DHS formulates nine themes for its R&D efforts

The Homeland Security Department is taking a cross-sector approach to protecting the nation's critical infrastructure in a new national research and development plan recently released.

Rather than examining critical infrastructure by sector'such as by agriculture, financial services, energy, water or health care'the National Plan for Research and Development in Support of Critical Infrastructure Protection establishes nine themes to support all sectors, encompass physical and cyber concerns and to be integrated with other national security strategies.

It is organized around the themes of:
  • Detection and sensor systems
  • Protection and prevention
  • Entry and access portals
  • Insider threats
  • Analysis and decision support systems
  • Response, recovery and reconstitution
  • Emerging threats
  • Advanced architectures and system design
  • Human and social issues.

The 96-page national R&D plan, viewable on the DHS Web site, is the first annual version of an R&D road map required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, which identified 17 critical infrastructure sectors to be addressed.

'The use of a sector-based plan for examining operational issues is not appropriate for R&D, as it tends to create artificial repetition and loss of opportunity for integration,' the plan states.

Establishing priorities

It identifies eight major R&D priorities, including improvements to sensors, risk modeling and analysis systems, physical and cyber systems to detect and deter intrusions, large-scale situational awareness systems, secure architectures and human-technology interfaces.

The plan outlines three long-term goals:
  • A national common operating picture for critical infrastructure
  • A next-generation computing and communications network with security 'designed-in' rather than added after-the-fact
  • Resilient, self-diagnosing and self-healing physical and cyber infrastructure systems.

Alice Lipowicz writes for GCN's sister publication Washington Technology.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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