A look at future homeland security technology

Knowledge management, electronic surveillance, biometric shield

Knowledge management

* Government intelligence and law enforcement officers will have secure access to structured information (databases) and unstructured information (reports, presentations, e-mail messages) from other agencies as needed.

* Pattern-recognition software will comb through enormous sets of data looking for links and patterns — to investigate and analyze events that already happened and, more importantly, to try to predict those that have not yet occurred.

Electronic surveillance

* Internet wiretap equipment, deployed in advance but on stand-by, can be activated remotely by law enforcement officials using a digital certificate that validates the court warrant authorizing the tap, reducing the time it takes to begin eavesdropping on suspect communications.

* Sophisticated network traffic analysis software can analyze the flow of communications, even those in which the content might be encrypted, to help identify associates of terrorist suspects and better understand their operations.

* To crack suspicious encrypted communications, powerful quantum computers can decipher the electronic keys used to scramble the messages.

Biometric shield

* Facial-recognition systems deployed at key locations such as border crossings, customs offices and airline boarding gates will scan faces and look for matches to images of suspected terrorists stored in government databases.

* Widely deployed iris scanners and fingerprint readers will be used in conjunction with smart cards and public-key infrastructures to control physical access to facilities such as airport baggage areas and power plants.

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