The National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology–an S&T stakeholder engagement initiative intended to foster exchange on homeland security solutions and research and development–recently wrapped up two dialogues: Enable the Decision Maker: Actionable Information at the Speed of Thought and Screening at Speed: Ensuring that Security Matches the Pace of Life. Both are part of a series of dialogues dedicated to the five S&T Visionary Goals. Participating stakeholders in both dialogues included an array of first responders, public sector officials, industry professionals, technologists, and private citizens. To me, the most compelling successes of both dialogues is a clearer understanding of which issues these stakeholder groups prioritize—the National Conversation provides S&T yet one more window through which we can view and consider recommendations to help shape our future activities.
The Enable the Decision Maker dialogue was designed to foster interaction regarding predictive analytics, risk analysis, modeling and simulation, and data credibility, privacy and security. The topic that generated the most participant engagement was data and predictive analytics, highlighting the importance of this topic to decision makers.
Participants mentioned challenges, provided recommended practices, shared resources, and discussed technical requirements of analytics as it applies to law enforcement, social media, fire services, and emergency management. The dialogue yielded the following recommendations for S&T, calling for efforts related to:
- Testing and evaluating predictive analytics capabilities as part of S&T pilots and exercises;
- Continuing to foster industry partnerships best positioned to design, test, and offer basic analytics capabilities; and
- Investing R&D efforts focused on technology that can scan information sent to decision makers for potential privacy concerns.
The Screening at Speed dialogue was designed to generate discussion around four key screening areas: aviation security, facilities protection, border and maritime security, and mass transit security. What I found interesting is that participants identified screening priorities that cut across all areas, but also discussed how each area presented unique screening challenges that warranted more specific, in-depth analysis. Participants recommended that S&T continue its efforts in:
- Partnering with other federal agencies to conduct R&D on joint screening at speed technologies;
- Developing a common framework for coordinating airport, border, and maritime owners and operators to integrate and upgrade screening systems; and
- Expanding research efforts on reconfigurable technology.
A few weeks ago, ahead of Thanksgiving holiday travel, we launched a new dialogue, Mass Transit Security: Protecting Our Railways and Subways. I encourage you to visit the S&T Collaboration Community today to participate in the Mass Transit Security dialogue and become a part of the conversation!
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology