Magazine article National Defense

Counterterrorism Office Looking for a Few Good Homeland Security Ideas

Magazine article National Defense

Counterterrorism Office Looking for a Few Good Homeland Security Ideas

Article excerpt

The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office is responsible for funding innovative ideas that can help operators on the tactical edge defeat non-state actors attacking civilian targets. That includes everyone from Special Operations Command personnel fighting in Afghanistan to secret service agents providing security for VIPs to first responders in local bomb squads. The office interviews end-users from about 100 federal agencies that are involved in counterterrorism to find out what they need.

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One technology that officials acknowledged may spark some controversy is a non-cooperative biometric surveillance system. Applicants will be asked to design a suite of sensors that will simultaneously capture faces and irises of 20 subjects walking through a chokepoint at major tourist sites or stadiums.

The system should capture the images at ranges of 3 to 5 meters, then store and transmit them, and send out an alert for a positive ID on a "flagged" individual.

Combining facial and iris recognition may cut down on false alarm rates, Matt Spring, acting program manger for physical security at CTTSO, said at a briefing unveiling this year's wish list.

"We're not worried here about the policy angle," Springer said, acknowledging that there would be concerns from privacy advocates on potentially collecting such data in public venues.

"What we are tasked with is developing the capability," The policy of how and when to use the system would be decided by the organizations that adopt the technology, he said. …

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