Washington Technology readers remember 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States was changed forever when terrorists commandeered commercial aircraft and crashed them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. In observance of the five-year anniversary of this tragedy, Washington Technology invited readers to share their thoughts about it by answering these questions:
  1. How has your life changed?

  2. How has your company or your customer changed?

  3. What were you doing then?

  4. What are you doing now?

  5. What impact have the attacks had on the marketplace and your competitors?

Below are some of the replies we received.

To comment, please click here and submit your thoughts. Please include your name, the company you work for and the region of the country where you are located. We will post the responses beginning Sept. 5.

Innovation is part of the answer

As so many Americans I was sitting in my house in Washington watching the news that morning wondering about how the world will change. The swift government response with military might was easy to anticipate and I also remember the many calls for private sector involvement from Capitol Hill over the following days.

However, this outreach to the private sector involved only the large companies and not the small entrepreneurs ? the truest innovators out there. Working at IBM for the last three years, I saw that there are problems specific to entrepreneurs working with the public sector: Start-ups have to overcome not only technological but also bureaucratic obstacles to market their ideas.

So I left my job to go back to school to find a way to mitigate this problem for security entrepreneurs worldwide. London Business School provided me not only with the knowledge but also the chance to meet like-minded students with whom I share this mission to transform a market controlled by staid defense contractors into a more innovation driven market where entrepreneurs can add their ideas to make us safer.

The Global Security Challenge, is the only startup competition in the world (to my knowledge) to foster innovation in security technology. It is run by MBA students at the London Business School and the purpose of the competition is first to make citizens safer without encroaching on civil liberties and second, to support business creation by entrepreneurs.

I acknowledge how hard it is for governments to reach out to every guy tinkering in his garage. And there are a few excellent programs aimed at acquiring technologies such as NATO's Defense Against Terrorism project or the Pentagon's Technical Support Working Group, which solicits proposals from a broad segment of the private sector on counterterrorism technology. But these groups are limited in the number of innovators they can reach.

The biggest challenge is getting visibility on all the potentially useful technologies out there. My group, the Global Security Challenge, has received many innovative business plans from entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, Asia and Eastern Europe. These plans deal with technology solutions in secure communications, contingency, data integrity, chemical detection, biometrics, access control and bio-technology.

For us, our initiative is a measured response to the terror threats we are facing every day and an innovative way of advancing technology in this important sector. At the end of the day what I hope is that we have succeeded in unearthing innovative technologies from entrepreneurs from around the world and hopefully make life a little easier for those who oppose terrorism.

Simon Schneider


Global Security Challenge

London Business School


Protecting freedoms is paramount

In a free society, acts of terrorism will be the ultimate challenge to the core of our values. Giving up personal freedoms via the Homeland Security Act is not the answer, and trying to defeat an enemy that has over a 2000-year history of bloody fighting must be changed to fight smarter not harder. The information for 9/11 was there but it was ignored, and the price was high for this complacent attitude.

The Iraq occupation is a prime example of fighting hard, it does not make sense and is a waste. It has not stopped the terrorist core, so it makes sense to stop the action in Iraq and fight terrorists in a different way, using the global community as an ally, not an adversary. Armed conflict is not the answer, so why is the US public so dense in this regard?

Gilbert Armendariz

A new perspective

On that day I had been scheduled to interview for a new position. There was a congressionally funded program through Defense Department and Office of Naval Research, which had been created to advance technologies for homeland security and defense, prior to 9/11.

The program called the Center for the Commercialization of Advanced Technologies, CCAT, was housed at San Diego State University. During my interview, there was a knock on the door, and we were asked to evacuate. At that time while we knew what had occurred back east, we didn't know if the attacks were going to continue.

On Oct. 1, I started working as the CCAT program administrator. I have worked in homeland security since then. I work with brilliant scientists and engineers who have a passion for inventing life-saving technologies. I don't look at anything the same anymore. I realize that we are vulnerable, and our lives fragile at best. I don't take anyone in my life for granted. Through some bizarre coincidence I started working in homeland security from the beginning and I hope I am making a difference.

Carey Harrington


Defense Technology Analysts, Inc.


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