Electronic Design

The IEEE's Role In Homeland Security

The IEEE hopes to take a role in homeland security, mainly through its IEEE-USA Technology Policy Council. Ralph Wyndrum Jr., chair of the council, says his group plans to issue position papers throughout the year on several issues of interest to the IEEE. These would include proposals to Congress and the Executive Branch for increased funding for particular areas of interest, including biometrics.

"The situation is desperately crying out for good systems engineering," says Wyndrum. "We have already done the brute force things that we can. Just look at the airports. What we have \[in airports\] will look very rudimentary five years from now. However, I don’t think we have written the kinds of system engineering requirements that would drive the R&D of nimbler, simpler to use kinds of equipment that might find their way into airports. We still have a long way to go to get the kind of security we need in passenger safety."

For one thing, says Wyndrum, who travels about twice a week, no uniformity exists among airports, or even among terminals in the same airport. "I know that the sensitivity of the x-ray machines in Terminal B at Newark, New Jersey, are very different from those in Terminal A because I have gone through both of them. We need standards. What we have now is not acceptable," he says. Wyndrum’s group is also working on a position statement on government security and privacy policies.

The IEEE-USA’s Medical Technology Policy Committee is focusing on several issues, including the medical aspects of bioterrorism. According to Frank Ferrante, chairman of the committee, "Another one of our interests is to develop a plan that will address the incompatibility of \[medical\] equipment that might be used for homeland security."

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