Monday, November 17, 2008

DIGEST: Cabinet Appointments, RFID News

RFID-based System Tracked Victims of Hurricanes Gustav, Ike

The state of Texas employed EPC Gen 2 tags, GPS and bar-coding to monitor the process of evacuating individuals—particular the elderly, sick or disabled—who lacked access to transportation during the storms.

Nov. 12, 2008—Living through a hurricane is a traumatic, emotionally taxing experience for anyone—especially those who lack the means to flee from its path. This became glaringly obvious as the world watched and read about the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. And it was one of the main drivers behind an emergency program spearheaded in 2006 by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The system employs a combination of RFID, GPS and bar-code technology, and was designed to simplify and automate the evacuation process of elderly, sick, disabled or able-bodied individuals or families who have no access to transportation during an emergency (see An RFID Port in a Storm). This summer, the system was deployed to help the state's Division of Emergency Management evacuate 34,800 residents during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Democrats Move Cautiously on DHS Appointment

Not since the Eisenhower Administration took over the Department of Defense or the Reagan Administration assumed leadership of the Department of Energy have the stewards of our nation's security . . . been wholly or mostly replaced for the first time," analysts David Heyman and James Jay Carafano wrote in a September report, "Homeland Security 3.0," that noted the turmoil, distraction and delay caused by repeated reorganizations since the department's creation in 2003.

Obama has vowed to appoint a national cyber adviser to report directly to the president, strengthen a White House privacy and civil liberties board, and allow about 60,000 Transportation Security Administration screeners to form a union, which President Bush stopped by issuing veto threats in 2002 and 2007.

Obama will be pressed to weigh in by March 1 on a business-led fight in Congress to kill or scale back E-Verify, an electronic system that DHS wants companies to use to confirm the validity of work documents submitted by new hires.

The department has invested heavily in big-ticket research projects -- such as developing a surveillance-based "virtual" fence to control the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border, next-generation radiation detection and X-ray cargo screening equipment to be used at U.S. and foreign ports, and biological weapons detection systems to stand watch over U.S. cities. But the initiatives have yet to deliver on their promise, and DHS must decide whether to fork out billions more to continue or to deploy them.

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