It has been a few weeks since we launched the National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology, and I’d like to share a few highlights with you. Participants have covered a lot of ground, providing insight into responder issues on topics such as underground communications, unmanned aerial and ground systems, smartphone usage in search and rescue operations, responder health monitoring and more.
The encouraging news is that there is no shortage of innovative thinking when it comes to the needs of our responders. With the technology available today, we can produce solutions that exponentially increase responder safety and performance. Success can be within our grasp if we are able to adapt and apply solutions to suit the unique requirements of public safety agencies.
When conceptualizing solutions for responders, we must consider not only the complexity of operational needs, but also aspects that affect an agency’s willingness and ability to invest time and resources in procuring and implementing new solutions. A few examples:
- Any newly introduced system needs to be capable of integrating and interacting with legacy systems that agencies and responders already use and heavily rely upon.
- Solutions must be streamlined to address only agency and responder needs, e.g., a smartwatch that embodies all of the functions useful to the general public might encumber and distract a responder during an emergency (not to mention additional training challenges).
- To ensure that operations are consistent and efficient, systems must be reliable and sustainable. With lives hanging in the balance, any new system must be thoroughly tested and proven. These solutions must also be available and supported on a long-term basis.
I challenge all of us to look beyond technology when we think of “innovation.” Our mission requires that we think creatively about interoperability, testing, training, and business models. We want to hear from you about how best to tailor solutions, put them into the hands of responders, and ensure that they are put to optimal use. Additionally, how can S&T help? Tell us responders, innovators, and other stakeholders by joining the National Conversation on Homeland Science and Technology.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology