Convention First Test of New DHS OpsCenter

Computerworld – Convention security to test new DHS operations center

Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge yesterday said new IT systems have been deployed ahead of schedule to ensure that the government is capable of managing any security crisis that might arise during this summer’s political conventions.

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The DHS now has “full nationwide connectivity” to a new Homeland Security Operations Center, which Ridge described as a “nerve center for homeland security information and incident management.” He also said homeland security directors in all 50 states have direct access to the DHS through a recently deployed Homeland Security Information Network, known as the Joint Regional Information Exchange System (JRIES). JRIES currently operates at the sensitive but unclassified level. However, Ridge said that by the end of the year, the DHS will have the appropriate firewalls deployed that allow officials to share secret-level data on the network. “For the first time ever, this national operations center allows us to receive information in real time and turn that information, when appropriate, into actions that protect the homeland,” said Ridge. “The most advanced technologies, including the newly created Internet-based Homeland Security Information Network, allow us to maintain up-to-the-minute information, to map that information against our critical infrastructure and known threats, and then share it instantly with the White House, all 50 states, more than 50 major urban areas, and thousands of state and local agencies. We’ve never had that capacity before.”

The DHS also plans to begin a pilot program that uses technology to track high-risk trucks on the nation’s highways in all 50 states, according to Ridge. The department has also begun to deploy the first set of thousands of handheld radiological detectors, the size of an average pager, for use by law enforcement officers to locate and prevent the use of so-called dirty bombs.

The DHS also plans to monitor high-risk chemical facilities via Web-enabled perimeter cameras, Ridge said. Those cameras will link directly to the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center.

Sounds pretty impressive.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.