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2016 Activities of IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Homeland Security

‘Homeland Security’: Today and Beyond

Francesco Flammini, Ph.D., IEEE Senior Member
Chairman, IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Homeland Security

Recently, there has been a change in the leadership of the Technical Committee on Homeland Security of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC) society [1]. The new TC co-chairs represent three different continents (Europe, Asia and North America), and this is a first sign demonstrating the cross-country importance of the topics related to Homeland Security and the joint efforts that are being carried on all over the world to protect the citizens and the environment from large scale threat scenarios.

The mission of the IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Homeland Security (TCHS) is to promote and guide information systems, algorithms, and database research of relevance to international and national security, by:

  • organizing special paper sessions relating to homeland security research in well reputed conferences;
  • conducting annual TCHS meetings during annual IEEE SMC conferences;
  • collaborating with other professional societies to promote security related research;
  • collaborating with funding agencies to develop homeland security related research programs and engage in research projects;
  • collaborating with government agencies, industrial partners and media to sponsor and organize homeland security related meetings, engage in policy discussions, and facilitate training, education, and outreach programs.

Currently, the TC has 10 members, but such a number is going to grow in the near future, and it is among the objectives of the current leadership to enroll new members strongly interested in topics related to homeland security and critical infrastructure protection, coming from both the academic and industrial worlds, who are willing to actively contribute with their ideas and proposals to the TC activities. Since Homeland Security is a highly cross-discipline and cross-country sector, technical and geographical diversity are an added value for the TC.

As the new TCHS chairman, I have tried to sketch a reference list of current ‘hot-topics’ in the Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure (CI) research. The list includes (but it is not limited to) [2]:

  • Convergence between Cyber and Physical Security
  • Integrated, holistic and cohesive approaches to Safety & Security design, evaluation and test
  • Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) systems
  • Cyber-security of Industrial Control System (ICS)
  • CI resilience models, metrics and indicators
  • Intelligent multimedia surveillance (multimodal approaches, audio-video analytics)
  • Emerging Cloud Computing and Internet-of-Things (IoT) security issues in CI
  • Sensor networks and smart devices for security
  • Threat, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for CI
  • Interdependency analysis of CI as cyber-physical systems-of-systems
  • Socio-economic, procedural, privacy-related and human factors in CI
  • Advanced sensing and detecting technologies for CI
  • Attack/Penetration testing and other simulation techniques for CI security evaluation
  • CI intrusion detection and prevention systems
  • CI business continuity, contingency planning, incident response and emergency/crisis management
  • Applications, case-studies and industrial experience reports in CI domains including smart-cities and smart-transportation

It is clear that, due to the highly heterogeneous sector, a comprehensive list of topics is very difficult to sketch, and the current topics are rapidly evolving or being specialized as new technologies are introduced and new threats are discovered. The complexity due to systems size, distribution and heterogeneity is at the same time an obstacle and a stimulating challenge for future research and engineering initiatives.

Personally, I believe that, from a methodological viewpoint, many areas related to design-for-security and Model Driven Engineering (MDE) still need to be explored in their multi-faceted possibilities, currently representing only a research niche. From the technology viewpoint, rapidly evolving artificial vision and hearing algorithms pave the way to new scenarios in which they are increasingly integrated e.g. in Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and drone surveillance.

A vision of the future of Homeland Security cannot leave out of consideration the political strategy to find a balance between surveillance technologies and social issues, also addressing ergonomics, privacy norms, laws as well as appropriate procedures and regulations. The relevance of those issues is regularly witnessed by the never ending discussions on CCTV boundaries and – more recently – body scanners using millimeter waves or terahertz cameras, not to mention the futuristic and sometimes visionary evolutions of biometric identification, like DNA-based people recognition and tracking [3].

The growing interest and relevance in Homeland Security is witnessed by the efforts that are being carried out at all levels to push, sponsor and fund related investments, research and innovation, like the EU’s Programme for European Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) [4] and the EU Horizon 2020 initiative on Secure Societies [5].

Whatever the future of Homeland Security will look like, computer science and engineering will continue to play a central role, enabling new paradigms in intelligent monitoring through big-data, information fusion, early warning and automatic situation assessment. Please check the TCHS home-page regularly to stay up to date with future TCHS initiatives in those areas. I am supporting synergies among related TC and scientific boards in order to jointly organize networking and knowledge dissemination events, including workshops, tutorials, edited books and journal special issues.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. should you have any (very welcome!) suggestions or if you need further clarifications, and particularly if you want to apply as a new TCHS member (please attach your CV and a short letter of motivation).

References:

  1. IEEE SMC TC Homeland Security Homepage
  2. Flammini F. (2012). Critical Infrastructure Security: Assessment, Prevention, Detection, Response. SOUTHAMPTON: WIT Press, vol. 54, p. 1-326, ISBN: 978-1-84564-562-5
  3. Flammini F., Setola R, Franceschetti G (2013). Effective Surveillance for Homeland Security: Balancing Technology and Social Issues. BOCA RATON, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN: 9781439883242
  4. Programme for European Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP)
  5. EU Horizon 2020 research funding initiative on Secure Societies