The new Department of Homeland Security is assembling an information infrastructure that must encompass internal and external organizations, must process and disseminate key data among the appropriate customers, and must incorporate innovative new technologies and approaches to stay ahead of the enemy-all without missing a critical piece of intelligence or running afoul of the law. In effect, the department is constructing a complex information architecture that must serve its crucial immediate needs well before it is completed.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is opening the door to the private sector in its quest for innovative technologies to support ongoing operations and meet future requirements. Modeled after the U.S. Defense Department's primary research and development arm, the new department's parallel agency will be seeking solutions to challenges in the areas of biological and chemical agent detection, nuclear, radiological and high explosive attack deterrence, and information security.
The U.S. Defense Department is bringing its expertise on the battlefield to the home front. Under the direction of an organization that was chartered less than eight months ago, the department is taking aim at those who would do the nation harm, assisting law enforcement and federal agencies with technical capabilities and proficiency in tactics, techniques and procedures. Although this is not a new mission for the military, it is an indication of the department's resolve to win the war against terrorism.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has prepared for a serious health event-including a biological attack-anywhere in the United States by building a multimedia command center in its Washington, D.C., headquarters. This facility serves both to present all the necessary information to a decision maker and to establish vital communications links to emergency responders even during a devastating public health event such as a pandemic or a bioterrorism event.
A commercial homeland security test facility is serving as a proving ground for systems and processes for all levels of government responders. It features hardware and software from dozens of companies as well as potential crisis scenarios developed by government officials.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has launched an initiative to enhance interoperability between area command centers during an emergency. The effort will create a common communications architecture to enhance participating organizations' situational awareness in a crisis.
Personal handheld devices are supporting antiterrorism and homeland security measures for users from military base guards to emergency first responders. The wireless capability, durability and portability allow different levels of government and first responders to communicate not only quickly but also accurately.