DHS Tries to SECURE Innovation

By Matthew Harwood

A new camera designed to withstand a bomb blast and preserve the video evidence of the crime scene is noteworthy not only for what it can do but also for how it came about: It is the first technology certified under a public-private partnership aimed at facilitating the move from innovation to commercialization.

The System Efficacy through Commercialization Utilization Relevance and Evaluation program (SECURE) is a “novel, cost-effective, and efficient” way to get companies to develop affordable and ground-breaking security solutions for first responders, explains Dr. Thomas A. Cellucci, creator of SECURE and the chief commercialization officer at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, which runs the program.

S&T documentation describes the program as a “win-win-win” situation for DHS, the private sector, and the taxpayer. That’s because, unlike DHS’s traditional acquisition model, SECURE provides little or no taxpayer money to the companies competing to produce a security technology or service identified by DHS as being needed to fill a critical capability gap.

In the case of the camera, the product filled the need for Blast Resistant Autonomous Video Equipment (BRAVE) that could be used in city transportation systems. The camera system, produced by Visual Defence USA, Inc., and called SecurEye, is built to survive a terrorist attack on a ground transportation target and provide investigators with evidence of what happened as the bomb went off.

For each project, S&T posts online a detailed list of capabilities that a SECURE-certified solution must meet, known as the operational requirement document (ORD), as well as a conservative estimate of the solution’s potential market value. This allows companies to make a business case for pursuing the SECURE certification with their own resources, says Cellucci, because S&T expects a big market to arise for SECURE-certified solutions if companies successfully execute the ORD.

To earn certification, companies must build a prototype that complies with the ORD’s specifications, using their own money and, then, have the solution independently tested and evaluated, again using their own money most of the time. If the company’s product passes the testing and evaluation phase overseen by S&T, it receives SECURE certification, or what S&T Spokesman John Verrico likens to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

  (To continue reading "DHS Tries to SECURE Innovation," from the October 2011 issue of Security Management, please click here)

photo by zombieite/flickr


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