Understanding the true potential of a new technology comes with the opportunity to deploy it in a real life, urban environment scenario against adaptive adversaries.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) collaborated with the U.S. Army to assess the operational effectiveness of 25 technologies through practical application. Conducted in downtown Provo, UT, the event allowed more than 100 participants from DHS, the Department of Defense (DOD) the Department of Energy, academia and the private sector to assess both capabilities and vulnerabilities, as well as the concepts of operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures that accompany these technologies.
Scenarios included the use of a device to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at a location, and to confirm the presence of adversary assets prior to breaching the building. Frontline operators who routinely use these technologies ran the tests.
S&T formed the Operational Experiment Program (OpEx) in Fiscal Year 2013 to provide an operational analysis capability that identifies the risks associated with the technology development process.
The collaboration directly supports the S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex program, a five-year strategizing effort to address future challenges for tomorrow’s first responder. Through the operational testing, S&T identified potential first-responder capability gaps in mobile situational awareness and communication during incident response.
“The event was a great success. The initial feedback from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive, and based on the participation we were able to identify several key takeaways that are essential to planning and conducting operational experimentation. We were able to see how the technologies improved mission performance, and from this we were able to figure out next steps for developers,” said Program Manager Donald Fraser.
By putting emerging technologies in the hands of homeland security enterprise users in realistic, operational environments, the OpEx program enables stakeholders to better understand the necessary requirements for operation and the ability of those technologies to meet those requirements.
Over several months, S&T’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) worked closely with Unique Mission Cell (UMC) – an element of the Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate - to integrate several DHS S&T technologies and stakeholders into the event.
PPP facilitated the presence of three DHS-sponsored technologies in the event including: Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response System, Tunnel Activity Monitoring System, and the Remote Imaging Device System.
The results from the event will provide DHS and homeland security enterprise stakeholders with a better understanding of the operational requirements that must be addressed across multiple organizations to provide homeland security capabilities.