Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 2, 2006

Challenges for homeland security’s innovation cycle

Filed under: Business of HLS,Technology for HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 2, 2006

The LA Times writes today about the detection company Rapiscan Systems in the context of the larger challenge of developing new technologies for the homeland security market.

The last part of the story discusses the typical challenges that companies have faced in “crossing the chasm” from technology to deployment:

Some security experts said private industry was being shortchanged, forced to provide all of the upfront capital to fund technological advancements without a guarantee of success.

James E. Moore II, a faculty member at USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events and chairman of the university’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, said that the federal government should assume a portion of the financial risk by funding demonstration projects. That would ease some of the exploratory burden of technology development while ensuring that the equipment worked.

DHS has devoted significant resources toward funding demonstration projects, although it’s debatable whether the portfolio between longer-term research and near-term test projects has been appropriately balanced. But I think the greater problem with the R&D pipeline for homeland security has been the lack of clarity about what happens after demonstration projects: the process of converting successful projects into priorities that agencies want to champion and Congress wants to fund. That’s the real chokepoint now for a lot of good ideas that are awaiting broader deployment.

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