What would it take to make airport screening a nonintrusive, expedited process – a process that doesn’t require passengers to slow down, take off their shoes or belts or open computer cases? What technologies or processes are needed to allow airport security the ability to scan passengers as they walk down a hall at normal speed? How fast can screening at speed become a reality? Is the technology available today? How about five or 10 years from now?
S&T not only wants to know the answers to these questions, we want to take the next steps toward implementing the solutions. That’s the goal of our new Apex programs: to look strategically at the nation’s security and address future challenges while continuing to support today’s operational needs.
Working with DHS component partners, S&T has developed several Apex programs that will result in a more secure future for our nation.
The following Apex programs are currently underway:
The Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-engineering (AEER) program, developed in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seeks ways to increase CBP’s capacity to screen travelers entering the United States and to confirm the departure of non-U.S. citizens from U.S. airports. AEER determines how to use new technologies and processes to expedite screening by evaluating current commercial biometric technologies to support air entry and emerging exit applications.
The Apex Border Situational Awareness (BSA) program will enable the Homeland Security Enterprise to achieve increased border situational awareness, leading to increased border incursion detection, interdictions, and deterrence. CBP and partner law enforcement agencies (federal, state, local, tribal, international) need improved situational awareness to more effectively and efficiently deploy resources to the areas of highest risk, especially along the land border between the ports of entry on the U.S. southwest border. The goal of the Apex BSA program is to improve border situational awareness by establishing an enterprise capability to 1) access more data sources, 2) make available decision support tools to translate the available data into actionable information and intelligence, and 3) share that actionable information and intelligence with partner law enforcement agencies.
The Apex Real-Time Biothreat Awareness program aims to provide timely information to multiple authorities, enabling a collaborative, confident, and effective response that ultimately minimizes the impacts of a biological incident. DHS envisions a biosurveillance system that integrates and analyzes data from multiple sources and provides real-time, actionable information. Through this program, S&T will help authorities better prepare for incidents in which biological material is released. Authorities will be able to quickly gain situational awareness about the potential biological threat, the exposed population and the likelihood of infection to provide responders and decision makers with the data needed to make informed, confident decisions that will saves lives and money and restore normal operations quickly.
The Flood Apex program will create a decision support system of systems for community risk assessment and resilience planning to save lives, reduce property loss, and enhance resilience to disruptive events such as floods. With support from S&T, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be able to 1) leverage existing data sources to create multi-dimensional representations of community functions using an integrated, system-of-systems approach; 2) enhance collaboration around disaster risk reduction; 3) identify indicators of community resilience and opportunities to introduce advanced technologies; 4) empower communities with a decision support tool to enable both pre-event, scenario-based risk planning and adaptive recovery in the post-event environment; and 5) enable faster decision-making. The RAPID Apex will culminate in development of the National Flood Decision Support Tool, which will be transitioned to FEMA to assist federal, state, local, tribal and territorial users in making investment decisions related to flood hazards.
The Apex Next Generation Cyber Infrastructure program addresses the challenges facing our nation’s critical infrastructure sectors, enabling infrastructure to operate effectively, even in the face of sophisticated, targeted cyberattacks. The program seeks to provide technologies and tools to protect critical systems and networks. This includes the ability to 1) detect the presence of a cyberthreat without relying on a known cybersignature, 2) understand how the threat impacts operations, and 3) neutralize the threat in a manner that does not impact operations. This project will initially work in partnership with the financial sector but will be expanded later.
The Screening at Speed program seeks to create an almost-invisible checkpoint by integrating imaging, trace detection, X-ray technologies, and software systems. S&T is working with the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Energy national laboratories, universities, and industry on this program. The goal is to reduce invasiveness and inconvenience to passengers while increasing capability to respond to evolving threats.
The Apex Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) program seeks to develop a scalable and modular ensemble that includes an enhanced duty uniform, personal protective equipment, wearable computing and sensing technology, and robust voice and data communication networks. To do so, NGFR will harness the best existing and emerging technologies and integrate them in a well-defined and standards-based open architecture. By providing core capabilities suitable for all jurisdictions and disciplines, as well as specialized technology more appropriate for metropolitan areas, NGFR’s cutting-edge technologies will accelerate decision-making and improve response. With enhanced protection, communication and situational awareness, first responders can better safeguard lives and property before, during, and after incidents. Additionally, as part of the NGFR, S&T launched the Responder Technology Alliance, bringing together responders, industry, federal agencies, research institutions, academia and other stakeholders to focus on the most difficult technology challenges along the road to identifying the “Responder of the Future.”