The Business Of Homeland Security May Top $100 Billion

June 16, 2003
Demand for new technologies and system upgrades due to heightened homeland-security concerns may create a $100 billion industry over the next several years.

Demand for new technologies and system upgrades due to heightened homeland-security concerns may create a $100 billion industry over the next several years. With more than 170,000 employees and several very large agencies now under its umbrella (including the Customs Service, Secret Service, Coast Guard, and Border Patrol), the Department of Homeland Security expects to receive more than $41 billion in FY2004, or about 64% more than it got just two years ago. Only about $8 billion of that is earmarked for science and technology. But add in spending from local, state, and private corporations, and the amount of spending almost triples that of the federal budget.

Several independent market research organizations tally the market for U.S. technology products and services at more than $98 billion. The Homeland Security Research Corp. predicts that overall spending on domestic security will climb to $180 billion in 2008.

One problem, says intelligence and analysis firm Provizio (, is that vendors who support homeland security will have to figure out how to sell their products or services to a specific agency. Despite the huge market projections, the market is fragmented with no centralized procurement for homeland-security technologies. Provizio believes this can actually be a good thing: "With the fragmented market, vendors are able to target multiple customers within various agencies and levels of government," it says. Yet long sales cycles within multiple potential clients will increase vendors' costs of sales.

The federal government has already signaled where it might spend millions on big-ticket items and programs related to homeland security. One is a high-frequency surfacewave radar to detect small maritime vessels and low-flying aircraft. Raytheon ( is leading its development. While it's under the Department of Defense's (DoD's) Counterdrug Technology Development Program Office, it's being considered as a homeland-security tool. The idea is to provide low-cost, all-weather, accurate, and reliable surveillance of surface vessels and small aircraft well beyond the visible horizon.

Similarly, Silicon Graphics Inc. ( and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems ( are working together to produce the U.S. Navy's Area Air Defense Commander Capability System, powered by SGI's computing and visualization technology, for forward-deployed operations and homeland defense. The system provides military commanders with information from radar and data links into a graphic representation.

With the highly publicized success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Iraq, homeland-security officials are now seriously considering using them domestically for round-the-clock surveillance. In fact, the DoD is already working with industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to integrate UAVs into U.S. airspace.

"We see this as a multiyear effort," says Air Force Major Jim McCormick, co-manager of the newly established UAV Interoperability Working Group, which is addressing this issue. The objective, he says, is to establish a common set of rules for the use of UAVs across the U.S. within five years. Boeing ( and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have already demonstrated that a UAV controlled from the ground could be integrated into air-traffic-controlled airspace with manned aircraft.

One of the most lucrative opportunities for the industry may come from within the Department of Homeland Security, which is concerned about the threat of missile attacks on passenger airlines. The threat is taken so seriously, the government is considering paying for the installation of antimissile devices on commercial aircraft in the U.S., which could cost billions of dollars.

Analogic Corp. ( has already partnered with Sanders Design International ( to develop and produce an aircraft infrared countermeasures system for commercial airliners against shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles. Analogic is also working with Lockheed Martin to market a range of detection products, starting with a device that identifies threat materials to prevent them from being carried onto aircraft in carry-on luggage.

Another technology bound to gain from homeland-security concerns is RF identification. Four U.S. companies—NaviTag Technologies (, Hewlett-Packard (www., toy maker Hasbro (, and trucking firm Anderson Cargo (—along with Swiss firm Jungbunzlauer ( are already testing a small RF ID tracking device on cargo containers that are shipped from abroad and then trucked over U.S. highways. As part of an experiment supported by the U.S. Transportation Department, agents acting as terrorists will attempt to break into the containers.

Then, there's biometrics. A study last year by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) identified seven "leading" biometric technologies that could potentially secure the nation's borders—facial recognition, fingerprinting, hand geometry, iris recognition, retina recognition, signature recognition, and voice recognition. The report concludes that, in addition to privacy and policy implications for increasing security, "the cost of biometric border control would not be trivial."

The DoD's Biometrics Management Office selected BearingPoint ( to develop technologies that could greatly enhance security at the department's facilities. A BearingPoint priority is a DoD Common Access Card, which is a computer-chip-based smart card. Distribution of these contactless cards (meaning they don't have to be inserted into a card reader) for certain military units is expected to exceed 4 million this year.

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE One big concern troubling homeland-security officials, and an area that continues to be studied, is incompatibility in communications. One lesson that came out of the 1993 World Trade Center terrorist bombing is that federal agencies, local law enforcement and fire departments, ambulance services, and the military could not communicate. They each operated with the frequencies assigned to their agencies, unable to talk directly to one another.

This resulted in the formation of the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee, which spent a year looking at interoperability from every angle, from technology and spectrum allocation to funding. The committee produced a 600-page report. But 10 years later, even after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, little has changed.

Several organizations and companies are finally on the case. The Telecom-munications Industry Association (TIA) has been working with the public safety community to develop standards for public safety wireless communications interoperability. New systems under one of these programs, known as Project 25, were established to develop voice and data standards for digital public safety wireless communications. They're steadily coming online around the U.S., with more being developed. Under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, every 700-MHz radio must include Project 25 compatibility. The Pentagon also requires Project 25 for new land mobile radios. According to the Public Safety Wireless Network, a joint effort of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury, 14 states have implemented interoperable emergency communications systems, mostly as a result of post-Sept. 11 pressures.

Meanwhile, a guide for public officials titled "Why Can't We Talk—Working Together To Bridge The Communications Gap To Save Lives," was released by the National Task Force on Interoperability (NTFI). The NFTI has called on Congress to create a national Spectrum Trust Fund that would set aside funds from revenue from the sale of radio frequencies to the private sector to help state and local governments coordinate their communications. NFTI is also promoting the passage of the Homeland Emergency Response Operations Act. It would give public agencies the broadcast frequencies Congress set aside for them in 1997 (from 764 to 775 MHz and from 794 to 806 MHz) that are being used by TV channels 63, 64, 68, and 69.

In addition, several industry OEMs have developed and are marketing hardware they claim meets communications interoperability requirements. Transcrypt International's ( portable Tactical Interoperability Kit (TIK) can link portable and mobile radios operating in three frequencies. M/A-Com ( is promoting a scalable, network-based system called NetworkFirst that converts audio signals into IP digital data packets for transmission to regional operating centers. The center would send the messages over a private intranet connecting multiple radio systems. Eventually, says Jay Herther, M/A-Com's federal market manager, this could be expanded into a nationwide network linking existing systems of all makes, modes, and frequencies.

Further progress came in early March when the National Communications System (NCS), responsible for ensuring emergency preparedness communications, formally joined the Department of Homeland Security. The NCS has been a function of the DoD for 40 years. It currently works with U.S. wireless carriers to deploy a Wireless Priority Service, expected to be available nationally to first responder services by year's end. Help may also be on the way from Congress. Legislation recently introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) proposes to set aside $109 million to ensure that fire, police, and other emergency-management services can communicate among themselves.

CYBER SECURITY A raging debate at the federal level on cyber security continues. Is it adequate? Most experts think it's insufficient, pointing out that the Department of Homeland Security lacks the resources and expertise to secure the nation's information systems. Government officials insist that's changing, with information security receiving the highest priority, but they admit that much more work must be done.

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