Report: In a crisis, interoperability is critical

The Homeland Security Department should focus its IT architecture efforts on interoperability rather than technology, according to an industry trade group.

The homeland security task force of the Government Electronics and IT Association studied last year's investigation of the Washington-area sniper attacks for potential lessons in IT deployment during a crisis.

The GEIA task force found "a well-defined and executed relationship between the available information technology tools and law enforcement officers" in the sniper case. This was in large part because Montgomery County, Md., police shared its stockpile of wireless telephones with other agencies.

Other lessons learned include "rapid access to a working integrated technology infrastructure" and the inclusion of IT and logistics in planned disaster drills, the study said.

The report also called for establishing a "virtual command post model" for secure interagency communications.

GEIA's homeland security task force included representatives of Computer Sciences Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., Verizon Federal Markets and several other companies. The task force also examined news reports and interviewed seven Montgomery County law enforcement officials.

GEIA will present the task force report to DHS.

Patricia Daukantas writes for Government Computer News

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