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DHS, business leaders discuss technology to protect US at Homeland Security conference

People everywhere have to be free of large-scale catastrophes to pursue their dreams and enjoy life.

In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the federal agency charged with protecting our nation from terrorist attacks and making it a more secure place to live, work and visit.

To that end, DHS, through its Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, works to evaluate and commercialize technology that leads to products, systems and services that help protect the United States from a wide variety of attacks.

Attendees at the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security at the Westin Waltham Boston found out about some of these technologies from a Business Panel of experts Tuesday 13 May.

At the end of the day we want to deliver products that protect people and property, said business panel honorary chair Dr. Thomas A. Cellucci, chief commercialization officer, DHS S&T.

The two-day 2008 IEEE Homeland Security Conference was the eighth one organized by the IEEE Boston Section following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The conference continues to grow and this year had more than 450 attendees from the United States and abroad. Industry sponsors included SAIC, Raytheon and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).

IEEE-USA became a co-sponsor in 2007.

Cellucci, who earned his doctorate in physical chemistry, presented an overview of DHS S&Ts technology commercialization programs. He related how he gets numerous e-mails each day from business executives telling him that their company is the only one in the world that has a specific product or capability. He suggests to those who fill his in-box with hyperbole to show us the difference.

Cellucci explained that DHS is working diligently to develop detailed operational requirements and provide conservative estimates of potential markets in DHS and first responder communities. He would like to avoid the current situation of companies who approach DHS with solutions looking for problems.

This represents an open and fair way to create a cost-effective and efficient relationship between the private sector and DHS in which mutually beneficial, win-win partnerships are created, Cellucci said.

Dennis Treece, Massport's director of corporate security, who works closely with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to pilot innovative technologies and programs, concurred with Cellucci.

We have vendors come to us and tell us what their product can do, but they too often have not done the research to find out what our problems really are, Treece said. Massport operates aviation, port and surface transportation assets in the Boston area. A technology that may have security benefits could also be hugely disruptive to our operations.

To help the technology innovation community learn about the security, safety and operational requirements of Massport facilities, Treece started the Transportation Security Center of Excellence (TSCE). Logan Airport is one of TSAs six designated technology pilot sites. Since its launch in 2003, the TSCE has reviewed 78 new technologies and programs, 18 of which went to full pilot stage. Several of these were adopted, not only by Massport but also by other airports and ports. Treece credits Massport staff.

The TSCE operates with help from volunteers among the Massport security and emergency responder community, as well as with support from the TSA, and Massport department, engineering and information technology staff, he said.

Cellucci and Treece were joined on the panel by Patrick Ciganer, executive vice president, In-Q-Tel; Ralph E. Taylor-Smith, general partner, Battelle Ventures; Arthur Robert, industry director, Defense & Renewable Energy Technologies, Massachusetts Office of Business Development; and Robert Seelandt, partner manager, MetaCarta, Inc.

Gregory Bialecki, undersecretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, delivered the keynote address that day and welcomed the panel.

In-Q-Tel, which was launched by the CIA in 1999, identifies and partners with companies that deliver cutting-edge technologies to the CIA and the broader U.S. intelligence community. Ciganer discussed one company, Keyhole, that In-Q-Tel funded. Keyhole had developed a virtual globe -- Earth Viewer -- which Google acquired in 2004. The application is now part of Google Earth, Google Earth Plus and Google Earth Pro.

Like the Internet, Google Earth is an example of how U.S. government investment can stimulate economic activity, generate jobs and eventually benefit people all over the world.


Contact: Chris McManes

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