Networked Homeland Security strategies
W. David Stephenson
Last modified: April 3, 2006
(this would be most appropriate for the special homeland security panel. However, it could also be included in the networks and structural themes field).
The Department of Defense adopted a "netwars" strategy to fight terrorism that evolved in the late 1990s because of the realization that new communications technologies facilitated formation of networked, non-hierarchical terrorist groups. However, as Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, the domestic response to terrorism, homeland security, is still hierarchical and not prepared to respond to fast-changing, adaptive terrorist networks; natural disasters; and/or pandemics.
This presentation will detail a "networked homeland security strategy" that is more effective because it matches a networked enemy with a networked response. This strategy is synergistic because it marries increasingly networked, self-organizing, self-healing communications devices such as mesh networks, VoIP phones, or, in a worst-case scenario, even cheap "walkie talkies, with research on emergent behavior that shows how networked groups might be capable of a higher-level of collective intelligence and action. An additional component of the evolution of personal communication, the increasing array of technologies and applications to capture and share real-time, location-based information, makes this kind of networked response more effective, and better matched to fast-changing, unpredictable circumstances.
This strategy recognizes that, with the advent of self-organizing, self-healing peer-to-peer networks, government has effectively lost control of the flow of information: the public will, as a matter of human nature, use these devices to help each other in a disaster whether or not government approves, so it is best to accept that reality and capitalize on it. The resulting synthesis will turn the general public from pawns to simply be manipulated into full partners who can actually make substantive contributions to preparation and response.