Council urges DHS, Army partnership

The National Academies

Significant opportunities for collaboration exist between the Defense and the Homeland Security departments, particularly in developing technologies that first responders can use, according to a new report released by the National Academies' National Research Council.

The report — Army Science and Technology for Homeland Security — indicated there are many areas where defense and homeland security overlap. But "an extremely high correlation exists in the area of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," according to the report.

It recommends that Army officials should work with DHS to institutionalize a sharing process to collaborate in science and technology, create a research, development, testing and evaluation system to help first responders, and establish joint training and exercises, shared standards and interoperable systems.

For example, central to the development of the future Army is the concept of network-centric warfare (NCW). That allows warfighters to access all resources within a secure network, make more informed decisions, and use assets in a more efficient and effective way in real time.

Some network-centric capabilities are too complex or expensive, but there are other technologies that could benefit homeland security "and the concept of network-centric operations could provide a common framework for these technologies," according to the report. Emergency responders need command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities similar to those specified for the Army, according to members of the research council.

"The value of a network-centric approach suggests that individual emergency responder systems have much to gain from being linked and integrated into a national system of systems," the report states.

Emergency responders also can benefit from studying how the Army acquires technology. For example, spiral development is a process the Army uses to improve current capabilities by testing new technologies through a test unit in the field. Based on those results, the technology could be fielded to the entire force.

The report also pointed out that emergency responders do not have a formal research, development, testing and evaluation process even though there are efforts by other groups for creating standards and certifications of certain technologies. Other areas of collaboration include technology transfer and training, among others.

The document released this week is the second in a series of three reports sponsored by the U.S. Army.

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