Technology’s role against terrorism
The information technology revolution that transformed our economy has also given us the tools, infrastructure and commercial capabilities to make domestic defense easier, less expensive and more effective. So says a report released in January by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPi), Washington. The report discusses the relevance of technology to detect and prevent terrorism: “Technology has revolutionized the economy with dramatic productivity improvements and an array of new communications and information processing tools.”
The policy brief, written to “stimulate thinking about how technology can take domestic defense from its old economy model…and transform it to a new economy model,” outlines the ways technology can aid in preventing terrorists before they strike. Such technology includes improved data sharing, smart cards with biometric identifiers, smart visas and improved border security, digital surveillance and face recognition technology.
Co-authors Shane Ham, senior policy analyst for the institute’s Technology and New Economy Project, and Robert Atkinson, vice president of PPi and director of the same project, state that “defending the nation against future terrorist attacks is a national priority that will be both complex and expensive.” In return, when considering how technology should be developed for the purpose of domestic defense, the policy suggests keeping the following “guiding principles” in mind:
Direct anti-terrorism efforts toward system-wide improvements;
Recognize economic benefits of investing in domestic defense;
Keep privacy issues in perspective;
Focus technology procurement on speedy deployment and interoperability; and
Coordinate domestic defense research and development.
Additionally, the policy draws attention to the correlation of technology and economic productivity: “Technology has revolutionized the economy with dramatic productivity improvements and an array of new communications and information processing tools. We must bring that same revolution to domestic defense, to gain maximum security and public confidence with minimum investment.” What the IT industry has developed in its own revolution — wireless data networks, encryption, miniature computer chips, the Internet and data mining software — Ham and Atkinson say should be used for domestic security. “Now that we have these tools, it is time to roll them out to make our nation safer.”
PPi is a project of Third Way Foundation Inc. It’s mission is to define and promote new progressive politics for America in the 21st century.
For more information regarding the research and education of the Progressive Policy Institute, write to PPi, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20003, call 202- 547-0001, or visit www.ppionline.org.