While acknowledging some positive efforts over the past year by the White House and Congress, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense says the incremental progress is not enough to defend against biological emergencies, let alone catastrophic events. Their report states that while the biological threat is real and continues to grow, our nation remains woefully under-prepared for dangerous biological incidents.
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense released its report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, in October 2015. This is the one-year follow-up of that report.
In a September article, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate asked if rural volunteer fire departments have unique needs, and if so, what S&T’s First Responders Group might do to address them. The volunteer firefighter community responded passionately with detailed emails and posts, which are detailed here.
The Biological Defense Research and Development (BDRD) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Homeland and National Security conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Nation's biological defense capabilities, identified homeland biodefense science and technology needs, and prioritized them. The most important needs are presented in this report.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Explosives Division has funded research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to continue development of the Incident Management Preparedness and Coordination Toolkit (IMPACT), a geospatial tool designed to enhance situational awareness, communication, and collaboration during and for security events.
The Action Plan, released concurrently with the Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy, details the activities, deliverables, and timelines that will be undertaken primarily by U S Federal agencies for the United States to make progress toward the Strategy’s goals.
The Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy, released concurrently with the National Electric Grid Security and Resilience Action Plan, details bilateral goals to address the vulnerabilities of the respective and shared electric grid infrastructure of the United States and Canada, not only as an energy security concern, but for reasons of national security.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group (FRG) is working to provide firefighters with a timely warning system that PPE failure is imminent. FRG is working with TDA Research, Inc. to develop the Burn Saver Thermal Sensor, a battery-powered device that will be carried by firefighters and detects thermal changes in their operating environments.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology announced the eighth cybersecurity technology transitioning to commercialization as a part of its Cyber Security Division’s Transition to Practice program. ZeroPoint, an exploit detection and analytics tool focuses on analyzing documents, email, web content and server traffic for potentially hazardous content known as exploit payloads.
After nearly a year of intense work, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) released a comprehensive review of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) use of intelligence to counter terrorist threats. The report provides an in-depth analysis of DHS’ intelligence structure and functions, offering more than 30 recommendations with regard to streamlining and enhancing DHS intelligence efforts.
Baltimore biotech firm, PathSensors Inc., announced the launch of its new Bioflash MailGuard™ mail security screening solution. The Bioflash MailGuard™ system provides a fast, highly accurate, easy to use and low-cost threat detection solution for government and commercial mail room operations that need to screen mail and packages for potential threats such as anthrax.
The year 2017 should be a great year for mobility and infrastructure in the United States. All signs are pointing to a robust economy, and policymakers are looking favorably on transportation projects – road, rail, air, public, private, and in between. In particular, the upcoming year will see a number of passenger rail projects moving forward.
The threats facing the United States in 2017 largely stem from the challenge and response cycle set in motion by the global rise of authoritarianism and violent fascism. Authoritarian leaders frequently promise to restore national pride and return people to their lost golden age: a mythical world in which life was thought to be better for the particular group. Scapegoating quickly follows, and violence is rarely far behind.
Responding to disasters is a critical function for first responders and the emergency management community. Rotary and fixed-winged aircraft have traditionally performed disaster response missions, such as overhead damage assessments, reconnaissance, and missing person searches. However, with the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems, there is an opportunity to perform conventional aerial missions in a safer, expeditious, and cost-effective manner.
The Ebola outbreak revealed weaknesses in global health and humanitarian responses that must be fixed. This report details an investigation conducted by the United States to determine how the response from intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations may change, or even cease, if an Ebola outbreak is determined to be intentional.
Stretching from Belgium to France, the United States to Iraq, the world has been blemished with terror attacks ranging from active shooter scenarios at entertainment venues, to plowing vehicles into crowded streets. Over the past decade, the United States has joined the global community of those exposed to the consequences and carnage associated with acts of terrorism.
A Northwestern University research team has developed a model that shows that earthquake clusters can occur on faults with long-term memory. The memory comes from the fact that the earthquake did not release all the strain that built up on the fault over time, so some strain remains after a big earthquake and can cause another.
Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. announced a milestone in its development program for PLX-R18, which is being evaluated as a medical countermeasure in the treatment of the hematologic components of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Mariana Leguia, Ph.D, head of the Genomics and Pathogen Discovery Unit at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 6 (NAMRU-6) in Lima, Peru, provides insight on how next generation sequencing technologies can be used to advance public health research and pathogen detection.
The U.S. Fire Administration and National Volunteer Fire Council have partnered to re-evaluate known issues, discover new or emerging concerns, and provide tools and resources to overcome health and safety concerns plaguing the volunteer fire service. This report identifies resources, provides references, suggests tools, illustrates best practices, and establishes goals and objectives to improve firefighter safety, well being, and survival.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Rutgers University a five-year grant for more than $19 million for research that would lead to the development of drugs to treat toxicity from chemical agents used in terrorist attacks.
Emergent BioSolutions Inc. announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is advancing its anthrax preparedness strategy with multiple contract actions for anthrax vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract actions reflect the government’s intention to transition the stockpile of anthrax vaccines from BioThrax to NuThrax beginning in 2019.
As the dust from the recent election settles, one of the first orders of business for the incoming Trump administration is a massive public infrastructure investment plan. Although the economic benefits associated with improved infrastructure are popular with many citizens and both sides of the political aisle, the real-world practicalities of ensuring positive economic return from such investments are nonetheless daunting.
The removal of criminal illegal aliens is a top priority for President-Elect Donald Trump. However, identifying, locating, processing, and deporting 3 million criminal aliens among the 20 million illegal aliens in the United States would completely overwhelm the removal process currently in place. One proposed program may help speed the processing of criminal aliens and prevent the deportation system from imploding.
The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) provides a solid set of guiding principles for homeland security actors to “build, sustain, and deliver core capabilities.” Perhaps most important to this process, exercise evaluators assess performance with regard to stated objectives and then identify and document areas of improvement for the tested capabilities.
To dramatically increase the effectiveness of small-unit combat forces operating in urban environments, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched its new OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET seeks to develop and demonstrate 100+ operationally relevant swarm tactics that could be used by groups of unmanned air and/or ground systems numbering more than 100 robots.
Applications are now being accepted for the NextGen First Responder Technologies solicitation jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security. The NextGen First Responder Technologies program is looking for innovations in fields such as protective clothing, wearable technology, and situational awareness.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels announced that the university is opening a new Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation in Discovery Park. The institute will work with Purdue’s other research centers and institutes to research areas such as advanced instrumentation, nanotechnology, social and behavioral sciences, big data analytics, and simulations to deliver integrated systems solutions to the nation’s security and defense communities.
Physicians at five U.S. medical centers are planning to enroll up to 400 children in a clinical trial to evaluate whether a shorter course of antibiotics is effective at treating community-acquired pneumonia. The clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will use an evaluation method developed by scientists who specialize in antibiotic resistance research.
At the first hints of a disease outbreak, epidemiologists, healthcare providers, policy makers, and scientists turn to predictive models to determine how an illness is spreading. A research collaboration between the New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering and Politecnico di Torino in Italy is yielding predictions that are simpler to calculate and more attuned to a hyper-connected world.
The measurable level of national planning and preparedness for a serious pandemic threat or biological attack continues to be a subject of great discussion, debate, and concern in the United States and around the world. This level of readiness continues to be a challenge as identified in regular studies, reports, and articles.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office was asked to report on the sustainability of the radiation portal monitors (RPM) fleet. This report provides information on: (a) Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) assessment of the condition of its RPM fleet and how, if at all, that assessment has changed over time; and (b) DHS’s plans for meeting detection requirements in the future.
By mimicking how dogs get their whiffs, a team of government and university researchers have demonstrated that “active sniffing” can improve by more than 10 times the performance of current technologies that rely on continuous suction to detect trace amounts of explosives and other contraband.
This report examines: (a) what emergency response information is carried on trains by selected railroads transporting hazardous materials and how responders use it; and (b) how selected railroads’ supplemental emergency response information compares to information in the Department of Transportation’s Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG).
A new bioinformatics platform called Empowering the Development of Genomics Expertise (EDGE) will help democratize the genomics revolution by allowing users to quickly analyze and interpret genomic sequence data. The ability to characterize organisms through accurately and rapidly comparing genomic data is an important part of Los Alamos’ national security mission.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate announced the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS) will be implemented in some North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member and partner countries as part of NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Project Advanced Regional Civil Emergency Coordination Pilot.