DHS offers example of type of program it wants industry to help field

A Homeland Security Department program that guards 30 cities against possible biological attack represents the high standard the federal government wants from its domestic defense projects, a DHS official said today.

The Biowatch program, which uses a sensor network and automated alerts to notify cities of bioterrorist threats, has not had a single false alarm since it came online a year ago, said Charles McQueary, undersecretary of Homeland Security for science and technology.

Biowatch 'is an example of a system ... with low false alarms,' McQueary said at a DHS industry forum in Washington. Although the monitoring sensors have not detected any biological attacks by terrorists, they have detected naturally occurring agents, he said.

McQueary described as enormous and daunting the task facing DHS in protecting the public from threats. 'It's impossible for DHS to guard against all possible threats,' he said.

Still, the department wants to move quickly to address any threat to domestic security, he said.

Industry participation is essential to the department's ability to do that'in areas ranging from border and airline security to cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection, McQueary said.

'We want a viable solution to prevent another attack on American soil,' he said.

William Welsh writes for Washington Technology magazine.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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