With one eye on understanding future trends in innovation and the other on how technology can enhance security and save lives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Jan. 6-10, Las Vegas, NV. With hundreds of exhibitors and panel talks, hosted by the world’s leading thinkers and technology producers, CES provided our DHS colleagues from CBP, CISA, TSA, and S&T a timely platform to form new partnerships and identify future business opportunities. As technology continues to transform society and change our security landscape, driven by AI, autonomy, 5G, biometrics and sensors, DHS hosted several engagements with tech experts, media, and business leaders, highlighting where technology is needed to meet the growing demands on the Department.
CES allowed DHS to experience the technology marketplace in new and different ways, while also providing many opportunities to learn about how technology is disrupting different industries and business models. “Our federal, state and local customers need safe, reliable and secure tools to adapt to and respond to changing environments and emergencies, and to drive-down risk and provide flexibility for unintended consequences. We need visibility into new solutions and advances, which is why DHS participates in events like CES,” said Andre Hentz, Deputy Under Secretary (Acting), Science and Technology Directorate.
At our “One DHS” exhibit booth, DHS colleagues Mara Winn (TSA), Vinnie Annunziato (CBP), Eric Puype (CISA), and Randy Sandone, Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), among others, connected with industry and government officials on DHS technology needs and investment priorities. These conversations helped DHS identify new ideas and key partners we need to engage for scaling capabilities in the face of complex threats.
DHS also hosted four speaking engagements on topics that ranged from innovating aviation security to protecting privacy and security in an AI world. During a panel on “The Travel Experience of the Future,” TSA’s Mara Winn spoke with leaders from Marriott Hotels and MSC Cruise Lines about the importance (for DHS) to learn from other fields and markets. Knowledge exchanges, “enable the Department to meet innovators and identify new capabilities, which can help TSA enhance security and safely facilitate commerce and the flow of people and goods; important mission objectives,” said Mara Winn.
During a DHS panel on AI, S&T’s Andre Hentz and Melissa Oh, Managing Director, Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), spoke about the importance of testing data developing use cases, to ensure AI capabilities are trusted and secure before being deployed for homeland security purposes. Andre Hentz suggested “it is the role of government to create the conditions for public and private organizations to collaborate, but both government and industry have a responsibility to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.”
One of the other highlights at CES was the DHS Town Hall at CES Government. TSA Administrator David Pekoske kicked off the event and spoke about the importance of being open, collaborative and communicative about our strategic vision, priorities and commitment to identifying the most effective solutions. During the Q&A, Mr. Pekoske and S&T’s Andre Hentz reminded the standing-room audience that DHS was at CES to build public-private partnerships, hear new perspectives, and help DHS better understand timely and useful solutions. A few examples include automating routine tasks, enhancing screening and detection through IoT, and driving efficiencies through AI and data analytics. Knowing where advances in technology are going is important for aligning DHS strategic investments and priorities. For the Department to plug-into and align operational systems to new tech and digital infrastructure, CBP’s Chris Pietrzak, and CISA’s Rick Driggers spoke to the importance of innovative procurement and the need for potential performers to fully understand the problems DHS is focused on solving. By investing in people, process and technology, Pietrzak and Driggers also discussed how non-traditional solicitations, such as SVIP, are allowing the Department to become more agile in how we do business with industry, which is enabling DHS to better meet expanding demands on security operators.
By attending CES, DHS is changing the conversation on the role technology plays with enhancing security. Our “One DHS” participation sent a clear message to the global technology community that the Department is serious about working with them to improve the way we deliver solutions and accelerate the most effective capabilities for our diverse missions. As the research and development arm of DHS, S&T has to continuously build new coalitions to get the job done. Our CES conversation will continue throughout FY20. Our next stop to engage global innovators and tell our story will be at South by Southwest, March 2020. I look forward to keeping you informed and hope you can join us along the way.