Linking the requirements of homeland security end users with the capabilities of the Homeland Security Industrial Base (HSIB) is at the very heart of S&T’s mission. Finding the right technologies to meet the right need is a fundamental element of building and strengthening our nation’s security and resilience.
S&T recently fostered this type of critical public-private engagement, when our First Responders Group's National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) hosted the first Urban Operational Experimentation (OpEx) in New York City, New York. Taking place over three days in locations throughout the City, the OpEx provided area first responders the opportunity to experiment with new and emerging technologies in realistic, urban scenarios. In these experiments, participants from the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department, New York City Office of Emergency Management, and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey examined several innovative technologies and provided those technologies’ developers with direct, real-time feedback on the technologies’ efficacy and applicability to their operations.
The experiments addressed technologies in several key areas, including social media analytics, chem/bio detection, situational awareness, countering improvised explosive devices, and wireless communications. Through these field experiments, NYC-area responders reviewed their own operational requirements and gathered valuable insights that can help guide future technology investments. The technology developers themselves also benefited from hearing the critical insights of experienced, frontline operators that they in turn can use to modify their products to better suit responders’ needs. Lastly, the Urban OpEx supported S&T’s own tech scouting efforts, as engagement with stakeholders and technology developers provided opportunities for S&T to learn more about both what to look for and what the marketplace looks like.
This event is a critical component of S&T’s larger effort to support and develop similar experimentation activities across the country. They include the recent Collaborative Innovative Experimentation conducted with several federal partners on the U.S. Southwest Border, as well as an upcoming S&T engagement with the Army’s Unique Mission Cell to examine a broad range of capabilities and technologies in collaboration with Salt Lake City/Provo, Utah homeland security and military entities. The OpEx hosted by NUSTL will therefore be the source of invaluable lessons learned to help S&T build and support more effective experimentation activities across the country, generating a wealth of operationally relevant end-user feedback.
I want to express my deepest thanks to the team at NUSTL who planned and executed this successful event after months of effort and through extensive outreach with the New York City response community as well as to the responders and responder agencies who participated. Through these OpEx events and similar initiatives, S&T is continuing to establish its role as a leader for technology coordination throughout the homeland security enterprise, meeting our stakeholders needs and overcoming challenges of the future.