DISA leads group to integrate District-area terrorism response

Under the program, DISA will connect 16 military sites and some state and local organizations this year.

'DISA's Glenn Cooper

The Defense Information Systems Agency and a group of contractors are setting up a pilot to integrate federal, state and local law enforcement groups in the Washington, D.C., area to better deal with terrorist threats.

The Capital Area Defense Information Initiative pilot will run for 18 months beginning late this summer, said Glenn Cooper, assistant technical director for DISA's Homeland Security Command and Control Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, which is running the pilot.

DISA has issued contracts to IBM Corp. and Mitre Corp. of Bedford, Mass., for support on the project.

The pilot will eventually connect 40 to 60 military bases, federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Marshals Service, intelligence agencies and first responder organizations in 22 counties'from Maryland's Eastern Shore to Richmond, Va.

Pilot terminals

DISA also will connect 16 military sites and some state and local organizations this year. The service is expected to grow fourfold by early 2005, officials said.

Area Secure Operations Command and Control terminals will be installed at all locations running the pilot, officials said. ASOC2, a workstation that runs government software such as the Defense Collaboration Tool Suite, includes an alerting system and a graphical imagery system, Cooper said. It uses Java Imaging and Video Exploitation software known as JIVE, and it has a Web portal system as well.

'We incorporate these items into a workstation that can help people do their jobs more effectively,' Cooper said.

The terminals will use 18-inch, flat-panel displays connected to a Dell Inc. workstations with 1G of RAM, officials said.

'You have to devise interfaces so that people can pass information and data and collaborate effectively,' Cooper said. 'We're moving to a Web-based architecture. So we'll have components that can be integrated into anyone's system.'

The Washington area pilot is one component of DISA's homeland security demonstration, according to Jeff Gerald, the program's technical manager.

The project's 12 primary team members are contractors and government civil service personnel.
The Defense Department began operating Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations in the early 1990s to reform the lengthy acquisition process. The normal acquisition cycle took 13 years, and ACTDs were intended to cut three to five years off that time frame, Cooper said.

There are about four dozen ACTD projects that the Office of the Secretary of Defense is working on. Each is focused on a different target area, like homeland security.

Gerald said work began on the DISA concept in November 2001.

'Our activities are focused around two things: identifying existing or emerging technologies that support homeland security, and integrating those into concepts of operations that make the DOD more efficient and effective in dealing with homeland security,' Gerald said.

Let's talk first

The project has four main technology focuses:
  • Assured communications

  • Interoperability

  • Threat attribution and alerting

  • Command and control and coordination.

'The first thing we've got to do is get people talking together, and that's no easy task, although the DOD has done that very effectively between its services,' Gerald said.

'We do that all the way to the first responder. We said that as a benchmark. We wanted to be able to talk to the scene commander. So we've blended some of the traditional tactical-level communications all the way up to the strategic level,' he added.

The project will use IBM Corp.'s Directory Integrator to manage military directories. Directory Integrator is being 'folded into our technology to keep track of our players'who's involved in our networks,' Gerald said. 'Instead of having 17 to 25 different phone lists, it has that managed and integrated in a rational way for our work groups.'

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