december 2016

Updates

Incremental Progress Not Enough To Handle Biological Emergencies, Let Alone Catastrophic Events

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.

Reports

Biodefense Indicators – One Year Later, Events Outpacing Federal Efforts to Defend the Nation

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.

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Updates

Rural Volunteer Fire Departments Face Specific Challenges

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.

Reports

Homeland Biodefense Science and Technology Capability Review

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. 

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Updates

S&T Releases New Incident Management Planning Tool for First Responders

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.

Reports

National Electric Grid Security and Resilience Action Plan

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. 

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Reports

Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy

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.

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Updates

Burn Saver Thermal Sensor Provides Warning for Firefighter Safety

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.

Updates

DHS S&T Transition to Practice Program Transitions Eighth Cybersecurity Technology for Commercialization

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.

Reports

Reviewing the Department of Homeland Security’s Intelligence Enterprise: Fighting Terrorism by Addressing Key Gaps

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. 

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Commentary

Authoritarianism & the American Response: 2017 Forecast

by Christopher Milburn -

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.

Resilience

Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Emergency Management

by Darren E. Price -

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.

Updates

PathSensors Launches Low Cost, High Speed Anthrax and BioThreat Detection Solution for Mail Security Screening

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.

Preparedness

The Year of the Railway Station

by Steven Polunsky -

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.

Reports

The 2014-2015 Ebola Outbreak: Lessons for Response to a Deliberate Event

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.

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Preparedness

Bombing an Ideology: No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

by Richard Schoeberl -

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.

Updates

Earthquake Faults Are Smarter Than We Usually Think

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.

Updates

Pluristem’s PLX-R18 Advances Into Second Cohort of Dose Selection Study for Treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome

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).

Updates

NAMRU-6 Researcher Shows What Next Generation Sequencing Technologies Can Do

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.

Reports

Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service

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. 

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Updates

Rutgers Receives $19 Million to Develop Drugs to Treat Chemical Weapons Attacks

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.

Commentary

Noncriminal Alien Self-Identification Program

by Armin Cate -

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.

Preparedness

Tomorrow’s Emergency Management Capabilities

by Jeffrey Kaliner -

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.

Updates

Emergent BioSolutions to Support HHS Anthrax Preparedness Strategy With Up to $1 Billion in BioThrax Deliveries to the Strategic National Stockpile

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.

Resilience

Making the Grid Great Again

by J. Michael Barrett -

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.

Updates

OFFSET Envisions Swarm Capabilities for Small Urban Ground Units

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.

Updates

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Call for Proposals on Advanced First Responder Technologies

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.

Updates

Global Defense and Security Institute Launched at Purdue

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.

Updates

NIAID-Sponsored Study to Assess Shorter-Duration Antibiotics in Children

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.

Updates

Hacking Epidemics in a Hyper-Connected World

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.

Reports

Radiation Portal Monitors: DHS's Fleet Is Lasting Longer Than Expected, and Future Acquisitions Focus on Operational Efficiencies

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.

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Healthcare

Preparing for a New Pandemic With an Old Plan

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

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.

Updates

Sniffing Like a Dog Can Improve Trace Detection of Explosives

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.

Reports

Hazardous Materials Rail Shipments: A Review of Emergency Response Information in Selected Train Documents

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).

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Updates

EDGE Bioinformatics Brings Genomics to Everyone

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.

Updates

NATO Adapts NICS, a Communications Platform for First Responders

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.