Emerging Threats to Rail Infrastructure: Part I, Freight | Domestic Preparedness Photo: ©iStock.com/af_istocker
Commentary

Emerging Threats to Rail Infrastructure: Part I, Freight

by Joseph Trindal -

There is a desire for some bad actors to target rail systems, especially the hazardous materials freight rail network. This threat underscores the need for the rail transportation industry to maintain and strengthen partnerships with federal, state, and local authorities. With over 140,000 miles of infrastructure, there are difficult security challenges. For example, the U.S. rail system moves over 1.8 billion tons originated/year of freight, petroleum, chemicals, and military assets, making it a vital lifeline. A recent roundtable examined current issues and progress regarding this important topic from government and private sector experts.

 
Resilience

10 Questions for Selecting Business Continuity Software

by Erin Valentine -

Being resilient when faced with an emergency or catastrophic event requires preplanning to ensure that operations can continue with minimal interruption throughout the event or restart soon after the event. Business continuity software can help bridge the continuity gap during these times. Answering these 10 questions before purchasing will help ensure a good match between the software and the user.

Preparedness

Indiana’s Emergency Response Guidelines for School Safety

by Robert Quinn -

The 2016 Legislative Session of the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 147 requiring the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) to establish minimum standards and approve best practices no later than 1 July 2017 for a school emergency response system. The new guidelines are helping to improve school safety and security across the state and offer a template for other states to consider when reviewing and updating their emergency response systems.

Commentary

Remember the Past, While Imagining the Future

by Catherine L. Feinman -

The imaginations of television and filmmakers are often used to create futuristic worlds, with technologies that can be used as tools or as threats. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are one such technology that is now off the screen and often seen in the sky. Like “The Jetsons” of the early 1960s, the airways offer many opportunities to transport people and objects from one place to another. With increased travel and transport, though, emergency preparedness, response, and resilience professionals must address the potential benefits of this technology as well as regulations and enforcement issues that could hinder daily and disaster operations. In a worst-case scenario, terrorists could conduct attacks using UAS equipped with explosives, weapons, or dispersal devices for chemical, biological, or radiological materials.

Healthcare

Biothreats – Advocating Action Through Transition

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

On 15 November 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter report to the president on “Action Needed to Protect Against Biological Attack.” PCAST urged the president for immediate action to ensure that the nation has the ability to meet these challenges with near-, medium-, and long-term goals. It is critical that the recommendations in this letter are conveyed to the current administration, and not lost in transition.

Resilience

Freight Rail Safety and Emergency Management

by Kay C. Goss -

During the second week of October 2017, the DomPrep Journal hosted and Draeger sponsored a series of presexxntations and discussions, which included most of the major federal agencies engaged in freight rail safety and security, as well as the American Association of Railroads. To add to that discussion, several states have made significant contributions to freight rail safety. Three major state and local emergency management agencies that have made these major strides in rail safety and security are described here.

Preparedness

Protecting the Homeland From Nefarious Drone Use

by Richard Schoeberl & Kendall J. Smith -

Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen and graduate of Northeastern University, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011 for supporting al-Qaida and plotting to fly a motorized airplane – loaded with explosives and controlled by a global positioning system (GPS) – into the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon. Though the FBI insists the public was “never in danger,” the threat of a terrorist attack via unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology is increasing. If someone other than FBI undercover agents supplied explosives to Ferdaus, the story would have been very different.

Updates

DHS S&T is Enhancing the Autopsy Digital Forensics Tool

Autopsy–an open-source, digital forensics platform used by law enforcement agencies worldwide to determine how a digital device was used in a crime and recover evidence–is being enhanced with the addition of several new capabilities requested by law enforcement.

Military Seeks to Learn Lessons of 2017 Hurricane Season

Following the recent hurricane season, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the commander of U.S. Army North, said hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria delivered a combination of blows that caused great damage in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and the military learned a great deal about defense support to civil authorities in the process.

TSA and LA MTA Partner on a Demonstration Project of a New Device to Detect Suicide Vests

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is partnering with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) on a new device that can help officials detect whether an individual is concealing an improvised explosive device. The use of such a device enables a transit agency to help safeguard against terrorist threats in the mass transit environment.

Federal Resources Acquires Wright Tool Company

Federal Resources, headquartered in Stevensville, MD, completed the acquisition of Wright Tool Company, a leading provider of automotive and industrial equipment and tools, based in Troy, MI. Federal Resources, a prime supplier of defense and security solutions to United States and international governments, is expanding its products and services to include maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO).

Gene-Based Zika Vaccine Is Safe and Immunogenic in Healthy Adults

Results from two Phase 1 clinical trials show an experimental Zika vaccine developed by government scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is safe and induces an immune response in healthy adults.