Industry's emerging role in homeland defense

Commercial technology'including Web portals and voice over IP'will play a key role in the Herculean task of smoothing the flow of information among federal, state and local agencies involved in homeland security, an Air Force IT leader said today.

'More and more of our information technology base is, in fact, off the shelf,' said Air Force Maj. Gen. Dale W. Meyerrose, director of architectures and integration for the U.S. Northern Command.

Meyerrose was among the speakers at the SGI Homeland Security and Defense Summit, an industry-sponsored conference in Washington that showcased emerging and existing technologies that can be used in homeland security.

They included software that provides a three-dimensional map of cities, disaster management simulation software and a system that collects and collates reams of paper, phone calls and other communications to help first-responders make better decisions in emergencies.

One of Meyerrose's missions is to provide a 'trusted network environment' that includes commercial software and systems and can link myriad agencies.

'We need to be as inclusive as we can because, given any situation or particular geographic location, we cannot determine who is going to be there, who we need to interface with, so we have to be as inclusive as possible,' Meyerrose said following his afternoon address. 'It will be my tendency, particularly in my area, to be as commercial-based as possible and have as few proprietary applications on top of that.'

The U.S. Northern Command, established earlier this year by the Defense Department, consolidates homeland defense, disaster assistance and civilian missions under one umbrella. Meyerrose said there are about 200 workers at Northcom and the command will have about 600 when fully staffed. It is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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