National Security and Intelligence
|Summary of a Workshop on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management
Section 214 of the E-government Act of 2002 called on the Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to "ensure that a study is conducted on using information technology to enhance crisis preparedness, response, and consequence management of natural and manmade disasters." The section cited as a goal "to improve how information technology is used in coordinating and facilitating information on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, while ensuring the availability of such information across multiple access channels." In early 2005, FEMA, via a subcontract through Battelle Memorial Institute, asked the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a two-phase study on these issues.
Summary of a Workshop on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management culminates phase 1 of the project. CSTB established the Committee on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management, and a public workshop was held under the committee's auspices on June 22-23, 2005. The committee's goal for the workshop was to establish a base of information for its study by hearing about present and future uses of
IT from the perspective of federal, state, and local disaster management officials and users together with a sampling of relevant IT research and development activities.
A variety of representatives of federal, state, and local government agencies, private industry, and the research community participated. Panelists at the workshop presented a range of views on the present state of the art and practice and future opportunities to harness information technology to aid in the management of natural and human-made disasters. This report summarizes some of the key points made by workshop participants. This report also contains the workshop agenda and includes biographical information for committee members and staff.
In phase 2 of its study, the committee will supplement the inputs received at the workshop with information gathered at several site visits and a series of additional briefings. Phase 2 will culminate in a final report, expected in spring 2006, which provides findings and recommendations on requirements for effective use of information technology for disaster management, research and development needs and opportunities, and related research management and technology transition considerations.
|Sensor Systems for Biological Agent AttacksProtecting Buildings and Military Bases
Over the last ten years, there has been growing concern about potential biological attacks on the nation’s population and its military facilities. It is now possible to detect such attacks quickly enough to permit treatment of potential victims prior to the onset of symptoms. The capability to “detect to warn”, that is in time to take action to minimize human exposure, however, is still lacking. To help achieve such a capability, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the development path for “detect to warn” sensors systems. This report presents the results of this assessment including analysis of scenarios for protecting facilities, sensor requirements, and detection technologies and systems. Findings and recommendations are provided for the most probable path to achieve a detect-to-warn capability and potential technological breakthroughs that could accelerate its attainment.
|Defending the U.S. Air Transportation System Against Chemical and Biological Threats
Historically, most terrorist attacks on civilian targets have involved the use of firearms or explosives, and current defensive strategies are aimed at preventing attacks perpetrated by such means. However, the use of the nerve agent sarin in 1995 to attack the Tokyo subway system, the use of the U.S. mail in 2001 to distribute letters containing anthrax spores, and the discovery in 2004 of the biological toxin ricin in U.S. Senate Office Buildings in Washington, D.C., demonstrate that chemical and biological agents have been added to terrorists' arsenals. Attacks involving chemical/biological agents are of great concern, not only because of the potential for mass casualties but also because there is no strategy or technology fielded today that can respond adequately to this threat. As the United States and other countries reassess the security measures they have in place to prevent or defend against such attacks, the risks to the air transportation system as a primary target become clear. Defending the U.S. Air Transportation System Against Chemical and Biological Threats is an exploration of defensive strategies that could be used to protect air transportation spaces (specifically, airport terminals and aircraft) against attack with chemical or biological agents and makes recommendations with respect to the role of TSA in implementing these strategies.
|Summary of a Workshop on the Technology, Policy, and Cultural Dimensions of Biometric Systems
Biometrics—the use of physiological and behavioral characteristics for identification purposes—has been promoted as a way to enhance security and identification efficiency. There are questions, however, about, among other issues, the effectiveness of biometric security measures, usability, and the social impacts of biometric technologies. To address these and other important questions, the NRC was asked by DARPA, the DHS, and the CIA to undertake a comprehensive assessment of biometrics that examines current capabilities, future possibilities, and the role of the government in their developments. As a first step, a workshop was held at which a variety of views about biometric technologies and systems were presented. This report presents a summary of the workshop’s five panels: scientific and technical challenges; measurement, statistics, testing, and evaluation; legislative, policy, human, and cultural factors; scenarios and applications; and technical and policy aspects of information sharing. The results of this workshop coupled with other information will form the basis of the study’s final report.