The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently had some fun lending our spin to a trending social media campaign, one that recaps music lovers’ top songs and albums of the year. You may have recently seen “wrapped” posts from friends and family and perhaps learned a bit about what your own favorites say about you. Our take on the trend was a little different—less about music (although, who doesn’t love Taylor Swift?) and more about the stories we told throughout the year and what resonated most with our audiences. We did some analysis of our top content for 2021, and I’m happy to report that we learned a lot by looking through your eyes. Here is the story of our year:
The ‘force’ is with us. Half of our top-viewed feature articles centered on research and development (R&D) alliances and strategic partnerships. Everything from collaborating on safeguarding our public transit systems to an award-winning joint effort that secures airport checkpoints against chemical agents to studying wastewater to ‘flush out’ COVID-19 in our communities. We are strong advocates for science as a ‘team sport’ of sorts; we collaborate daily across federal, state, local and tribal governments, with first responders, labs, academia, and the private sector. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when experts unite.
You have a health-y appetite. Not surprisingly, our content related to S&T’s support for pandemic response and public health security was among the most popular of the year. You really responded to our coverage of a technology that can discriminate between bacterial and viral infections (including COVID-19) using a single drop of blood. You learned about our top scientists furthering COVID-19 research, studying ways to detect airborne Ebola Virus, and even facilitating safer chemical transportation so our hometowns can breathe easier. It was further proof that we all know healthy and strong communities contribute to a healthy, secure nation.
All eyes are on the skies. A close third in our trending topics this year was monitoring our airspace, securing our borders and assessing Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) technologies and refining C-UAS requirements. Our article and video on a joint effort to improve air domain awareness at the northern border—number 10 on the 2021 list—highlighted field tests with federal agencies and industry partners in the stunning terrains of North Dakota and Montana. Another article/video combo released this summer—number 6 for the year—highlighted our C-UAS efforts as drone use increases in popularity. When it comes to our overall border security mission, the sky may not be the limit, but it sure is an important front.
Everybody loves first responders. Including us! One-third of blogs, two-thirds of top videos, and about a quarter of our top articles all featured R&D for first responders. This summer, I shared word of new 5G emergency communications security resources and critical tools and technologies for disaster preparedness. And this spring, we launched a campaign for POINTER, a tracking and location technology that can pinpoint a firefighter’s location in a burning building to within one centimeter. We not only develop technologies for first responders but develop them with responders as well. I’m happy to share some brand-new videos of firefighters explaining in their own words just how groundbreaking POINTER is for the fire service.
Rounding out the remainder of our top content were materials related to cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, and…I’m excited to say…science. Following the science is what we do at S&T every day, and I am thrilled that you are along for the ride.
And with that, it’s a ‘wrap’ for our blogs in 2021. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and healthy New Year. Cheers to new adventures in 2022!