It is easy to be skeptical about the U.S. government having its act together when it comes to security issues. That includes all facets, from the White House to Congress to the myriad organization chart known as the Department of Homeland Security, which will soon consolidate 35 D.C. area locations into one, new $650 million headquarters. But those who took advantage of the recent Security Industry Association Government Summit received a thorough update on all things “national security.”
Perhaps the most impactful speaker was former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, who discussed what to expect from DHS during the next five years. Referring to current and recent crises, including 9/11, the Christmas Day 2009 airline bomber, the Times Square bomber and the BP oil disaster, he noted that the public’s focus on these issues becomes the priority. “It is impossible to get your agenda through when the public is focused on the emergency situation,” said Chertoff. “This is the same for business.” As an example, BP’s business agenda – whatever it was – is now on hold, if not lost completely.
1. Security that can be employed by military or civilian authorities quickly to make awareness and intelligence available to identify threats and the proactive use of information to take action. For example, recently, the U.S. stopped two individuals going to Somalia to train to be terrorists as a result of this activity. So more fluidity and interoperability between agencies is required and being realized. A second outstanding example of the civil/military merge is the FBI’s role in Iraq. The FBI used their expertise to collect fingerprints on the battlefield, database them and match them at borders and airports, etc. While the U.S. did not know who the people were, they knew those prints belonged to a person who raises a red flag.
2. Bio terror sensors and sound sensor technology will continue to be deployed to gain information faster and analyze it for improved situational awareness. The goal is to improve security without slowing processes, so acceptance relies on technology being friendly to all stakeholders.
3. Cyber-terrorism. A secure architecture is required to protect the Internet while enabling service and access.
4. Border security will continue to be a major issue for DHS, Congress and the public. Chertoff said two issues we face include people who entered the U.S. with a valid Visa and stayed, and people who entered illegally. He sees two programs to mediate border issues: track and renew or deport those here illegally (logical security) and fence and other prevention to inhibit entrance (physical security).
Harman also has a sharp eye on metrics and measurement. The recently published FEMA GPD Grant Program Accomplishments Report includes the responsibilities to be accountable, but flexible, to enable local authorities to achieve preparedness.