As the Homeland Security threat landscape continues to evolve, the DHS Centers of Excellence again collaborated to bring thought leaders from across the nation together to discuss these challenges and identify how the COEs might partner together with DHS components, industry, and each other to provide innovative solutions.
Joanna Ip, Assistant Director (Acting), Operational Technology and Cyber Division (OCTD), HSI, ICE, vividly captured the challenges faced by homeland security investigations as part of a leadership panel moderated by Deputy Under Secretary (Acting) for S&T, André Hentz. Ip emphasized the importance of big data analytics solutions to support information mining to produce valuable investigative insights. She suggested these solutions need to be agile and nimble to adapt to the increasingly diverse problem sets HSI faces in its mission to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure to pursue illicit activities.
How big is this challenge? In FY18 alone, HS investigations resulted in 34,000 criminal arrests, seizure over $1.2B and 10,000 pounds of opioids, and identification and rescue of 859 child victims. These figures convey both the scope of the effort and its societal importance.
CINA organized logistics for the week-long activities surrounding the two-day summit, held July 31 and August 1 at George Mason University’s Arlington, Virginia campus. The event connected more than 500 subject matter experts from 350 different academic, industry, and government organizations and more than 40 students.
In his opening remarks, DHS Office of University Programs Director Matt Coats addressed the two central themes of the Summit– gray zone threats, and challenges posed by today’s hyperconnected world. Director Coats emphasized the role of COEs at the tip of the spear of innovation as DHS evolves to address its current and emerging challenges.
The Senior Official Performing the Duties of DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, William Bryan further emphasized the importance of COE-led innovation in today’s challenging times. Bryan noted such innovation must extend to the next generation of problem solvers. Tomorrow’s diverse workforce must be able to combine the art of critical thinking with the necessary technical skillsets to navigate through massive amounts of data.