an agreed timeline, bury its 5500 miles pipeline6-12 inches deeper than the regulated standard, make pipeline puncture resistant higher, increase the number shutdown valves and report all spillages and construction plans to PHMSA (McGovern, 2011).

These initiatives would reduce the threat of weakening pipeline structures as well as preventing the spillage of fuels into the ocean and significantly damaging the marine life in the environs of the pipelines.

Question 2

Section C

Concrete Steps that NRC Energy could take to reduce Security Weakness

NRC Energy could hasten its retrofitting process as well as install implement technology that incorporate smart grid that would more effectively measure the volume of carbon dioxide and radioactive particles. The company can also subject its employees to training that will improve their security awareness regarding possible breaches to all nuclear operating facilities, as well as more carefully scrutinize new recruits before deployment to areas nuclear proliferation might be possible.

Environmentally NRC Energy Incorporated could engage the services of a private company to annually monitor the operational performance of its utilities in terms of their impacts on the environment, and use the information to ensure corrective actions are taken proactively, to ensure its excellent corporate image is maintained, and the loss of customers are minimized.

Concrete steps Colonial Pipeline could take to reduce its potential security weaknesses

Colonial Pipeline Company could protect its assets more effectively by employing its own security and technical personnel to patrol the right of ways at least 26 times per year, to look for excavation activities, ground movements, sabotage activities, unstable soils, washouts, leakages or any other conditions that threaten the safety of its operations.

Additionally, in the process of analyzing its pipeline it could gradually replaced those that are over certain years old and replaced them with new a type that exceeds all the current operating specifications, and ensure they are buried according to the recommendations of PHMSA.

Question 3

Case (1). Russia stops natural gas flow to Ukraine. This creates stir not only in Ukraine but in entire Europe.

The decision by Russia to stop the flow of natural gas to the Ukraine in 2009 as a result of the rejection by the purchaser of the demand for higher prices, the economy of not only the Ukraine was threatened but several European countries as well, because 85 % of all these countries uses the Ukraine pipeline to access supplies.

The incident was a repeat of what transpired in 2006 when shortages were felt as far as Italy and Spain, according to Kramer (2009).

The reliability of supplies to the Ukraine economy was severely threatened, but fortunately for the citizens and businesses in this country, the government immediately announced that it had one year’s supply in storage to offset the immediate threat (Kramer, 2009).

Reserves that had been built up by the government, ensured continuity in economic and domestic life, indicated that there was a measure adequacy in the security and holding capacity in the country. However at the end of the period there will be a security in demand problem that has to be solved, and unless the Ukraine Government fins alternate sources, or reverses it previous decision, the country will face a serious crisis that may even lead to death of thousands in the population due to lack of heat.

Case 2. Major earthquake in Japan damages significant portion of the nuclear power plant generating capacity in Japan.

The impact of the earthquake in Japan on its nuclear generating capacity will lead to an increase in demand for natural gas on the world market, to replace the demand previously met by the now out of commission plant.

Japan, according to Scherer (2011), was already a significant importer of natural gas, and with the \advent of the disaster it can simply increase it order levels to ensure security of demand and reliability of supplies in the future.

However, it may have to engage the services of its security organization to protect the additional storage facilities that may be required as well as technical personnel, from environmentalist threats and possible terrorism that could result as it changes its methodology in delivering energy to the affected areas of the country.

There should also be no threat to the reliability of supplies from both the financial and market fluctuation perspectives, as Japan has the financial resources to cover the increase in demands, and this increase would have modest only effect on the market equilibrium according to Scherer (2011).

Futuristically however, the natural gas market may change due to the possibility that the effects of the disaster have caused Germany to go close all its nuclear plants within the next 10 years. Many other countries may adopt this policy, and cause exponential increase in demands for the product as well as in the price levels.

Case 3. Major hurricane in Gulf of Mexico damages over 50% of our oil and gas production infrastructure.

A major earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the damage of 50 % of the US oil and natural gas production facilities would be catastrophic for business and domestic lives on the Eastern Seaboard and in other areas for an extended period.

Practically every phase of normal life would be adversely affected, with electricity, water supplies, food distribution and delivery of medical and other life saving supplies would drastically reduced.

Security of supplies would become uncertain, and it would be difficult for any organization to engage in significant forward planning, while the government through FEMA would have to bring in army personnel to secure energy installation sites that are undergoing re-construction, as well as personnel working to restore reliability in demands

Recommendations

The Ukraine may be able to overcome its dilemma with the Russian government and reduce its security concerns by further increasing its storage capacity by a further 50 %

, as well as making the sacrifice to divert some of its earnings form precious metals, steel and other products to develop alternate energy capabilities.

Additionally it could also subject a levy on all European countries that are using its pipeline to access to natural gas, and use the proceeds to meet the immediate payments requested by Russia, and finance its storage expansion projects.

The Japanese government should join the German government and move away from using nuclear energy as a source of electricity, and realign its resources to produce alternate energy at a higher level.

Finally, the American government should move away from supplying electricity by way of above ground infrastructures to below ground. This would drastically the impact of future disasters on the Eastern Seaboard, and ensure shorter return to reliability in supply status in the affected states.

Above ground installations that are not deemed economically feasible for relocations, should be equipped with smart grids at strategic points on their transmission lines, to ensure all messages affecting the security of supplies are received and can acted upon in a timely manner to ensure there are little or no disruptions in supplies.

Question 4

Section A

Why breach of the electricity infrastructure is such a critical issue?

The Electricity Infrastructure is vital to the supply of electricity to millions of people in several regions that depends on it for business, temperature regulation, life maintenance, and several other purposes, and operates like a Swiss Watch in principle, whereby a defect or security breach in one area may cripple and entire region.

According to Ness (2008), a breach in one area like an oil refinery for example or a power station may damage the delivery system or knock out computers that are vital to load management at periodic times.

Attacks on infrastructures, especially those which are remotely located and are lacking the smart grid technology, can have devastating effects on the nation, the economy, and on citizens. In cases where there are extremes in temperatures, thousands of people may even die, millions of dollars of refrigerated food may get spoiled, and thousands of industries may suffer losses that can threaten their continued profitability.

The breach is a critical issue also because at the time when manyof these electrical infrastructures were built, there were no provisions for possible attacks by terrorist through cyberspaceor by actual physical attacks on the facilities, which may be located in remote areas, and not all plants are presently up to speed in terms of security readiness for these attacks.

The criticality of the issue is even more important, from the point of view that that hackers may not be easily detected and could illegally access areas of critical national security, and view information, steal secrets or destroy data that may be irreplaceable, and therefore jeopardize the entire nation security. Additionally, these hackers and terrorists may be from hostile nations like North Korea, Iran, or even China to a lesser extent, and the possibility of prosecuting them for criminal offences may be well nigh impossible.

In some infrastructures, if operating parts are damaged or key personnel are injured or killed , it make take extended period to change to effect the necessary changes, and this could lead to significant losses in revenue as well as  physical and economic sufferings among the members of the population.

A typical example would an attack by cyberspies that involve the use of electromagnet pulse, which can damage computers and other equipment and cause tremendous chaos at

all levels of society, from the highest office down to the ordinary citizens.

Section B

What has NERC (who sets standards and enforces electric grid reliability and security) recently done and planning to do in the next 12 months with respect to checking and improving the cyber security of our electricity grid? Be very specific.

The critical importance of electricity to the US National Security and the economy has causes NERC to impose its Critical Infrastructure (ICP) standards to protect all utilities against cyber attacks, according to Travers (2008). NERC showed its intention and the level of cooperation it expected by first imposing fines that ranges from $1000 to $1 million per day on companies that failed to comply.

According to Travers (2008), the standard required utilities to identify critical assets and critical cyber assets, and develop policies and procedures to protect them. Owners, department heads, technical personnel and other key executives under the mandates of the standard had to know inside out all the details of their company operations , in order to mitigate against attacks from cyber terrorists that may come through e-mails or even via employees within the organization., according to Travers (2008).

All utilities NERC stipulate were required to develop multi layered security systems for all critical cyber assets and then conduct cyber and physical test Pre and Post NERC actions to determine the presence or absence of vulnerabilities and how to address them, according to Travers (2008).

Smaller utilities were not excluded from the program, in that in order to ensure compliance, NERC ordered may in specific cases order them to acquire and implement certain types of equipment that will ensure the entire infrastructure is shielded from cyber attacks.

Finally, NERC gave instructions that required all utilities to become Auditable Compliant by December 2009. This meant that they are to ensure that they have accumulated at least one year worth of operational data, documents, documentation, log and records that can be audited and used to evaluate their awareness, competence and security proof against cyber attacks (Travers, 2008).

Section 4 C

Question: In your opinion, will “smart grids” create new touch points of possible disruption or repel the chance of cyber attacks? Why and how?

Smart Grids should be considered new touch points for possible repulsion of cyber attacks, because of the attributes of the technology, the fact that they are connected to the overall systems, and is responsive to messages even from remote locations.

The principle behind the technology is that it was designed to bring the utility electricity delivery system into the 21st Century using computer based  remote control and automation, according to the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (2011).

There is a two way communication system embedded in the device, and this works in tandem with sensors, in the gathering of data relating to power meters, voltage sensors, fault detectors, and other impediments that can disrupt the continuous flow of electricity through the designed infrastructures dispersed across several locations, but vitally interconnected, to ensure all demand levels are safely met (Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, 2011).

The information received from any location can be interpreted and generated corrective actions that can negate the effects of all threats even from cyber attacks, and ensure the supply of electricity is not disrupted. Prior to the advent of smart grid, utility companies experiencing attacks of this nature, as well as other breaches on their transmission lines, may take several hours or days to remedy the faults or threats from remote locations in particular, because they would have to physically send engineers and technicians to these points to carry out test to determine  the reasons behind the occurrences.

Delays of these types would result in the losses of millions of dollars, both to the consumer and the utility suppliers, in addition to a great deal of inconvenience on the part of those residents who are totally dependent on the electricity.

Smart Grid however, would repelled the cyber attacks as well as identify the source as well as other faults, and ensure the infrastructure remains protected while delivering electricity to diverse residential and commercial locations.

Question 4 D

What are some of the actions undertaken by the Obama administration in order to improve the cyber security of our electric infrastructures?

The Obama Administration on taking Office under took several initiatives to improve Cyber Security as it relates to the protection of the United States electricity infrastructures, after having analyzed and retained much the contents of what the George W. Bush Government had developed and implemented after September 9, 2001 terrorist attacks on the country.

The President and his team of advisors ordered a review of the Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism structures within the White House in February 2009, followed by a review of the federal government’s policies and activities on Cyber Security in May of 2009 (Motef, 2011).

Review of the Cyber Security included the appointment of White House Officials to coordinate Cyber Security policies and activities across all levels of the federal government, so that the President can be constantly informed of the security of all aspects of the nation’s electrical infrastructures (Motef, 2011).

Two years later, the Obama Administration deliberated and then released a proposed legislation to strengthen Cyber Security throughout the nation’s electricity infrastructures.

This entailed establishing a regulatory framework to enhance Cyber Security at electrical infrastructures that the Homeland Security consider critical to the nation’s national security interests (Motef, 2011).

The Obama administration further mandated that owners and operators of these designated utility infrastructural assets, developed Cyber Security plans individually, and have them evaluated by credible and nationally recognized external evaluators, before submitting the final drafts to the Securities and Exchange Commission (Motef, 2011).

Reference

Ness L. (2008). Terrorism and Public Infrastructure Protection Journal of Energy Security (2011) www.enses.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&d154:terrorismandpublicutiolity-infrastructure , 09/24/11

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), (2011). Nuclear Power Plant Emergencywww.fema.gov/about/divisions/thd_repp.shtm , 09/24/11

International Energy Agency, (2006). Ukraine:  Energy Policy Review 2006 www.iea.org/publications/free_new_Desc.asp?Pubs_ID=1819 , 09/30/11

Kramer, A., (2009). Russia Cuts Off  Gas Deliveries to Ukraine New York Timeswww.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/world/europe/02/gazprom.html , 09/30/11

NRG Energy Incorporated (2011) About NRG Energywww.nrgenergy.com/about/index.htm/ 09/23/11

Travers, M.G., (2008).Cyber Security : NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards takes center stage www.tdworld.com/distribution_management_systems/cyber_security_utilities_1108/index.html 09/24/11, 09/24/11

Mitchell, C. (2007). The Political Economy of Sustainable Energy Mac Millian Publishers, Hampshire, England

McGowan, E., (2011). Possible Breach of the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration List of Safety and Operating Guidelines Inside Climate News www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/19/idus177842492720110919 ,

09/24/11

Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated (2011). About Colonial Pipeline Company Incorporated www.colpipe.org/about, 09/24/11

Margolis, A., (2011). Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnershipswww.cleanenergy.org/projects/energy-storage-technology-advancement-partnerships , 09/30/11

Motef, J.D., (2011). Critical Infrastructure Background, Policy, and Implementation Congressional Research Service  www.fas.org/sgp, 09/24/11

Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (2011). Smart Gridwww.energy.gov.oe/tecdhnology-development/smart-grid , 09/24/11

Suebsrisi, J., Wilson, M. (2011). A model of Carbon Capture and Storage with demonstration of global warming potential and fossil fuel resource use efficiency  14th International Conference  on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies

Energy Procedure, Vol.4 pp. 2465-2469

Randall, S., (2005). US Foreign Oil Policy Since World War 1– For Profit and Security 2nd edition  Mac Millian-Queens University Press www.oxfordjurnals.org/content/1/113/full , 09/30/11

Raphaella, N. (2008). Oil producing countries in Middle East face plummeting oil prices. Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Retrieved from: www.blog.nus.edu.sg/middleeast  on 10/09/2011

Scherer, R., (2011). National Gas Prices Heading Up If Post Disaster Japan Imports More? The Christian Science Monitor www.csmonitor.com , 09/30/11

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