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HOMELAND SECURITY

09 Jan 07. The British government is offering an e-mail bulletin service to notify people of changes to the nation’s terror threat level, a development that illustrates increasing fears of extremist attacks in Britain and the rising
power of digital communications. The domestic security agency, MI5, announced the new service Tuesday and said it will also provide e-mail bulletins on “major developments in national security affairs.” It plans to add a service providing the same information in text messages to cellphones, officials said. People would have to register on the MI5 Web site to receive the alerts. (Source: Washington Post)

09 Jan 07. Science Applications International Corporation announced a contract from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection, to install three VACIS(R) P7500 container inspection systems in support of the Secure Freight Initiative international pilot program. SAIC’s VACIS(R) P7500 inspection system is a compact, high-energy X-ray- based portal container inspection system designed to image dense cargo in high-volume throughput operations. SAIC’s patented drive-through technology scans only the cargo, allowing drivers to safely drive through the access control area during scanning operations, enhancing throughput and operational simplicity. The VACIS(R) P7500 imaging system can scan up to 150 containers per hour in free-flow operation (depending on operator training and other conditions). (Source: ASD Network)

03 Jan 07. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released scorecard assessments of interoperable communications capabilities in 75 urban and metropolitan areas nationwide. Interoperable communications involve policies, technology and training that enable law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services from multiple jurisdictions in a common community to effectively communicate within one hour of an incident. “The 9/11 Commission identified interoperable communications as a major challenge and many communities listened by taking the sometimes difficult steps necessary to close communication gaps among first responders,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Their experience proves that basic interoperability at the command level is achievable. We’re committed to making this a priority in every major urban area, and we’ll continue to push for closing these gaps by the end of 2008.” Since 2003, DHS has awarded $2.9 bn in funding to enhance state and local interoperable communications efforts. While scorecard findings will not directly impact homeland security grant funding, it is expected that eligible communities will use the scorecard to target their investment justifications and improve interoperable communications capabilities. The reviews focused on three main areas: Governance (leadership and strategic planning); Standard Operating Procedures (plans and procedures); and Usage (use of equipment). The evaluation criteria was derived directly from the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum and Interoperability Maturity Assessment Model that depicts the key components of interoperability — governance, standard operating procedures, usage, technology, and training and exercises. The findings identify gaps and areas for improvement. Key findings include:: Policies for interoperable communications are now in place in all 75 urban and metropolitan areas. Regular testing and exercises are needed to effectively link disparate systems and facilitate communications between multi-jurisdictional responders (including state and federal). Cooperation among first responders in the field is strong, but formalized governance (leadership and strategic planning) across regions is not as advanced. The scorecards illustrate the current capability for each area and provide recommendations for improvement. The reviews were conducted by five panels of subject matter experts composed of state and local public safety and communications technology expert

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