DHS Offers Operational Testing for Critical Infrastructure Technology
Monday, November 19, 2018 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) has taken steps to diversify its testing methodology for critical infrastructure solutions, resulting in an increase in testing in operational settings.

Testing new critical infrastructure solutions is different than testing other technologies. Critical infrastructure failures can be devastating. Water quality, power grids and transportation all rely on the efficacy and safety of technologies that support and make up those critical infrastructure sectors. This is why new solutions must work in conjunction with existing security redundancies. There cannot be weak links in the protection of the nation’s infrastructure, S&T said in a statement.

Testing in an operational setting means new technologies are tested in the operational environment in which it will be deployed. Using synthetic data, S&T tests a technology’s functionality with environmental factors, such as terrain, power resources and legacy technology, affecting performance, enabling a more accurate evaluation of a technology’s viability for deployment. When technologies don’t perform as planned, developers are able to tweak and then re-test their work to create a better product.

S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) embraces this practice, making testing in an operational setting a critical component of the development process. SVIP works with startups and small businesses to bring cutting-edge technologies into the homeland security enterprise (HSE).

Startups and small businesses are often unfamiliar with DHS operations and how their technology can enhance our work. Through testing in an operational setting with SVIP, these companies gain a better insight into the needs of end users. Testing new technologies in a rigorous, realistic environment not only provides insight into effectively addressing HSE needs, it also facilitates collaboration between the companies developing solutions and potential end users.

Collaboration while testing critical infrastructure products in an operational setting is key. Doing so gives end users the opportunity to provide feedback on a solution, which enables portfolio companies to better customize their products to real-life needs and create effective solutions.

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