Research Transition

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General Introduction to Research Transition

Overview of DHS S&T Research Transition

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s organizational revitalization of October 2018 included the formation of the Office of Science & Engineering (OSE) which, among others, has a division responsible for Technology Scouting & Transition (refer to S&T org chart).

Technology Scouting refers to the front-end horizon scanning process conducted before a Research & Development (R&D) project is initiated in response to meeting an expressed operational need or requirement.  S&T’s new operating process for R&D initiation, shown in the accompanying figure, tightly integrates this technology scouting (TS) component before the initiation of R&D.

Before initiating an R&D effort, S&T thus requires that technology scouting be conducted to identify existing, commercially available solutions that meet, or can be relatively easily adapted to meet, the expressed operational requirements.  This is analogous to the Pre-Funding phase shown in the high-level transition/deployment process diagram shown below.

Transition/Deployment Process, showing analytics interventions at each stage.

If the Technology Scouting effort determines the operational need/requirement cannot be met, then along with consideration of other factors, R&D is carried out, producing results, which are then available for transition.  Again in reference to S&T’s operating model, R&D results/outcomes transition (TR in the figure) is considered throughout the process, from the early stages of understanding the operational need, through the conduct of the R&D, and ultimately at the end of the process in the delivery of capability to operational units.

Research Transition by Other Government Agencies (OGAs)

Research transition then is the process by which the results of the R&D effort are productized in a manner that enables their use by the operational component that motivated the R&D with its unmet need/requirement.  Research transition is variably called technology transfer, commercialization, spin-off formation, etc., and each of these terms has unique implications about its characteristics, metrics and measures for success.  All government agencies funding R&D are highly interested in the process of research transition.  In addition to DHS, the most visible among these other government agencies include the Department of Defense (DOD, especially DARPA), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), etc.  A typical project-to-product process is shown in the figure below.

DHS S&T classifies the output of its R&D projects as tools, technologies or knowledge products (TTKPs).  R&D is carried out at S&T under several program offices, such as the Office of Mission & Capability Support (OMCS), and the Office of Innovation & Collaboration (OIC).  The DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs), reporting under University Programs within OIC, have developed over 200 applied TTKPs stemming from their research efforts.  These TTKPs offer the potential to improve operational efficiencies and decision-making by components of DHS and law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.  CREATE has developed and contributed many valuable TTKPs that have successfully transitioned, for example:

  • Assistant for Randomized Monitoring over Routes (ARMOR/IRIS/PROTECT) - ARMOR is the original game theory-based software that randomizes schedules, plans, or actions for security agencies. ARMOR was successfully deployed at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for randomized scheduling of LAX police and canine patrols, then adapted to IRIS by the TSA FAMS for scheduling federal air marshals on international flights, and subsequently modified, expanded, and used by the U.S. Coast Guard as PROTECT for randomizing sea resources on its Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security (PWCS) patrols.
  • Economic Consequence Analysis Tool (E-CAT) - E-CAT provides rapid economic consequence estimates for numerous threats, including terrorism, natural disasters, and technological accidents, in a user-friendly software package. E-CAT can help policy-makers evaluate the magnitude of various potential threats to enable decisions on how to allocate budgets across interdiction, mitigation, and resilience options.
  • Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique to Evaluate Radiological Isotope Identification Device (SMART-RIIDs) - A radioisotope identification device (RIID) is a handheld or portable device used to detect and identify radiological or nuclear materials.  SMART-RIID is a web-based software tool to assist in the evaluation of these devices on criteria such as detection rate, nuisance alarm rate, weight, and cost.
  • MANPADS – MANPADS is a model for evaluating the installation of countermeasures, such as electronic devices, on commercial aircraft to defend against surface-to-air missile attacks by terrorists.  The model takes into account alternative modes of attack, probabilities of success, and consequences to the economy, and enables decision-making on the benefit of improved risk (lower risk of a successful MANPADS attack) versus the expenditures of funds for installation and maintenance of countermeasures.

Sources of Additional Information on Research Transition