If the 2008 Homeland Security Science & Technology Stakeholders conference is any indication,the future of homeland security, law enforcement, counterterrorism and emergency response is so high-tech it makes most science fiction scenarios look a little homespun.
I'll be blogging for the next few days about the Washington D.C. conference, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and held June 2-5.
The conference provides extravagant examples of a future of networked, integrated systems that connect people, information and machines.
Indeed, proving its point that the networked future is already here, the conference provided all attendees interactive nametags that let them respond instantly to polls. One set of responses on the first day of the conference gave some indication of the new business model that's driving the high tech future. Asked who they work for, 50% of the audience members identified themselves as defense contractors from large (over 1,000 employees) companies, who do business primarily with the Department of Defense. The five year old DHS relies heavily on private industry and other external partners to define the market and to innovate to its specifications, especially the defense industry, instead of telling that market what it needs.
On the plus side, this kind of flexibility toward development promises to spur innovations that will help first responders save lives and property. On the down side, business may play too large a role defining safety and security issues in ways that serve business rather than security, and are unlikely to heed other values that security systems can compromise—like our rights to privacy--as they develop new systems.
More on the actual systems later …
You can also see what other bloggers at the conference are saying: