Scientific thinking and innovation plays an important, yet not always visible, role in securing the nation. In fact, science is often quietly at work behind the scenes, providing solutions to protect our skies, borders and coastal areas from the major threats – both man-made and natural.
A newly released report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), “Results of Fiscal Year 2014 Research and Development,” provides a window into the breadth, scope and diversity of initiatives undertaken by S&T in pursuit of our mission to apply technological solutions to make the nation safer.
For this report, S&T focused on the tangible successes where we can demonstrate technology, technology improvements, or capabilities being delivered to those on the front line of homeland security. It is important to note that research and development has a long timeline that begins with the birth of an idea and culminates in the actual transition of a technology into the hands of the users. Indeed, some accomplishments in this report are the result of years of hard work and effort by S&T program managers. Our research and development efforts today are an investment in delivering new capabilities for the future.
Part of my job is championing this good work. This report, which cuts across critical threat areas, represents S&T’s best work in 2014.
One example is our Taurus Robot project, which allows public safety bomb technicians to perform sophisticated tasks with unprecedented speed and dexterity. As we do with many of our projects, we worked closely with the end users – public safety bomb squads and the FBI in this case – to develop a capability that imparts human-like coordination to existing bomb squad robots.
In another effort, one of our bioassay projects delivered a method for developing antibodies without providing access to hazardous viral proteins. This new proprietary method, which can be applied to many Biological Safety Level 3 and 4 agents, enables the federal government to make antibodies for rapid detection using bioinformatic data only, and thereby avoid dealing directly with biosafety hazards.
From developing technology such as the Virtual Shooter, a mechanical means to test firearms in a gun range, to our continuing efforts to improve the Integrated Terrorism Risk Assessment, S&T’s work directly impacts how DHS and first responders pursue their missions.
This technical report provides the public with a window into the S&T Directorate and the broad range of technological solutions we pursue to make the nation safer. I encourage you to review this document and then join the National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology, which gives everyone a voice in the discussion about how we can build upon these accomplishments.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology