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Science and Technology Directorate Snapshots

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The e-newsletter of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate, S&T Snapshots, features stories about current research projects and opportunities with laboratories, universities, government agencies, and the private sector.

Current Story

  • Preventing Disease Outbreaks in Livestock – Now There’s An App for That: (February 11, 2014) Veterinarians are our nation’s first responders for animal health. The Enhanced Passive Surveillance uses mobile applications, or apps, to capture information on both healthy and sick animals in real time. Veterinarians can document the number of animals observed or examined, describe clinical signs or symptoms that match certain endemic and high consequence diseases, and provide specific geographic locations—all while performing examinations and treating animals.


  • Training First Responders for Active Shooter Response: (November 20, 2013) The Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) is a virtual training platform developed from existing technology that allows first responders to participate in complex training scenarios—improving coordination and communication across all jurisdictions, as well as mitigating injuries and loss of lives.
  • Detecting Heartbeats in Rubble: DHS and NASA Team up to Save Victims of Disasters: (September 5, 2013) When natural disasters or man-made catastrophes topple buildings, search and rescue teams immediately set out to recover victims trapped beneath the wreckage. During these missions, time is imperative, and quickly detecting living victims greatly increases chances for rescue and survival.
  • Smart Scavenging—Tech Foraging at DHS: (July 19, 2013) When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking for a new technology to help fight terrorism, recover from a natural disaster, or support the nation’s first responders, it turns to its Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).  S&T then collaborates with its federal partners, as well as industry, and academia, and finds these solutions more efficiently and economically than ever before.
  • Interoperable Communications Across Borders: (March 25, 2013) On the morning of December 6, 1917, in the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, near the U.S. border in Maine, a French ship, the Mont Blanc, filled with military explosives collided with another vessel.  Twenty minutes later, a fire set off the Mont Blanc’s volatile cargo and caused a catastrophic explosion—killing thousands and destroying an entire section of the nearby city.  Rescue efforts were dispatched immediately from the Canadian mainland as well as the United States, but confusion and lack of immediate information delayed some of the rescue efforts for hours.
  • Arresting a Fleeing Vehicle at the Push of a Button: (Feb. 28, 2013) In 2010, the characteristics of a squid’s sticky tendrils were combined with the concept of Spiderman’s super-strong webbing to create a prototype of the first remote device to stop vehicles in their tracks: the Safe, Quick, Undercarriage Immobilization Device (SQUID).



  • Where There's Smoke, There's a Signal (June 16, 2011): For firefighters, wireless self-powered router “breadcrumbs” that won’t become toast when baked or soggy when hosed. (First Responders)
  • Sentries in the Garden Shed (February 15, 2011): Plants that can detect environmental contaminants and explosives. (Chemical & Biological)


  • Resilient Homes: Last Room Standing (June 15, 2010): The Department wants you to know that safe rooms can be life savers in the face of Mother Nature's wrath (Infrastructure & Geophysical)
  • It Takes a Water Purifier (March 23, 2010): Dirty water is one of Mother Nature’s overlooked assassins. S&T seeks to clean it up. (Infrastructure & Geophysical)
  • Mapping an Emergency (January 12, 2010): Making communications among first responders interoperable (Command, Control & Interoperability)


  • Boston's Big Sniff (December 9, 2009): Researchers collect data during a study on airflow in Boston's subway system (Chemical & Biological)
  • What in Blazes is Going On? (October 13, 2009): Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology sends Ph.D. fireman to help firefighters seek—and get—tougher, safer gear (First Responders)
  • Tunnel Vision (June 26, 2009): Department scientists want to help Border Patrol agents find tunnels with ground penetrating radar technology (Borders & Maritime)
  • Cerebral Melodies (April 22, 2009): Improving emergency response through music (Human Factors)
  • Success Strewn Amidst the Wreckage (April 17, 2009): Inexpensive memory chips inside new forensic cameras for mass transit protection survive a massive explosion (Explosives)
  • Reap What You Search (April 8, 2009): Department of Homeland Security software seeks to harvest Department of Energy research (Laboratory Research)
  • Lights, Camera, Ka-Boom! (March 5, 2009): Inexpensive, lightweight bomb-proof cameras may help protect mass transit (Explosives)
  • Lost in Digital Translation (February 25, 2009): To improve firefighters' radios, recording garbled speech is the first step toward clearing it up. (Command, Control & Interoperability)
  • Good Liquid, Bad Liquid (February 5, 2009): Los Alamos scientists successfully test system that detects potentially explosive liquids, gels, and lotions (Explosives) 

Pre-2009 articles are available in our S&T Snapshots Archives.

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