DHS Tries to SECURE Innovation

By Matthew Harwood

Vicki Looney, general manager and vice president business development for Visual Defence USA, describes the SECURE certification as a simple way to market the cameras. The certification tells potential end users that the company’s solution will perform as advertised.

SECURE gives the first-responder community much needed peace of mind when purchasing new equipment and services that have met its criteria. Cellucci describes SECURE’s seal as a way to create a marketplace of vetted security technologies that first responders can purchase with confidence.

Companies also appreciate that SECURE is not a winner-take-all process. If 10 companies had passed the testing and evaluation phase during the BRAVE project, all 10 would have received SECURE certification. This approach also provides more SECURE-certified solutions to choose from.

Cellucci says that the BRAVE camera is proof that the government doesn’t have to completely underwrite a private company’s research and development to foster innovation. “And that’s what we’ve proven,” he says, although he’s careful to say that SECURE complements DHS’s acquisition process and doesn’t replace it.

That’s not to say that the government won’t kick in some funds even under the SECURE program where it makes sense. For example, the BRAVE camera’s testing required buses and trains to be blown up to test the equipment. It seemed impractical to have the company do that, given the logistical challenges and the cost, agree Cellucci and Looney. DHS enlisted the U.S. Army’s assistance in experiments that would try and destroy Visual Defence’s SecurEye camera with explosives and extreme temperatures.

SECURE, however, isn’t a perfect process yet, according to Looney. Though one of its objectives is speeding technology to market, speed is a relative term when it comes to government bureaucracy. It still took more than two years to certify SecurEye, even though the company had a working prototype within 90 days of entering the program.

Cellucci believes as the program matures, the Commercialization Office will certify products faster. He thinks some SECURE products will be in the hands of first responders in months, not years, from the time an ORD is issued to the time of its certification.

For companies who want to try their hand at making it through the process, more opportunities are coming, says Pete Ladowicz. The Commercialization Office has two new ORDs in the works, one on water purification and the other on interoperable communications. 






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