Around the world, the pandemic has upended our lives and forced us to adapt to a “new normal.” This reality has left us no choice but to re-think and reimagine our future. Moving away from the crisis will not be easy; government and industry must find new ways to work together to co-create solutions that reduce risks and save lives. For the scientific research community this is our call to action, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is ready to meet the moment.
As the research and development (R&D) authority for DHS, S&T is following the science and working collectively with our partners to leverage new skills, capabilities and best practices. Public-private partnerships are the foundation of our R&D business model, because we know the security challenges of today are too big for one organization to address alone.
In 2021 and beyond, the science and research community will continue to face pressure to deliver answers that help get the country back on track. S&T is ramping-up investments in emerging tech and global partnerships to ensure the country is protected, secure and resilient. But we will not stop here, because this would be a failure of imagination on our part. To get to the other side of this pandemic and address fast-moving emerging threats, we must expand our R&D footprint and incentivize government and industry to bring new resources to scale.
We are doing this by leveraging technological advances, which allow us to do more in real-time. In collaboration with our whole-of-government partners, this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), S&T is hosting a series of virtual conversations, which give you an idea of how S&T is investing in new ideas and technologies to keep you safe.
Visit our virtual CES exhibit showcase to see how R&D is being applied at the edge of our operational environments to enhance public health security prediction and preparedness capabilities. Real-time data from sensors and devices is giving security operators in critical infrastructure and public safety new tools to make real-time decisions that increase detections and predictions of new security risks.
At our new Resource Hub page you can learn how S&T is partnering with DOE, EPA, and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority to assess the risk of COVID-19 aerosols in buses, subway trains and passenger rail cars. This collaborative R&D effort to safeguard public transit is vital to economic recovery, making it possible for the workforce to return to the office.
S&T is also working with R&D partners in Louisville, Kentucky, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish standards development teams to help communities nationwide detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater. This approach called Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) serves as an early warning system to provide real-time monitoring capabilities to predict the potential spread of COVID-19, giving state and local governments more tools to direct resources to target neighborhoods.
As part of our expanded R&D footprint, S&T recognizes how important travel is to our global economy and quality of life. S&T’s Biometric Research is evaluating how technologies can reliably verify the identities of travelers who are wearing face masks. This research is a great example of how we are innovating the growing demands for “speed and security” in operational settings. Investing in new capabilities for securely verifying peoples’ identities without requiring the removal of protective equipment, e.g., masks, will not only reduce the risk for both members of the public and frontline security personnel—it will also help our communities reopen and recover.
These are just a few of the examples of how S&T is turning research into action and working hard to get your lives back. Given our experiences over the past year, we understand how security is inherently connected to our economy, public health, and well-being. To move from crisis to opportunity, we seek to work with you to crowdsource new ideas, talents, and resources. To learn about our business and partnering opportunities, visit Work with S&T. Together, we will follow the science to keep the nation’s reopening and recovery safe and secure.