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Embracing a New Normal for COVID-era R&D

Embracing a New Normal for COVID-era R&D

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), when we talk about reopening and recovery efforts, our research and development (R&D) investments must account for the economic, health and security needs of our country. We know we cannot fully recover from the pandemic until our people are protected from the virus and feel safe enough to resume their normal lives.

Recognizing this challenge of our lifetime, we must push the boundaries of science and research to improve the quality of life for our citizens and ensure no community is left behind. Our theme at this year’s South by Southwest® (SXSW) event, “The Road to Reopening: Recovery through Research,” answers the call about what is needed from a governmental R&D organization to improve security, restore public confidence and keep our front-line workforce safe and protected.

S&T is at SXSW ’21 to enhance relationships with the innovation community and help the tech community better connect to federal government-led COVID-19 response R&D initiatives. When we think about moving research from the lab to the street, S&T understands the importance of bringing together those who create the science and those who benefit from the science to produce outcomes that are not only achievable but can also be replicated across U.S. communities.

Don’t miss our virtual panel: Getting Life Back - Making Research Work for You!” on March 18 at 7:00 pm EST. By focusing on real-time problems, such as climate, public health, food security and access to clean water during disasters, this discussion will focus on how whole-of-government research investments are helping communities emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient, bringing resilience equity to vulnerable communities.

As we invest in research and technology and strategic partnerships to enhance security and resilience, the Biden Administration captures this historic challenge and opportunity for America today as: “Build Back Better.”

Build Back Better empowers DHS to take holistic assessments of our critical infrastructure and lifeline services to determine better approaches, methods and innovations for securing and improving vital sectors our society depends upon, including emergency response, public health, transportation and energy.

For many communities and regions, today’s threats are compounding. Beyond COVID-19, it is also the pressures of flooding, wildfires, bio-threats, blackouts, disinformation and hackings, among others, that bring out the best of R&D and stretch our thinking about where we need to mobilze R&D relationships to achieve faster and actionable results.

S&T is excited to be partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation to co-sponsor the $11 million CIVIC Innovation Challenge (CIVIC). CIVIC is funding ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects where community members, researchers and innovators are working across sectors to address how civic services and systems can be rebuilt stronger and more resilient once communities emerge from the pandemic. CIVIC is an example of how the events of the last year have forced us to explore new pathways for quickly turning research into action.

In adapting to our changing world and leveraging our expansive body of knowledge, S&T is excited to see where new R&D roads take us. Turning research into action to make a brighter and safer future for our children, requires a whole-of-society approach, so we encourage you to get connected today. Please visit our SXSW Resource Hub for more information about the virtual “Getting Life Back - Making Research Work for You!” panel. You’ll also find more details on how S&T’s collaborative R&D investments are helping to save lives and Build Back Better!

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