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by CSO Contributor

High Tech Blimps Could Aid Homeland Security; Industry Lobbies DHS for RFID Acceptance

Aug 08, 20032 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

High Tech Blimps Could Aid Homeland Security

Were used to blimps providing spectacular aerial shots as the hover over sporting venues. Now the military is hoping to equip blimps with high-tech sensors to help detect and monitor terrorist camps, according to a story in the Washington Post. During a demonstration for government agencies and the media this week, a sensor-equipped blimp flew over a densely wooded area and was able to detect a set of blue tarps on the ground, which represented a terrorist camp. The blimp used the Littoral Airborne Sensor Hyperspectral (LASH) system, which detects minute color shifts that the human eye cannot see. This technology was used earlier this year to track right whales off the northeast coast of Florida. By using LASH, radar and other sensors, two or three blimps could provide constant surveillance over the Washington, D.C. area, says Stephen Huett, airship program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Industry Lobbies DHS for RFID Acceptance

Some of the largest food companies and retailers in the United States are lobbying the Department of Homeland Security to have radio frequency identification (RFID) designated as an antiterrorism, according to Wired News. In spite of concerns over privacy, companies like Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson want to embed tiny radio transponders with their goods so they can instantly track items from the factory to the retail outlets to the customer, saving money each year in inventory and logistical costs. The Auto-ID Center, an RFID consortium, is hoping to gain approval from Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. From a security perspective, RFID advocates say the technology can help them track of all goods and help during a recall should their products be laced with poison as part of a terrorist attack. RFID proponents still have hurdles to climb. Wired quotes Jeff Deist, a spokesman for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a privacy advocate, We would never suport legislation to prevent businesses from using RFID the way they want to. Thats a question for the marketplace. But once the Homeland Security Department gets involved, thats another story entirely.