july 2018


Bomb Disarming with High- and Low-Tech Solutions

To ensure bomb technicians employ cutting-edge technology as they address evolving threats, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster, and more safely.


Tracking Progress in Public Health Genomics at CDC: A New CDC-Authored Genomics Publication Database

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Public Health Genomics, has launched a new CDC-Authored Genomics Publication Database. This new database is a valuable resource for CDC staff, providing its genomics community a portal to access scientific publications in genomics research and a means to track progress on this research at the CDC.


Developing Microrobotics for Disaster Recovery and High-Risk Environments

Imagine a natural disaster scenario, such as an earthquake, that inflicts widespread damage to buildings and structures, critical utilities, and infrastructure, as well as threatens human safety. Having the ability to navigate the rubble and enter highly unstable areas could prove invaluable to saving lives or detecting additional hazards among the wreckage. Partnering rescue personnel with robots to evaluate high-risk scenarios and environments can help increase the likelihood of successful search and recovery efforts, or other critical tasks while minimizing the threat to human teams.


Protecting and Promoting Public Health: Advancing the FDA’s Medical Countermeasures Mission

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s wide-ranging public health responsibilities include the vital role they play on the frontlines of national security by facilitating the development and availability of safe and effective medical countermeasures. The agency has recently taken steps to facilitate the development of medical countermeasures to protect Americans from smallpox, nerve agent, and certain insecticide poisonings, as well as the treatment of U.S. military personnel with severe or life-threatening hemorrhage.


HHS, DoD, Spero Co-Sponsor Novel Oral Antibiotic Development to Treat Deadly Infections

To combat deadly infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria or bioterrorism agents, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will partner with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Spero Therapeutics Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop a drug that could become the first oral antibiotic in its class.


S&T Supports Radiation Preparedness

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident identified a need for a systematic platform where accurate information could be easily shared. Since 2015, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fill that need. RadResponder is identified as the national system for radiation data aggregation and the standard resource for giving emergency managers a common operating picture.


Human Trafficking – A National Security Issue

by Richard Schoeberl & Benjamin Nivens -

The United States abolished slavery nearly 150 years ago. However, human exploitation through sex and forced labor remains a growing human rights violation and national security issue. Human trafficking is not prejudicial to nationality, age, gender, or socioeconomic status and is closer to home than most would like to consider. The exploitation and violation of human rights knows no boundaries and requires preparedness and response efforts from every country, every state, and every city.


Securing Communities as National Security Threats Evolve

by Catherine L. Feinman -

There is no quick fix for addressing all national security threats. Even if there were, it would still be challenging to keep up with the threat environment as it continually evolves at what seems to be exponential rates. The natural and manmade disasters of yesteryear are compounded with emerging cyber, technological, and other threats that once were only in the imagination of science fiction writers.


New Firefighter Cancer Registry Will Help to Monitor Cancer Incidents

On July 7, President Trump signed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018. The Act requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of firefighters. Information in the registry will be used to improve monitoring of cancer incidents among firefighters and to collect and publish information about the occurrences of cancer among this population.


Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence

The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) created this operational guide that provides actionable steps that schools can take to develop comprehensive targeted violence prevention plans for conducting threat assessments in schools.

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Center for Health Security Designs New Health Security Track for DrPH Program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security have developed a new degree track at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for US and international students who are passionate about taking a leadership role in preventing, detecting, and responding to epidemics and other disasters.


FDA Approves the First Drug With an Indication for Treatment of Smallpox

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved TPOXX (tecovirimat), the first drug with an indication for treatment of smallpox. Though the World Health Organization declared smallpox, a contagious and sometimes fatal infectious disease, eradicated in 1980, there have been longstanding concerns that smallpox could be used as a bioweapon.


Using Trauma-Informed Care to Guide Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) collaborated with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop a trauma-informed care training for CDC. SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care developed and led a new training for OPHPR employees about the role of trauma-informed care during public health emergencies. The training aimed to increase responder awareness of the impact that trauma can have in the communities where they work.


The Big Data Bind

by Daniel M. Gerstein -

The use of genealogy websites to find the alleged Golden State killer, Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to develop targeted ads for the 2016 presidential campaign, and the loss of privacy resulting from the sharing of information on social media bring into focus some of the unintended consequences of the collection, storage, and proliferation of personal information. The use of data in novel and unexpected ways pits users’ demand for privacy against their desire to take advantage of the many benefits today’s technology has to offer.


Three Ways AI Helps Prepare for Future Attacks

by Michael Ellenbogen -

Terrorist attacks and mass shootings have changed the threat landscape. In the old-world paradigm, planes were the target and metallic objects were the key concern. In the new-world paradigm, anything can be a target. Thus, the security response needs to shift from reactive to proactive. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the key to moving from a reactive to proactive security response. Three specific applications of AI in the physical security field enable organizations to prevent attacks, not just react to them.


Public Health Preparedness: Segment 2

In 2017, many natural and manmade disasters affected communities across the United States. Each of these disasters posed many public health challenges, including funding, interagency, and workforce issues. Two subject matter experts,  Director Cheryl Petersen-Kroeber from the Minnesota Department of Health’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response and Deputy Director Harry Bruce (Jeff) Jeffries Jr. from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Division of Health Protection, share their lessons learned from these disasters and provide insight on public health concerns that need to be addressed. This is Segment 2 of a two-part interview.

Click here to listen to Segment 1.


2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report

Following the 2017 hurricane season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted an after-action review of the agency’s preparations for, immediate response to, and initial recovery operations for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The resulting report captures insights from a historic hurricane season that will help the agency, the emergency management community, and the nation chart the path into the future.

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U.S. and Canada Kick Off Joint Next Generation First Responder Initiative With Artificial Intelligence Field Experiment

A new initiative kicks off to evaluate the use of artificial intelligence and situational awareness technologies during critical incidents. The effort is a joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and Canada’s Department of National Defence science and technology organization to ensure both American and Canadian next generation first responders are better connected, protected, and fully aware during critical incidents.


Improving Disaster Response Through Twitter Data

Twitter data could give disaster relief teams real-time information to provide aid and save lives, thanks to a new algorithm developed by an international team of researchers. A team of researchers from Penn State, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, and the Qatar Computing Research Institute created an algorithm that analyzes Twitter data to identify smaller disaster-related events, such as infrastructure damage or shelter needs, and generate highly accurate, real-time summaries that can be used to guide response activities.


FDA Takes Action to Support American Military Personnel by Granting an Authorization for Freeze-Dried Plasma Product to Enable Broader Access While the Agency Works Toward Approval of the Product

The U.S Food and Drug Administration announces that an emergency use authorization (EUA) has been granted to the U.S. Department of Defense to enable the emergency use of pathogen-reduced leukocyte-depleted freeze-dried plasma. The use of freeze-dried plasma is authorized for the treatment of hemorrhage or coagulopathy of U.S. military personnel during an emergency involving agents of military combat.


FLIR Announces identiFINDER R200-GN Spectroscopic Personal Radiation Detector With Neutron Capability

FLIR announces the FLIR identiFINDER® R200-GN spectroscopic personal radiation detector (SPRD). The rugged, pager-sized FLIR identiFINDER R200-GN SPRD can detect and identify neutrons, in addition to gamma radiation, allowing front-line responders to quickly determine whether there is a true radiation threat for safe, informed decision making.


2018 Business Resilience Conference, Las Vegas, NV

by Rodger (Kevin) Clark -

Today, businesses face many natural and manmade threats. Focusing on active shooter incidents alone, businesses are targeted more than any other entity. According to a 2014 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, between 2000 and 2013, most (45.6%) active shooter incidents occurred at businesses, with the next highest being education facilities (24.4%). To address these and other threats, business owners must have a continuity or emergency action plan that highlights mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.


Roadmap for Biosecurity and Biodefense Policy in the United States

This report presents a roadmap for implementing biosecurity and biodefense policy to leverage the capabilities of science and technology advances and minimize security risks. The roadmap contains detailed analyses of the overall system of U.S. biosecurity and biodefense policy, methodologies for evaluating successful implementation of policies, and historical case studies, which were used to develop an analytic framework for assessing potential opportunity costs of biosecurity policy requirements.

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HHS Enlists AktiVax to Develop Improved Auto-Injector for Nerve Agent Antidotes

One of the drugs stockpiled by the U.S. government to save lives from chemical nerve agents needs a new auto-injector so the drug can be used quickly and safely without specialized training if an attack occurs in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will work with AktiVax Inc. of Boulder, Colorado, on developing a new device to easily administer a drug that reverses damage inflicted by organophospates, a class of chemicals that include nerve agents such as Sarin and VX.


NIAID Responds to Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

On 8 May 2018, the DRC reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease – a serious and often fatal illness – in Équateur Province in the northwest part of the country. As the U.S. government’s lead agency on biomedical infectious disease research, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) is providing several layers of support to the DRC and World Health Organization, which are leading a global, multi-sectoral response to the outbreak. 


S&T Partners With New Innovators to Bring Smart Cities Technologies to First Responders

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and its research and development partners selected 13 U.S. and international companies to develop smart cities technologies to assist public safety. The research and development work will focus on in-building sensors, unmanned aerial systems, and on/off-body mobile SmartHubs, each of which will combine communications and sensors to increase responder situational awareness, build security, and enhance mission-critical operations.