The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched its fifth course of the Hacking for Homeland Security (H4HS) program this Fall 2022 semester. The growing program is now available for students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Texas A&M University (Texas A&M) to develop solutions for pressing homeland security challenges for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“We’re excited to provide this unique opportunity for students who’ll bring fresh ideas to real-world government problems,” said Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “H4HS is expanding its innovation network to reach diverse talent by broadening its scope of universities. As the program grows, we look forward to seeing its impact on the DHS mission.”
RIT students are working on improving real-time translation and communication tools during airport screening for TSA, anticipating future disaster impacts and risks for FEMA, prioritizing multimedia incident information reported to 9-1-1 call centers for CISA, and efficiently processing application data for individuals seeking to be temporarily in the U.S. for HSI.
Student teams from Texas A&M are helping TSA conduct an independent assessment on industry and government implementations of open architecture to capture key elements of a successful approach. This assessment will further review TSA’s open architecture strategy to evaluate if it addresses the key elements of a successful approach. A core open architecture component for TSA focuses on common and accessible data format and interface protocols through the standardization and distribution of a data format standard and an interface format standard. A key evaluation will be of the Open Platform Software Library (OPSL) API compared to vendor proposed options like REST APIs. The assessment will include identification of risks and recommended strategies for optimizing the agency’s open architecture strategy focused on key technical, acquisition and organizational components.
Launched in 2020, H4HS engages engineering, business, and policy students from leading universities to develop innovative solutions to mission-critical homeland security challenges.
The program’s first course was held at the Colorado School of Mines, where students tackled solutions for emergency responses. One of the student teams conducted more than 100 interviews across multiple agencies and organizations and developed a drone delivery system concept for essential relief kits. In 2021, participating students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy provided a near-term, remote access solution when tasked with addressing latency issues at screening checkpoints. Their findings were presented to TSA.
For more information about the Hacking for Homeland Security Program, visit: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/hacking-homeland-security.