DHS seeks multipurpose technology

Homeland Security Department officials intend to fund the development of technology that can be used to fight not just terrorism, but other emergencies, too, according to chief information officer Steve Cooper.

Cooper, who spoke Tuesday at the Networked Economy Summit sponsored by George Mason University School of Law, told the gathering of industry officials that DHS is under a mandate from the Bush administration to develop multiple-use technology.

"It must be at least dual-purpose," he said.

Technology should be available for multiple uses because "I sure don't want to be looking up in a guide what to do for the first time when a terrorist emergency occurs," Cooper said.

"We would not want to rely on some solution used only for that purpose," he said.

Cooper, echoing sentiments from a speech he gave earlier this week, also said the federal government will have to provide the money for a national infrastructure to share information in the same way the government built the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

"The federal government needs to fund the backbone," he said, while state and local governments would be in charge of the "on- and offramps."

He also told conference attendees that DHS officials plan to have a virtual private network in place by December 2004.

"We do need to put one DHS infrastructure in place," Cooper said. "Some things we will keep. Some things we will throw away."

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