FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
S&T Public Affairs, 202-286-9047
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced a new solicitation seeking solutions to generate synthetic data that models and replicates the shape and patterns of real data, while safeguarding privacy and mitigating security harms. Synthetic data is important for DHS because it allows the Department to train machine learning models using synthetic data when real-world data is not available, or when using it would pose privacy and security risks, particularly if the real-world data includes sensitive information, such as personally identifiable information (PII).
“It is crucial for DHS to effectively navigate today’s complex privacy landscape and employ innovative ideas and next generation technology techniques to do so,” said Melissa Oh, Managing Director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). “The ability to generate synthetic data at scale is necessary to protect and preserve data privacy, as well as safeguard civil rights and liberties.”
DHS aims to find synthetic data generation solutions that have versatile applications and emphasizes privacy protections, while maintaining the data’s realism to existent data. The solutions DHS is looking for in this topic call should provide the following capabilities:
- Support structured and unstructured data types
- Artificially generate synthetic data using techniques that seek to understand the shape and patterns of real data
- Replicate data sets with desired statistical attributes
- Remove and/or mitigate bias in synthetic data
- Generate data of sufficient quality to train machine learning (ML) models
- Verify data fidelity
- Discern how different generation techniques may be suited to different types of data
- Prevent real data being reverse engineered from synthetic data
The SVIP solicitation seeks privacy preserving technical capabilities that directly serve the mission needs of DHS operational Components and Offices, including the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the DHS Privacy Office (PRIV).
“CISA strives to introduce and integrate state-of-the art technology into our operational activities,” said Garfield Jones, CISA’s Associate Chief of Strategic Technology. “The introduction of Privacy Enhancing Technologies, such as the generation and use of synthetic data, will allow us to mature our operational collaboration with government, industry, academic, and international partners while safeguarding data privacy.”
“The Privacy Office is proud to support the development of innovative solutions to safeguard privacy across the Homeland Security Enterprise,” said Chief Privacy Officer Mason Clutter. “The ability to generate and use synthetic data would be a game changer in the Department’s use of complex and rapidly evolving technologies to meet its critical mission while protecting privacy.”
Companies participating in this topic call are eligible for up to $1.7 million of non-dilutive funding over four phases to develop and adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases.
Applications responding to the solicitation are accepted until the deadline on April 10, 2024, at 3:00 PM ET.
On February 22, 2024, 1-3:30 PM ET, SVIP will host a hybrid industry day in Durham, North Carolina, to provide an overview of the topic call and answer solicitation questions.