Let me start this, my last blog, by saying I can’t believe this is my last blog. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited S&T, in part to say farewell but also to thank S&T’s dedicated workforce for our support during his tenure. He said something that really resonated with me: he said the R&D, technology solutions and capabilities we’ve developed over the last three years have brought real value to the Department and Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE).
That spurred me to reflect on the advanced research and development (R&D) solutions S&T has brought to the front lines of security in our nation since I joined the team.
We started out by setting the stage for the future with our Visionary Goals. We brought stakeholders—industry, academia, responders, government organizations and the American public – together by crowdsourcing the future of homeland security R&D. Our goal was two-fold: to focus our R&D portfolio and to ensure we were prepared to address emerging threats.
And these goals put us on the right path. We set out to make responders protected, connected and fully aware, and technology like the ERAD prepaid card reader, FINDER, and POINTER are making that happen. We are leveraging data to enable decision makers with greater situational awareness. To ensure communities are resilient nationwide, we are researching how sensors can support the HSE through the Internet of Things. We know the security of our cyber networks is tantamount, so we are always searching for emerging technology through our Transition to Practice program. And we’re looking at better ways to screen at speed at our airports, using biometrics and improved screening and security technology.
We’ve embraced Secretary Johnson’s Unity of Effort initiative as well as the need to be transparent in what we do. Our Integrated Product Teams (IPT) are bringing together representatives across the Department to ensure coordinated R&D as we focus on addressing DHS mission needs. We’ve formed working groups to address “pop-up” issues including unmanned aerial systems, social media and others.
We pursued opportunities to cultivate relationships with technology innovators, particularly non-traditional performers, from small start-ups to large companies, investors, incubators, and accelerators. We didn’t just talk about it; we went out and did it. Today, our Homeland Security Innovation Program crisscrosses the nation, developing relationships, foraging for technology, and funding solutions. We developed new funding mechanisms to make working with S&T easier, we’ve rolled out Prize Challenges, and we’re working with accelerators. We’ve explored every avenue to finding, developing, or funding HSE needs.
Over the last three years, we’ve done a lot of great work. Science and technology is integral in developing the tools the HSE needs to quickly address and overcome emerging threats; S&T is poised and ready to do that. Friday, January 20, is my last day at S&T and I leave knowing the foundation is there for a better R&D future.