Battelle sees intelligence innovation

Battelle Memorial Institute's Technology Forecasts Web page

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Intelligence collection and analysis, predictive technologies, environmental sensors and noninvasive imaging lead a list of top 10 innovations in the war against terror, according to an Ohio-based research and development firm.

For the second year in a row, Battelle Memorial Institute has issued technology forecasts for homeland security. It has published forecasts in other sectors since the mid-1990s.

"They are exercises in thought leadership," said Stephen Millett, manager of Battelle's technology forecasts. He convened a group of experts to come up with the top 10 list. "This is our view of what's coming. We don't claim perfect foreknowledge, of course. We're delighted to hear other points of view."

In the coming decade, forward-looking intelligence will most likely have the greatest impact on the war against terrorism, he said.

"The technical term is 'anticipatory actionable intelligence,'" Millett said. "The ability to tap a wide variety of sources of information, the ability to fuse databases of sources of information into some kind of composite picture, the ability to do modeling simulations and anticipate attacks on the United States -- all of these are really hot topics and we see enormous potential in greatly enhancing this ability."

At the engineering level, the modeling and simulation aspects of the technology are impressive, but efforts to apply it to social systems still lag, he said.

Number two on the list is biological and chemical sensors, technology that R&D firms and industry leaders are developing. In addition, the federal government has a program called BioWatch in which sensors collect air samples in 30 unidentified cities across the country.

The third innovation on the Battelle list is noninvasive and nondestructive imaging for identifying contents in shipping containers, luggage and other sealed packages. For example, the researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs are studying emerging tetrahertz technology, or T-rays, while Russians are studying the use of neutron beams. Such technology is particularly needed for maritime security, Millett said.

"I don't think most people have any idea that perhaps our biggest challenge is maritime monitoring and the inspection of those crates," he said. "The ability to see inside shipping containers and seeing what's in there is a very exciting possibility."

Not all innovations are technology-based, but they could be technology related. Number six on the list is 21st-century public diplomacy. "What this says is we need to know our enemy very thoroughly. We also need to know how to communicate with this culture from which the enemy comes," Millett said.

Other innovations on the list:

Nonlethal directed energy weapons systems, such as the vehicle-mounted active denial system. It would be capable of stopping people and machinery and blocking or remotely triggering explosive devices.

Comprehensive space, air, land and sea monitoring for a more effective global surveillance system.

Electronically tracking money through software or tagging technology to stop the flow of terrorist funds.

Distributed forces and an interlocking network in which enabling technologies, such as minicomputers and communication networks, would transform military forces into distributed sensors, enabling them to provide information to command centers.

Encouraging public awareness and self-identification of terrorists through innovative applications of behavioral science, such as using a global system similar to the Amber Alerts for missing children to distribute multilingual information on known terrorists or featuring profiles on TV programs such as "America's Most Wanted."

Neutralizing explosive chemicals through a new generation of chemistry.


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