After serving Security magazine during two decades of its 40 years, I have learned a few things. One is to deeply respect the people who provide private security. Another is to realize that, while nothing much changes rapidly, the diversity and complexities of threats do change and evolve.
There is no doubt, for example, that the war on terror is defining where a lot of today’s and tomorrow’s spending is being directed.
Battelle, the firm involved in science and technology with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, has put together a list of 10 top innovations for the war on terror.
According to the firm’s forecast, innovations in intelligence gathering and decision support, sensors, monitoring and a greater emphasis on cross-cultural communication will lead to a more effective response to worldwide terrorism over the next decade.
“The tools we use to fight the global war on terrorism will undergo great enhancement and refinement over the next decade,” said Dr. Steve Millett, Battelle thought leader and futurist who convened the group of experts to address the issue.
Ranked in order of importance, the 10 innovations most likely to emerge in the coming decade that can have the greatest impact on winning the war against terrorism are as follows:
Top Ten Innovations
1. Forward-Looking Intelligence will anticipate terrorist actions and translate that information into an effective response.
2. Biological and Chemical Sensors that will mimic nature (biomimetrics), to enhance detection of bombs, weapons and chemical and biological threats.
3. Non-Invasive and Non-Destructive Imaging, such as the emerging terahertz (T-rays), will identify the contents of shipping containers, trucks, luggage and sealed packages.
4. Non-Lethal Directed Energy Weapons Systems, such as the Vehicle Mounted Active Denial System which will be capable of stopping people and machinery, as well as interrupting or remotely triggering improvised explosive devices and land mines.
5. Comprehensive Space, Air, Land, and Sea Monitoring will be integrated with current and new technology to form a more effective global surveillance system.
6. 21st Century Public Diplomacy will help gain a better understanding of opposing cultures and values so that the United States and its allies can develop more effective strategies to prevent terrorism.
7. Electronic Tracking of Money will use new software and tagging technology to follow and effectively shut down key operatives in terrorist organizations.
8. Distributed Forces and an Interlocking Network using “enabling” technologies — such as advanced minicomputers and communication networks – will turn military forces into distributed sensors, as well as combatants, and allow them to provide information back to command headquarters.
9. Encouraging Public Awareness and Self-Identification of Terrorists through innovative applications of behavioral science will combat terrorist activity. Examples might include a global “Amber Alert” system to distribute multi-lingual information on known terrorists, and a program like the “America’s Most Wanted” to help find terrorists.
10. Neutralizing Explosive Chemicals through a new generation of chemistry will render the compounds contained in common chemicals unusable as bombs.
While these innovations will surely affect government and military organizations, there are lessons to learn for corporate and commercial security operations, too.
It’s obvious that technological advances will accelerate. At the same time, there will be greater emphasis on analysis of intelligence, whether it is in Iraqi or Des Moines or NATO or Wal-mart. Security magazine looks forward to serving you in the decades to come.