Homeland goes interstate route
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Oct 28, 2002
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers
If you're having a hard time envisioning what the national strategy for
homeland security would look like, try using the interstate highway system,
built more than 50 years ago, as an example.
That's what Steve Cooper, senior director of information integration
and chief information officer for the White House Office of Homeland Security,
told attendees at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers
in St. Louis on Oct. 28.
Cooper said that Lois Clark McCoy, president of the National Institute
for Urban Search and Rescue, told him several weeks ago that "national"
wasn't the best term to describe the homeland security strategy and suggested
another description: an "interstate communications expressway."
Cooper said that "national" conjures up a hierarchy, while "interstate
isn't politically charged to anybody."
In essence, an interstate communications expressway means linking networks
with each other to create a "network of networks," he said. "So . . . we
really don't have to start from scratch."
He said the "communications expressway" would be different from the
"A lot of what we need to do for homeland security needs to be secure.
The Internet's not. But the reality is that an awful lot of what travels
over the Internet is lost. It never gets there," Cooper said.
"We would envision something along the lines of a virtual private network
or some type of secure type of network," he continued. "And we will use
portions of the Internet, but we will encrypt information and we will add
capabilities so that what travels across is secure in and of itself as it's
Cooper said the federal government would help build the "on-ramps" to
an interstate communications expressway, but that state and local governments
must have systems adhering to certain national standards and be architecturally
However, Georgia Technology Authority CIO Larry Singer said that to
develop an interstate communications system, states must have a strong intrastate
system, requiring a collaboration between government and industry.