DHS to spend $60m on R&D for new technologies

The Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate will spend $60 million on research and development of innovative border and maritime security technologies and border officer safety tools through fiscal 2011.

In the future, U.S. borders could be protected by buried fiber optic tripwires, advanced power sources and high-resolution listening devices, if projects now under way succeed.

The R&D spending is part of the directorate's strategic plan. A copy of the 197-page strategic plan, which includes an R&D plan for fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2011, was obtained by Washington Technology.

The bulk of that funding is to be spent in the first two years: $17 million this fiscal year, and $15 million in fiscal 2008, for border and maritime research.

The directorate's Border and Maritime Security Division is working on developing a network of advanced sensor and communication technologies through its Border Watch program, which supports SBInet. Starting in fiscal 2007, the activities will include development of a border protection grid with advanced sensor technologies utilizing advanced power sources and energy storage methods for use in remote locations, according to the spending plan.

Other projects the plan specifies to begin this year include:
  • A buried fiber optic tripwire system to sense intrusions and provide communications to remote locations
  • Prototypes of radar designs for border applications;
  • Electro-optic camera technologies.

The directorate also aims to develop, by fiscal 2008, a full-fledged integrated simulation model of the Secure Border Initiative to assist in decision making, investment strategies and policy formation. By fiscal 2011, the goal is to expand the model to include smuggling activity, customs and immigration needs and "SBI evolutionary needs."

Starting in fiscal 2009, the directorate will initiate its BorderTech program to develop, integrate and test sensor technologies in an operational environment. The technologies include high-resolution listening devices and other sensors for tunnel detection. The goal is to test the new sensor systems within SBInet and to include new sensors into SBInet by 2010.

The directorate also intends to conduct the NorthGuard pilot project in western Lake Erie to demonstrate the ability to combine advanced sensor fusion and tracking technologies for border and maritime use with a common operational picture. Initial development of Automated Scene Understanding and other visualization tools will begin next year.

Also included in the strategic plan is $56 million for cargo security research and development programs, $2 million for the Homeland Security Institute and $3 million for Small Business Innovation Research, through 2011.

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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