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DHS previews research topics for small biz

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is calling on entrepreneurs and small businesses to improve technology capabilities for DHS operations in emergency response, law enforcement, border protection and cyber risk management.

According to the Small Business Innovation Research program's presolicitation notice, DHS is looking for input on 10 research topics, ranging from improving identity management and detecting chemical, explosive and radiological threats to machine learning, network modeling and blockchain-based forensic analysis.

DHS is looking to improve "on-the-fly" identity management, with an eye to enhancing information sharing in emergency situations at the local and federal level. Interjurisdictional information sharing can be a roadblock in emergency situations, and more rapid identity, credentialing and access management systems are needed to help with both sharing and authenticating new users.

The office also wants to develop a peer-to-peer cybersecurity "lessons learned tool" that would share insights about successful cybersecurity risk management and other techniques. Although the agency said the National Institute of Science and Technology provides an effective framework for risk management, there is no realistic, day-to-day risk management tool that can capture and report the experiences of companies and connect them with comparable experience of other organizations and companies to manage risk.

In another cybersecurity risk management effort, the agency said it wants to develop network modeling capabilities to identify risks within networks and develop "what-if" capabilities to test those networks.

DHS is also interested in improving rapid DNA profiling for verification of kinship claims at border crossings and enhancing the technology's existing capability so that results of such DNA tests will stand up against scrutiny in court.

S&T also called for a chemical sensing capability that could be used to detect dangerous compounds in situations ranging from environmental monitoring to firefighting.  To help transportation security workers, DHS is looking to improve machine learning on millimeter wave body scanners and X-ray explosion detection systems.  For law enforcement, DHS wants to provide a blockchain forensics capability to help track cryptocurrency transactions.

Responses are due Dec. 18, with the final solicitation expected to follow soon after.

This article was first posted on FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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