The 200+ year history of government in the United States has essentially revolved around two questions: What is the government responsible for and what should it be able to control? In one form or another, these two questions have been debated at every level of government, every working day, right up to the present time. It’s the essential question of democracy. But, during all of this time, there is one point that politicians and citizens have always agreed on. Regardless of how big or how small people think the government should be, virtually all of them believe that the government is responsible for national defense.
Defense is, after all, the reason most governments were formed in the first place. Today the word “defense” has increasingly been replaced with “homeland security”, reflecting a sense that the threats to America are changing. America now sees itself threatened less by invasion than by infiltration, an enemy untouchable by the massive defense structures built over the past 75 years.
As a result, a seismic shift has been occurring, a shift away from the strategic projection of power to the protection of our own borders and homeland. But it’s a shift taking place when there is also a huge upheaval in the economy. With Washington already pledging countless dollars that it doesn’t have, even protecting the immediate homeland is being scrutinized for justification with a growing need to leverage every available dollar.
Technology is seen by some as the only answer, a way to get a critical job done for the least amount of money. Fortunately, the industry is beginning to offer technological solutions that may just meet the need. Companies like Boeing (NYSE: BA), which has the contract for the technology portion of the border fence being built in the Southwest; ABM Industries, Inc. (NYSE: ABM), which offers sophisticated electronic systems to aid in security; Northrop Grumman Corp. , which meets the demand of integrated networks and databases located in defense and intelligence organizations; and Global ePoint, Inc., (OTC: GEPT), which produces advanced video surveillance solutions for the homeland security and other markets. These are just some of the companies, big and small, benefitting from the increased demand for technological leveraging.
However, perhaps the best example of such leveraging is Suspect Detection Systems, Inc. (OTCBB: SDSS). Based in Israel, SDS was founded by former senior officials of Israeli security along with high-tech industry experts. If ever there was a place that knows about security, it’s Israel. For over 60 years, security there has been #1 priority, built upon almost daily threats, both internal and external. All of that hard-won experience has now been loaded into a standalone software package, a proprietary “expert system” designed to, among other things, successfully screen suspects based upon a variety of biofeedback indicators.
The SDS product is an automated decision making system capable of collecting and analyzing psycho-physiological indicators and cross-referencing them against additional information. Once an individual is tagged as a suspect, they will be directed to further questioning by the appropriate authority. By using 5 minute tests, the system is designed to identify terrorists, employees who have hostile intents, criminals, smugglers or collaborators, while freeing up the time of human resources until needed. The system is quieting a lot of skeptics who, until now, have considered any such attempt as futile, because it’s turning out to be surprisingly reliable, with a false alarm rate of no more than 4%. Some see the SDS system as a huge improvement over the old CAPPS II (Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System), a source of so much controversy.
It’s too early to tell whether technology will be able to provide the complete answer to the unique problems of homeland security. However, there’s little question that companies like SDS will play an increasingly important part in what is generally agreed to be the single most important role of government, securing our homeland.
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