Industry leaders weigh in on local priorities

What can industry bring to the table for homeland security at the state and local levels? With much of the funding and strategy still to be decided, there is no clear market yet for particular products and solutions.

But the private sector has significant experience in helping the federal government with similar solutions, many of which could be capitalized on once

the specific requirements for local homeland security initiatives are more clearly articulated.

For example, officials at Northrop Grumman Information Technology see

potential in repackaging the kind of

secure communications solutions the company provides to the Defense

Department.

Those tools are directly applicable to the kind of secure data links governments are looking to establish with one another, according to Cheryl Janey, vice president of Northrop Grumman IT's state and local programs. The challenge lies in defining the issue correctly, she said, because a state defines secure communications differently than a federal intelligence agency does.

Company officials also plan to expand Northrop Grumman IT's Modeling, Simulation and Analysis Center — mainly used by DOD and intelligence agencies until now — for use by state and local governments.

Convincing people that homeland security should not be allowed to turn into another "stovepiped" area of government is important with any solution, according to Eric Greisdorf, director of vertical markets for Information Builders' iWay Software subsidiary.

Any homeland security solution should be seen simply as an extension of other programs, he said.

That's also the approach taken by e-business company SAP, whose solutions are widely used by government agencies.

The need for collaboration among governments leads to the notion of an infrastructure that will enable the correct information to get to the right people at the right time, said Tom Shirk, president of SAP Public Services. "And it's our contention [that] that can be done by leveraging the technologies that governments and municipalities already have in place."

Web portals can be used to integrate people and their roles, data repositories can be used to analyze trends across agency borders, and processes can be defined using Extensible Markup Language so data can be exchanged across different environments, Shirk said.

"Most government agencies are at an early stage in their adoption of homeland security," he said. "They're not aware of what they already have and how they can leverage it."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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