Britain and U.S. Agree To Share Security Tech
The United States and United Kingdom are attempting to bridge their
homeland security efforts. Late last year, then-U.K. Home Secretary
David Blunkett and U.S. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary James
Loy signed a memorandum of agreement “establishing a framework
for cooperation in science and technology in critical infrastructure
protection and other homeland security concerns.
The agreement outlines a formal transatlantic arrangement for future
cooperation in science and technology research and development.
The memorandum outlines formal exchanges of homeland and civil security
scientists, engineers and experts. It also clears the way for the
development of threat and vulnerability assessments for at-risk
infrastructure. Perhaps more importantly, it sets the stage for
he exchange of commercially adaptable standards and guidelines.
With the agreement, the Bush and Blair administrations hope to
foster jointly created, tested and administered homeland security
technologies that can be shared, a move that would maximize the
research facilities and expertise of both nations, Loy and Blunkett
said in a joint statement.
The agreement was one of Blunkett’s last acts as the UK’s
top law enforcement officer. He resigned eleven days later, after
allegations surfaced that he tried to get preferential treatment
from immigration officials for his former lover’s nanny.
Gains Toehold in Middle East
The first Middle East organization to participate in a global port
security program has just signed up, the Department of Homeland
Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corp. joined the U.S. Customs
and Border Protection’s container security initiative in December,
said DHS Commissioner Robert Bonner.
At the heart of the initiative are bilateral partnerships with
other governments to identify and pre-screen high-risk cargo containers
before they are loaded on vessels destined for the United States.
Governments representing 21 countries have signed up for the program,
which installs U.S. officials in foreign ports to assist with the
The World Customs Organization, the European Union and the G8 support
the security initiative’s expansion, and have adopted resolutions
implementing the program’s security measures that have been
introduced at ports throughout the world. The effort represents
a little-cited but concrete diplomatic victory in the United States’
cargo screening efforts.
The Dubai port recently has been experiencing impressive growth,
with port officials reporting 23 percent more containers going through
the United Arab Emirates since 2002. New berths are being constructed
to accommodate the increase. The port exists in a “free zone,”
where foreign companies can own 100 percent of the facilities they
establish, and are free of all taxation. Approximately 2,800 companies
from 100 nations have established businesses in the zone.
Report Calls for Transparent
The effort to protect the United States from biological attacks
has received considerable attention and money from the federal government,
but those funds could be much better applied, according to a report
by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute.
The study, released last month, calls for greater transparency
and better budget planning. The government has allocated an estimated
$11 billion for biological defense between 2002 and 2004, an increase
of 67.6 percent.
“Greater budget clarity would produce a better metric to
evaluate how effectively money is spent, whether expenditures are
on target, what gaps exist and what more needs to be done as a matter
of priority,” said the report, which was compiled under the
auspices of the non-partisan Nuclear Threat Initiative. “That
budget clarity does not now exist.”
In researching the report, Michael Moddie, CBACI president, noted
that information was difficult to acquire. “The problem is
not so much that information is not made available publicly, but
that it is poorly presented and explained,” he said.
The study recommends a more stable and coordinated platform for
bio-defense funding. The administration’s Office of Management
and Budget should send Congress a single, coordinated document that
covers all bio-defense spending by the government in the current
year, as well as provide projections for such spending in the five
following years, the report recommended.
“Bio-defense appropriations should be made over a five-year
period, with a ‘budget wall’ around bio-defense spending,
to help stabilize funding and make it less vulnerable to disruptions,”
the report suggested. “Greater attention must be given to
the structure, timing, and coordination of state and local grant
The report said that immediate priorities have obstructed the funding
of a longer, more comprehensive strategy. The report added that
the entire public health network needs “sustained investments”
to become strong enough to handle a mass casualty event, which echoed
complaints that the current system would buckle under the strain
of a serious biological attack.
NSF Funds Handheld Radio Prototype
The National Science Foundation recently granted a small business
innovation research award for the development of a new radio system
that is capable of transmitting data between first responders in
and outside buildings.
Emergency radio signals often aren’t strong enough to penetrate
walls, especially in buildings with high metal content. To defeat
this problem, Ohio-based Audiopack Technologies Inc. will develop
a working prototype of a communications system using “mesh
Each first responder’s radio acts as a network node. If a
transmission fails to reach the incident commander outside, it is
automatically re-routed through other nodes in the network until
it reaches its ultimate destination. Radios also can be placed inside
doorways or windows to serve as relays to responders in and out
of buildings. Audiopack’s system also features the transmission
of critical data such as remaining oxygen tank pressure, room temperature
and physiological data. Such tracking devices would make it easier
to alert commanders to trouble, and rescue any imperiled responders.
Ports Pursuing High-Tech Security
Northrop Grumman unveiled a port security system in December that
provides a glimpse of the requirements the Navy is eyeing to harden
harbors and waterways—above and below the surface.
Northrop’s product, called Centurion, features an array of
underwater fiber optic cables, passive sonar sensors, a marine radar
and shipboard identification systems, company officials said. A
digital charting system integrated the information into a single
picture, which increases the awareness of what was coming into the
No electronic components were used in the water, and acoustic fiber-optic
sensors were developed solely for the project, said Alexis Livanos,
vice president of Northrop’s navigation and space sensors
division. “The arrays employ glass fibers instead of older
piezoelectric hydrophones,” he added. “The sensor arrays
have low power requirements and provide wide frequency coverage.”
The Navy’s maritime surveillance systems program office awarded
a contract to develop the system in October. During December’s
demonstration, conducted at the Naval Base Ventura County, in California,
divers with battery-powered underwater scooters and surface craft
were located trying to infiltrate the test area.
In another maritime security development, the Port of San Juan,
Puerto Rico, will be receiving an advanced digital surveillance
The system, designed and built by Honeywell International, will
cover the entire 11-mile perimeter of the port. It will give security
personnel a complete view of activity in the San Juan Bay. To build
the system, Honeywell will install 45,000 feet of fiber optic cable,
company officials said. The effort will cost $4.9 million.
The surveillance system will have 40 terabytes of memory for high-resolution
recording. The system will automatically log all activity, providing
a complete record of surveillance operations. Using search capabilities,
operators also can find previously recorded videos.
Web-Based WMD Tool Kit
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency recently released a web-based
program that incorporates a handful of weapons of mass destruction
related simulations and modeling programs into a one-stop location,
“The goal is to push the DTRA tools out into the field,”
said Jim Gerding, deputy of the agency’s weapons of mass destruction
assessment and analysis center.
The website application, called the integrated weapons of mass
destruction tool set, combines five programs that are used to predict
or manage exposure to hazardous materials, whether they are exploded
in a terrorist’s bomb or the target of a U.S. military strike.
Tracking toxic plumes, assessing damage and consequence management
for nuclear detonations also will be possible.
The programs have been plucked from DTRA’s arsenal of disaster
management tools, and have been combined into a common framework.
National Guard civil support teams responding to a nuclear blast,
for example, could plot the radiation and electromagnetic pulse
effects. Data from any fallout, either from a radiological or a
nuclear bomb, can be sent to handheld wireless devices in the field.
The consequence assessment tool set could then be applied to manage
hospital overflow—all without downloading or installing a
By placing these programs on a web browser instead of installing
them directly into a system, users can quickly pull up the modeling
they need without concern that the program will disrupt other applications,
Gerding said. Such a tool also reduces the strain on DTRA experts,
who can deploy in fewer numbers to bring expertise to the field.
Access to the website will be administered through a keychain-sized
device that provides a six-digit access code, which changes every
minute, Gerding said. These devices are administered to National
Guard units, emergency management offices, state police and military
units upon request.
The programs used in the integrated WMD tool kit have been tested
in the field. The U.S. Central Command’s rapid targeting system
uses a version of DTRA’s munitions assessment tool. An integrated
version of the programs will be used in the Air Force’s Virtual
Flag exercise, and also will be featured in Army and Navy exercises
DTRA’s integration effort had a budget of $1.5 million, agency