Homeland watch: In brief

DHS hands out grants

IT companies are likely to get a portion of the $339 million in fiscal 2006 critical infrastructure grants awarded by Secretary Michael Chertoff last week and in July.
The money goes to state and local agencies for protecting buffer zones, chemical plants, rail systems, ports and buses, among others.

The funds are for counterterrorism equipment and training, including sensor and surveillance systems, perimeter security, detection systems, software and other IT projects.

However, Chertoff said Sept. 25 that no DHS funds will go for installing "seaward-facing radar" at ports, because such projects would duplicate what the Coast Guard has installed in many ports for maritime domain awareness.

Facial recognition at 60 feet?

Privately held American Barcode and RFID Inc. of Phoenix has created facial recognition technology that the company said can recognize people at a distance of 60 feet.

"Tetragate recognizes people approaching from 60 feet away in a fraction of a second, reading up to 60,000 faces in a single second ? without people knowing their images are being scanned," the company said in a press release.

The system would be used in combination with a biometric ID card to verify the identity of employees as they enter a workplace. Any mismatch would trigger a security check, the company said.

No stovepipes, please

With the SBI-Net border surveillance network moving forward, it would be
ideal if DHS could commit to open standards to facilitate information-sharing and integration with other departmental programs, Chris Josephs, homeland
security director for Cisco Systems Inc., said.

The integration would have to be done with safeguards to protect the data, including encryption, he said.

"If they build it to open standards, it could be integrated with existing systems," Josephs said. "Otherwise, it proprietary, and it's a stovepipe."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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