Homeland Security

May 7, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A prototype device known as FINDER detected heartbeats in the rubble of Nepal, leading to the rescue of four men.

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) device lived up to its name in Nepal, detecting signs of life that led to the rescue of four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris following the devastating April 25 earthquake in the area.

FINDER, developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Jim Lux, JPL’s FINDER task manager, credits luck, but it took quick thinking and rapid coordination to ensure FINDER was in the right place at the right time to be helpful.

April 28, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

Although cybersecurity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, 90 percent of companies recently surveyed admit that their organizations have invested in a security technology that was ultimately discontinued or scrapped before or soon after deployment. The survey also revealed that the most important metrics are the least reliable. For example, although 70 percent of respondents said return on investment and total cost of ownership are critical metrics for investment and measurement of a technology’s economic benefits, the same number said it is difficult to calculate these metrics.

October 10, 2014

PositiveID Corporation, Delray Beach, Florida, has announced that it, in conjunction with its partner, ENSCO Inc., has been awarded a SenseNet Program contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate. The goal of this SenseNet award is to implement faster, less expensive bio-threat detection systems, using existing infrastructure where possible, to provide an added level of security.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to replace its Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT, in the next two to four years, an official with the department says. IDENT is DHS's central system for storing and processing biometric and associated biographic information for various homeland security purposes.

September 12, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has transitioned the first technology in its Transition to Practice (TTP) program to commercial market two years ahead of schedule. The effort involves Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Quantum Secured Communication, which was picked up by the company Allied Minds. That private-sector entity exclusively licensed the technology in August 2013 and formed Whitewood Encryption Systems Incorporated to bring it to market. The product is a next-generation encryption system that leverages the quantum properties of light.

June 2, 2014

Verizon Business Network Services Incorporated, Ashburn, Virginia, was awarded a $10,567,483 firm-fixed-price contract for the priority telecommunication service to support the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications. This contract has a nine-month base period and nine one-year option periods. If all options are exercised, the total cumulative contract value is $81,027,515. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO), Scott Air Force Base, Illinois is the contracting activity (HC1013-14-C-0002).

January 22, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Integrated Microwave Technologies LLC (IMT), Mount Olive, N.J., has been awarded a Technical Investigative Surveillance (TechOps) contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. IMT’s contract is a competitive five-year Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity agreement, awarded in the video category, which includes covert video equipment such as transmitters and receivers offering mobile, fixed and multiple concealment technologies. IMT will deliver interoperable technical investigative surveillance solutions in support of federal agency requirements. 

October 29, 2012
George I. Seffers

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) has awarded 34 contracts to 29 academic and research organizations for research and development of solutions to cyber security challenges. The contracts were awarded by the DHS S&T Cyber Security Division (CSD) under Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 11-02 which solicited proposals in 14 technical topic areas aimed at improving security in federal networks and across the Internet while developing new and enhanced technologies for detecting, preventing and responding to cyber attacks on the nation’s critical information infrastructure.

October 16, 2012
George I. Seffers

American Science and Engineering Incorporated, Ballerica, Mass., recently announced that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) awarded the company an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with a ceiling value of $245 million for its SmartCheck Personnel Screening System with next generation advanced imaging technology. The IDIQ contract also includes service, maintenance, and training for the SmartCheck systems. As part of this contract, AS&E received its first delivery order for three SmartCheck systems to be tested at TSA facilities.

June 20, 2012
By George Seffers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Thales Communications Incorporated, of Clarksburg, Maryland, a contract to provide public safety and tactical communications products to DHS under its new Tactical Communications (TacCom) program. Through this multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) program, DHS will quickly procure vital tactical radio equipment and other products and services. The agency will use the equipment to support reliable and interoperable public safety communications for its missions to keep the homeland safe, including border protection, customs enforcement, drug interdiction, and emergency response to natural and man-made disasters.

May 16, 2012
By George Seffers

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems has been awarded a $14 million task order by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to support the National Communications System (NCS). General Dynamics will provide around-the-clock watch operations for critical communications infrastructure through support of the NCS's National Coordinating Center (NCC) for Communications. The company will provide emergency response support and liaison to communications partners to identify the possible impacts of potentially disruptive events and coordinate the restoration and repair of the infrastructure when outages occur.

May 7, 2012
By George Seffers

BioFlow, a handheld biological threat detection system under development at The Mitre Corporation's Bio-Nano Laboratory could one day help emergency response teams identify biological threats on site, saving time, money and possibly lives. Mitre engineers have demonstrated the concept for several government sponsors, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments. BioFlow combines existing technology and sampling techniques to identify a variety of threats, including bacterial agents that cause anthrax, viruses and clinical markers such as thyroid stimulating hormone.

March 1, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Government may have been in the slow lane to accept social media as a viable conduit for sharing information, but agencies are now coordinating their efforts to ensure messages going out to the public can be trusted. Members of a panel discussing its uses at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference said the technologies that facilitate ubiquitous communications among the public are merely another change in generations of changes. The key is that the same principles that govern reliable news reports and privacy and civil liberties protections apply whether the public is depending on newspapers, broadcast, Facebook, Skype or Twitter, they agreed.

March 1, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Recent legislation is opening the doors for public safety organizations to do more in the wireless broadband realm. Experts in the field discussed the ramifications of H.R. 3630 Title VI, which the president signed into law last month, during the first Thursday panel at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. The benefits include improved collaboration among emergency service organizations and additional dollars that will be spent to improve communication capabilities. The FCC currently is putting together the Public Safety Interoperability Advisory Board.

February 29, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Paul A. Schneider, former deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), kicked off the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference this morning by stating that not enough revenue has been allocated in the U.S. budget to fight all the cyberthreats, which are some of the most critical dangers facing the nation today. The U.S. currently is as unprepared to protect its cybernetworks as it was to protect New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11, Schneider said. Shortfalls exist in protecting physical infrastructure such as power and water facilities. "When all is said and done, this is just crime using the Internet," he added.

February 29, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

In a time when government agencies and industry must tighten their belts, it may be a cloak that saves the security day. While discussing best practices in securing the cloud at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference, panelist Tim Kelleher, vice president of professional services, BlackRidge Technology, shared details about his company's approach to stopping cybermarauders in their recon tracks. The technique is called cloaking, and Kelleher used caller ID to describe how his company's solution could improve cybersecurity not only in future environments but in current networks as well.

February 29, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Amazing anecdotes kept the audience entertained during the lunch session at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. The experts spoke about a serious subject: cyberwar. But the stories about their hands-on experiences in learning how to fight cyberwars, how they've fought cyberthreats and what they believe is needed to prepare future cyberwarriors kept conference attendees enthralled. Among the panelists was Maj. T.J. O'Connor, USA, 10th Special Forces Group (A), S-6. While attending the U.S. Military Academy, Maj. O'Connor had some time on his hands that led him to learn how best to defeat cyberattacks.

February 28, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Although not claiming victory, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made some serious headway in improving cybersecurity, according to panelists discussing the topic at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C. Experts said the threats have not disappeared but rather have changed, and various DHS agencies have been learning how to better handle them. Alma Cole, chief systems security officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, described today's cyberthreats in a way the other panelists agreed with.

February 28, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Responding to an emergency is just as crucial-and as technically complicated as-preventing one. Members of the final panel for the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day discussed the importance of communications capabilities to mitigate the effects of a manmade or natural disaster and restore normalcy to an area. Damon Penn, assistant administrator, National Continuity Programs Directorate , FEMA, related that restoring communications so that disaster victims can contact their families can help in two ways. First, family members can pick up victims and take them to a safer location.

February 16, 2012
By Beverly Schaeffer

Much like the three propeller blades on a wind turbine, three U.S. government agencies are spinning together a program to produce a microgrid that will provide power that is independent of external sources. The departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security want to enable military bases and other installations to continue operations in the event of power failure due to enemy actions or other events. A key element of this microgrid is network security, and it must be able to continue functions even in the face of cybermarauders, who could bring down an entire system.

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