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University Research Centers of Excellence for Homeland Security: A Summary Report of a Workshop
created markets for automobile seatbelts and home smoke detectors, both of which have major implications for insurability.
Similar considerations were discussed as applying to education and training. Students enter fields of study—undergraduate and graduate/professional—partly on the basis of career expectations. How positive expectations can be generated for the value of careers related to homeland security needs to be addressed. Skills attendant to firefighting, rescue work, emergency medicine, and law enforcement are increasingly taught at community colleges and other community-based institutions. Some workshop participants suggested that university centers of excellence for homeland security should include partners at this level. The idea of a center run by a consortium of community colleges was suggested. Some participants thought that community colleges lacked the necessary depth and breadth to manage a research center but might be good candidates to participate.
It was also pointed out that first responders are not the only community with which connections should be made by those engaged in homeland security-related research. Much of the nation’s critical infrastructure belongs to private companies and to local governments and authorities. Positive and productive interactions with these communities are necessary if a university center’s work is to be solidly grounded in reality. Good relationships with private and local authorities would also enhance the transfer of the products of the university centers to the people, organizations, and places where they can be of most use.
University centers would be a good place to study how to balance security requirements and other responsibilities of companies and local agencies. One example is balancing security checks and throughput rates for transportation elements such as airports, bridges, and tunnels.
Several workshop participants raised an issue related to government-industry-academia collaborations. Universities prefer to work in an environment of open access to information. Governments and companies often control information: government through the classification of national security information and other restrictions on dissemination, and companies through the general wish to keep proprietary any information that they deem to be competition-sensitive. These are not new issues, but they will likely have to be addressed to achieve effective partnerships for strengthening homeland security.