Cecom pitches virtual environment

The Army has many technologies and ideas that could help first responders do their jobs better in disaster situations, and the service thinks it has found the perfect place to collaborate with the entire homeland security community: cyberspace.

A "Web-based homeland security integrated virtual environment," could be used to bring together federal agencies, state and local governments, Defense Department commands, academia and industry players to work through obstacles facing the nation's first responder communities, said Michael Albarelli, director of homeland security at the Army Communications-Electronics Command (Cecom), Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Speaking Sept. 11 at the Homeland Security and National Defense Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J., Albarelli said the integrated virtual environment could be used not only to collaborate on ideas, but for system engineering work focused on interoperability, modeling and simulations, and more.

Cecom has kicked off the effort by beginning work with the New Jersey National Guard's battle laboratory in a Web-based collaborative environment, Albarelli said.

"If we could do this right, we could get federal, state and local communities...doing exercises and training together," he said, adding that could eventually eliminate the need to do tabletop examples before launching live exercises, and enable interested parties to participate from anywhere, even at their home computer, depending on the nature of the information.

Albarelli said he realizes that funding is an issue, and will remain one in the future, "but money does not equal success; focused investment does." He added that the integrated Web-based homeland security environment could help drive down costs through the increased collaboration of all the involved parties determining needs and requirements before deciding on acquisitions and actions.

The symposium sponsors are Cecom, the Association of the U.S. Army's Fort Monmouth, N.J., chapter, the Association of Old Crows' Garden State chapter, and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Fort Monmouth chapter.

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