At the recent Fourth Annual DHS University Network Summit, the focus was on Intelligent Resilience and the work was impressive (and a bit mind numbing at times). Today’s channel business model is about to get its butt kicked up and down by a myriad of changes in thinking, planning and solving risks that threaten the U.S. Homeland. These include terror and ports; as well as the food supply chain and even climate change in the Arctic.
For example, if you work with ports and sell typical security solutions, you probably need to catch up on “audible arrays” that capture underwater sound, crush billions of data points in algorithms and identify divers from propellers or fish. The Center for Maritime, Island and Port Security at the University of Hawaii is about ready to bring this product to market. If your business is selling or servicing port security systems including technology that supports current diver or underwater camera programs, you are facing obsolescence. This is just a simple example of how DHS Science and Technology (S&T) is on fast-forward.
But what is your company doing about it? Are you first in line to be a certified installer and service provider for this product or the many others coming out of DHS S&T?
To understand how this complex and fluid DHS’ S&T is working, it is valuable to take a look at its network. Following the DHS focus on 18 areas of critical infrastructure, S & T has developed twelve Centers of Excellence (CoEs) at leading universities in the United States. It is the relationships and funding of innovation in our best universities that is driving the out-of-the box thinking, application of advanced technology and new solutions so quickly to mitigate the country’s greatest risks.
At the University of Connecticut, the Center for Resilient Transportation Infrastructure is reinventing our roads and bridges through “soil strengthening” and “ultra-high performance concrete” materials. Their goals are to create an intelligent transportation infrastructure that:
• Is capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
• Tends to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
DHS draws a big circle, of course, so using this system to reroute traffic, reduce delays, save gas and reduce our dependence on foreign oil is part of protecting the Homeland. But the terror side of protecting our railroad systems and bridges is paramount to their work.
As a channel company, you will need to understand much more than just that camera hanging over the road. These new solutions and technologies become part of the public market now and the private market soon after.
And if you believe that DHS is too big, too confused, to siloed and too bureaucratic to figure this out and get it right, please think again. Among its strengths are some very successful private sector executives “giving back” and leading the charge. Examples include Chief Commercialization Officer Tom Cellucci. His department helps non-government businesses bring their solutions to market for sale to DHS and helps DHS CoEs bring their innovations to market for the commercial sector.
The pipeline is very strong. Among the hundreds of new technologies and solutions submitted for the recent DHS University Network Summit, about 60 were exhibited by their inventors (mostly doctoral candidates).
This is not government business as usual. Indeed, it is exciting to participate in and threatening to the status quo. As Undersecretary of S&T Tara O’Toole explains, “Our goal is to create innovative solutions, on purpose.”
If you have a rainy Sunday in the coming weeks, take time to visit the DHS S&T Web sites, and especially the Centers of Excellence program sections. Even if doesn’t motivate you to update your business model, it may help you feel better about how $60 billion in tax money is being invested.