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Convention Explores Homeland Security

March 2003
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

Experts share insight about new missions, solutions.

The future role of information technology in support of homeland security and the war on terrorism initiatives will be the focus of TechNet International 2003, May 6-8. In its new venue—the recently opened Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.—AFCEA International will offer three days of information presentations and technology demonstrations in an integrated setting.

During the past year, military, government and business leaders have focused their energies on reorganizing to protect the world and its citizens from emerging threats. The U.S. government established a cabinet-level department to coordinate and address the requirements for homeland security. Companies large and small have reorganized their priorities to direct their attention to technologies that will help protect borders, facilitate information sharing or authenticate identities. Today, leaders face several challenges, not the least of which is communicating their requirements to industry specialists who can offer solutions.

This year’s theme, “Homeland Security: IT in a New World … 9/11 and Beyond,” appropriately describes the plethora of opportunities for open discussions about requirements and solutions. More than a trade show, TechNet will allow attendees to hear directly from top-level government and military personnel. In addition, government representatives searching for the right technology to solve specific problems will be able to try out solutions first-hand.

TechNet 2003 is designed to be a professional development experience for all attendees. Each day will feature presentations by military leaders, panel sessions led by key government and industry personnel, professional development mini-courses and focused seminars. In addition, the ongoing job fair will allow attendees to meet with organizations that offer employment opportunities.

The convention has been organized based on categories of requirements identified by military and government decision makers. AFCEA sought and received input about content from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, intelligence community directors, combatant commanders and military support organizations such as the National Defense University.

Based on their recommendations, technologies and expertise have been assembled in areas such as collaborative tools, interoperability, data fusion, sensors and information protection. In addition, discussions and demonstrations will take place about information exchange, architecture design, content management methods and intrusion detection equipment. While keynote speakers present the big picture and overall objectives, panels of subject-matter experts will dig deeper into specific requirements and programs.

The technology Solutions Showcase will feature the capabilities of hundreds of companies that address these needs. Product categories represented in the exhibit area will include information security and operations, wireless communications, antennas, data storage, avionics, education and training, global positioning systems and networking tools. Reflecting the need to address specific homeland security requirements, additional technologies in areas such as emergency communications, air traffic control and multilevel security will be demonstrated.

Four technical panel sessions, which will take place in the TechTalk Theater in the Solutions Showcase area, will focus on some of the primary homeland security concerns of government agencies. Emergency/Consequence Management Systems in a Multi-Agency Environment panelists will discuss coping with large volumes of data when faced with independent events. The challenges of sharing information will be discussed in a session titled Intelligence and Homeland Security: Transcending Federal, State and Local Boundaries. Panelists in the Information Technology Support to Interagency Coordination session will address the multidisciplinary nature of homeland security. Finally, the reorganization of federal agencies brought about by the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be examined in a panel titled Government and Industry Organizational Structure for Homeland Security.

In addition to presentations organized by AFCEA International, the Defense Information Systems Agency will provide insights into its plans for the future. Those briefings will be held in a designated area of the Solutions Showcase.

The J-6 Worldwide Conference will take place concurrently with TechNet 2003, and Wednesday’s lunch discussions will feature a J-6 representative from each of the services who will participate in a panel. Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr., USA, J-6, the Joint Staff, is scheduled to moderate the panel.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to experience a sampling of courses offered by AFCEA’s Professional Development Center during half-day mini-courses. The five courses will cover topics such as computer security and data mining.

TechNet 2003 will be one of the first events held in the new Washington Convention Center. The facility is described as the largest building in Washington, D.C., covering six city blocks on 17 acres of land. To put it into perspective, the center could hold six NFL football fields. It features advanced fiber optic and satellite communications systems, state-of-the-art voice and data services, and cyber cafes. Exhibit areas are column-free.