Front Page
Boeing Frontiers
March 2004
Volume 02, Issue 10
Boeing Frontiers
Cover Story

One in a Million

Locating potential security threats among the tremendous volume of people and cargo crossing borders might seem like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. But by maximizing Boeing's expertise, Homeland Security & Services, a business unit of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, intends to do just that.

Most Boeing facilities were closed on Dec. 31, 2002, as employees took the traditional time off between Christmas and New Year's Day. But activity at Boeing sites in Washington, D.C., and Richardson, Texas, could not have been more frenzied.

It was deadline day for one of the largest projects in Boeing history—the Explosive Detection Systems program for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Less than six months earlier, with memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks still fresh, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems won the contract to install explosive detection machines that would check every piece of airline baggage at every commercial airport in the United States.

One in a MillionNow, with a handful of hours to go, Boeing and its key partner, Siemens Corp., as well as scores of subcontractors, were racing to meet a midnight deadline and get 56 more airports certified. And Washington and Richardson were the Boeing nerve centers of this project.

In Richardson, employees jammed a small room called the "Ops Center." They worked the phones, hovered over computer screens, and jotted notes on charts the size of bed sheets plastered on the walls. A large clock ticked away the minutes to midnight.

In a similarly packed conference room in Washington, Boeing employees, contractors and TSA officials were doing the same. Outside the room was a large poster of President George W. Bush with a quote from his September 2002 speech at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport: "For the safety of every passenger, every crew member and every pilot, we are going to make our airline security stronger and more reliable. ... We will not surrender our freedom to travel."

Color-coded charts that outlined every airport and piece of equipment went from yellow to green to signify another milestone. One by one, the airports, designated by their three-letter codes, were reporting they were compliant: LAX, ORD, BOS, PDX, OAK and so on.

By midnight in Saipan, the westernmost airport on U.S. soil, every airport was certified as having met the deadline. (Some large airports required approval letters from the TSA with an understanding that more comprehensive work would be done in the coming year.)

"There were some within the company who were concerned if we were not successful, what the impact would be on The Boeing Company and our reputation," said Rick Stephens, who then was vice president and general manager of the Boeing IDS business unit of Homeland Security and Services. "It certainly was not without risk. We put together the right team, and we performed."

Today, Boeing Airport Security Program Director Tony Swansson is focusing on individual airports in the United States and abroad. "By integrating systems for better situational awareness, we can help airports improve their financial performance and reduce their inefficiencies without incurring additional costs," he said.

The explosive detection systems story raises the question: Why is Boeing, a company that's generally known for its aerospace expertise, in the homeland security market? There are plenty of good reasons.

Boeing sees homeland security as a growth area with an addressable market of $4 billion to $6 billion a year from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alone, along with opportunities from the U.S. Department of Defense and from abroad. Furthermore, Boeing has an interest in ensuring the efficient flow of people and commerce: It's a leading U.S. exporter and one of the largest American importers, and Boeing relies on the aviation industry for about half its revenues.

Just as important, Boeing has the experience and competencies to tackle a tremendously complex project such as homeland security solutions. Millions of trucks, rail cars, sea cargo containers, tons of air freight and people enter the country each year (see chart on Page 17). These figures and the staggering number of transactions that occur daily illustrate the complexity of the challenge ahead in homeland security. Boeing IDS executives believe the most viable way to address the threats associated with homeland security is to adopt a system-of-systems approach similar to what the business unit has done on Future Combat Systems, the transformational U.S. Army program in which Boeing is the Lead Systems Integrator. The need for a homeland security Lead Systems Integrator —someone who can integrate best-of-industry, flexible solutions for the customer—becomes clearer every day.

After the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. government grounded all airplanes and tightened its seaports and overland borders. That essentially froze the global flow of people as well as commerce in this era of just-in-time delivery.

"When we started in airport security, our goal was to get people flying again," said Ron Prosser, who recently succeeded Stephens as vice president and general manger of Boeing IDS Homeland Security and Services. "As we dove into the contract, we learned that counterterrorism was much larger than airports and included chemical and biological threats and more. Boeing has grown in its level of commitment. As we see applicability of Boeing capabilities, we will apply them elsewhere."

Turn up the volume
Among the many factors that make homeland security solutions such complex projects are the sheer numbers of people, moving vehicles and tons of freight that enter the United States each year. And don't forget about the number of jurisdictions that might have or want information on what enters the country. Here's a sampling of the numbers.

11.2 million
Number of trucks entering
the United States each year
Miles of border the United States
shares with Canada or Mexico
2.2 million
Number of rail cars entering
the United States each year
Number of foreign-flag ships making
calls in U.S. ports each year
Number of international flights each year
Number of calls at U.S. ports made
each year by foreign-flag ships
7.8 million
Tons of freight brought into the
United States by air each year
About 87,000
Number of different jurisdictions
in the United States


Stephens said the timing was right for Boeing IDS to create Homeland Security and Services, which had formerly been organized as Space Communications and Services. After Boeing won the airport contract with an initial value of $508 million and a potential five-year value of $1.37 billion, the company renamed Space Communications and Services to make a concentrated effort on homeland defense.

In November 2003, Prosser was named vice president and general manager of Homeland Security and Services. In his previous job as vice president of Integrated Defense Advanced Systems, Prosser was deeply involved in the FCS program.

"The goal is to create systems to enable situational awareness across the homeland security landscape—from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, to trucks on the road and container ships at sea, to activity at airports," Prosser said. "All while ensuring that the flow of goods and people isn't hindered. We're also working with all the stakeholders to better understand both the relationships and economics of the markets."

When Boeing IDS formed Homeland Security and Services, the U.S. government was just reorganizing to create a new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Homeland Security, which previously had been an office in the White House. "We were thinking ahead and recognized where our customer was going," said Stephens, who was recently appointed to the Private Sector Senior Advisory Committee of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Opportunities for homeland security work have come from government customers, civil agencies and the private sector. Committed to providing the right solutions to the customer, Boeing is focusing on aviation security programs, infrastructure and border protection, seaport and multimodal transportation security, and information sharing and analysis. Homeland Security and Services expects to triple its business volume over the next five years.

"The U.S. strategy is to engage terrorism abroad—to not let it cross borders—[through] preventative and proactive efforts to stop acts before they start," Prosser said. "To address the growing number of international threats, we must take a new approach based on a 'system-of-systems' architecture that involves the integration of people, data, products and technology from around the globe."

To do this, Boeing is using its experience as a lead systems integrator. The company's projects include technological achievements such as the International Space Station, National Missile Defense, the 777 commercial airplane and FCS. Boeing is applying lessons learned on major transformational DoD programs such as FCS and the Joint Tactical Radio System to homeland security solutions.

"A lead systems integrator brings to its customer the best of industry—not necessarily to have the one and only answer, but rather to have the flexibility to adjust as needed," Prosser said. "A lead systems integrator relationship enables customers and suppliers to alter plans based on new technology."

Homeland Security and Services' projects involve the work of many Boeing elements. Phantom Works is developing new technologies for use in homeland security solutions. Shared Services Group has created information assurances for the FCS program that are being extended into the ports projects. Connexion by Boeing is working on broadband and narrowband technology to improve communications to and from airplanes and between airplanes and air marshals. Air Traffic Management, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and the IDS business unit of Space & Intelligence Systems also play a role in protecting the nation against terrorist threats.

Prosser said a number of capabilities used at airports can be applied to other homeland security solutions, including the use of biometrics for verification or unmanned aircraft to support security infrastructure for ports and borders.

Last summer, Boeing IDS was selected for a demonstration project on cargo and container security systems. Under Operation Safe Commerce, Boeing will demonstrate technology to improve security of cargo that enters the Port of Los Angeles/ Long Beach and the Port of New York/ New Jersey (see Page 24 of the October 2003 Boeing Frontiers).

If port authorities are confident of a cargo's origin and legitimacy and are sure it hasn't been tampered with, they will be able to speed up cargo movement and improve security and the supply chain. Goods waiting to be inspected create delay for businesses and consumers, and open up opportunities for terrorists.

As part of Boeing's network-enabled architecture, the proposed systems will integrate real-time, in-transit container information with existing and future networks and databases. This will permit government users to detect and mitigate threats. In addition, the ability to monitor cargo in transit will significantly increase security and decrease cargo loss, as well as permit business efficiency improvements, such as enhanced inventory and asset management.

"Our initial cut at port security is to certify that a shipping container has what it is supposed to have in it and that it has not been tampered with," said Ron Maehl, who manages the port security and borders program for Boeing IDS.

The Boeing team is integrating numerous advanced technologies to create a highly sophisticated and multi-layered system that analyzes intelligence, detects terrorist threats, protects critical infrastructure and coordinates a response in the event of an emergency.

A common element in several of these programs is network-centric operations. The basic challenge is to get into multiple data sources—within agencies, across agencies and within the private sector around the world—and build a complete picture about what is happening and when it is happening to assess risks.

A network-centric environment creates the systems and capabilities that let people quickly, accurately and efficiently understand situations. It integrates communications and information systems to provide insight into the status of security from airplanes to airports, from cargo to passengers.

It gathers, integrates and correlates data to create an integrated awareness of situations to let people make key decisions and take action. And it involves systems that can talk to each other. Such an enabled network becomes the best arsenal in the war on terrorism.

"Terrorism prevention must be about gaining intelligence and information, understanding the information and then acting on the information," Prosser said.

Homeland security is not simply to protect the U.S. homeland, but to protect global networks of transportation, finance, information and energy. Protecting these networks requires a systems approach. Terrorists are increasingly aware of how open the opportunity is to exploit the systems upon which the global economy depends.

Boeing will continue to look at new technologies and incorporate them into its homeland security solutions. "We should feel good that the systems we have installed have been effective in dealing with today's threats," Prosser said. "Our future challenge will be dealing with the threats of tomorrow."


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