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2003 Speeches
Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens

Vice President, Homeland Security & Services

The Boeing Company

"Global Security Challenges"

International Technology Summit


February 06, 2003

I am glad to be here and participate in this discussion with such a distinguished group of senior representatives from the academic, business and government communities. In a sense, this type of gathering is a microcosm of the type of integration and working together spirit needed to address the challenges of global security.

We've seen signs of terrorism over the decades from Russia...... to the Middle East...... to Asia and beyond. And just last week, police here in Italy arrested 28 individuals with suspected links to al Qaeda. In nearly 18 months, more than 100 people have been arrested in Italy on suspicion of links to terror organizations.

And now most Americans have become more sensitive to the war on terrorism as a priority since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, terrorism continues to expand on a global basis and affects nearly every nation.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a global community is to sort out the respective roles world governments and business leaders will play in the war on terrorism. Our job is to find ways to stop terrorism so that people feel safe, and the means that support our global economic prosperity are protected. And this must be done in an integrated manner if we want to find solutions to this clear and present danger.

Terrorists are strategists. They choose their targets deliberately. We have to catch them before they act. And to do that, we must augment and integrate the best information and management systems possible to collect information and connect the dots in time to thwart any attack.

We need to see - to know - and to understand. And to do that - we must be vigilant. We must anticipate security challenges on all fronts - which is what I'd like to discuss today.

Roger Roberts spoke extensively about Boeing's approach to network-centric operations, which leads me to my next point.

What if we could leverage this strategic architecture Roger talked about into areas of global security?

What if we could use the same concepts, approaches, and tools that are supporting the battlefield and use them in areas of global security? I believe a network centric environment is a key element to our vision of the future.

Now, let's begin by using aviation as an example and consider the possibilities of a network-centric environment for global security.

What if - a live feed video surveillance camera captures the picture of every passenger at the ticket counter and another of that passenger going through baggage screening with their bag - and yet a third picture of that passenger boarding the flight?

Now lets imagine surveillance cameras capture a picture of an individual escaping security. Or let's say that someone enters the airport through an unauthorized door. A picture is taken of the individual and security is instantly alerted.

The challenge today is not that the information is not available, but rather, there are multiple screens and independent systems of video feed where those in airport security must oversee and monitor to get a sense of the "situation" of physical security. With today's sensors and integration capabilities available, those video feeds can become the sensors in a network centric operation that is part of an integrated high fidelity 3D image of the airport. The security officer now knows where he's at in the airport - what terminal he's looking at - what camera is he looking at - and the surroundings.

What if the sensors on the checked baggage explosive detection system are also nodes in the system?

What if integrated information about passengers coupled with critical baggage screening information can be integrated to provide yet another set of integrated information?

What if the reservation system were yet another node the integrated network? Physical information, integrated with passenger information, integrated with baggage information coupled with sophisticated tools could then be able to see patterns that occur at specific terminals in airports, across airports, even across regions or at an international basis.

With integrated information from sensors, across the entire security network, those vested with responsibility for maintaining a safe, efficient security operation will have a common view of the situation.

These seemingly benign security breaches - in fact - could represent a potential threat. By instantly connecting the dots as these reports are deposited on the network -software intelligent agents discover that the man caught carrying a suspicious weapon through security in Paris shares a common address with the driver of the parked car in New York. And that these individuals shared the same credit card information with a driver of a truck carrying hazardous materials down a highway and another worker at a major sea port.

A potential threat or a coordinated attack waiting to happen? Perhaps. But it would take months - if not years -- for investigators to piece together the clues and connect the dots. Software intelligent agents act like a continually running search engine - it's like Google with its engine revved all the time.

What if such a system anticipated your needs based on knowing your requirements?

These software intelligent agents would be able to pull the information together in a matter of minutes - presenting authorities with a threat correlation report and probability of a plausible terrorist plot. They're looking for the common thread - like shared phone numbers, credit card and drivers license numbers, flight data. By having software intelligent agents continually mining the network for information and instantly recognizing patterns and correlations between events - the network becomes our best arsenal in the war on terrorism.

Now, I would like to briefly touch on three areas I see as challenges to the scenarios I just talked about - there are many more challenges, but I'll limit my discussion to these three:

Privacy And Civil Liberties Concerns

On the first point, the possibility that a system might be deployed to let intelligence officials look into commercial transactions worries civil liberties proponents. Government officials in the United States, for example, have been considering constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists. It would provide intelligence and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from personal e-mail and calling records to financial transactions and travel documents...without a search warrant.

Many privacy and civil libertarian proponents feel uncomfortable about this and worry about the potential uses of such a system. They argue that such a system would bring a surveillance state, and that potential terrorists would soon learn how to avoid detection.

Global Standards

Now let me spend a minute on the issue of standards...I think this is one of the challenges we make sure that we have a global, secure transportation system... the consistency of standards and make sure we are checking things like baggage or cargo the same way and make sure we have consistent programs like the air marshal programs that are in fact worldwide .

I think consistency of standards globally is very important for a number of reasons. One is it will help boost public confidence when they travel in the many locations throughout the world. I think the other is from an economic standpoint. We find ourselves in a situation where we have different sets of standards and different sets of rules and therefore different systems, we're never able to find ourselves in a position where we know what protects against one threat verses what will protect against another threat. I think probably the biggest concern that many people have today is, why travel globally? I want to make sure that I'm traveling with the same level of security.........I want to know I'm protected against the same threat.


The third challenge I'll touch on is technology. We as a company, and there are many other companies are looking at what those technologies are and consistently evaluating them. I think the challenge we'll have is knowing at what point to deploy those systems. If I go back to the airport security programs, we ran into a real challenge to say we want to deploy the explosive detection equipment in the airports across America. We probably deployed that equipment a little bit sooner. Had we waited a year or so, we would have been able to reduce false positives significantly, and so we're working on those technology improvements right now. I think the biggest concern that a lot of people have is having a technology and then you've got to go through, not only the validation and certification, but being able to get in a production rate where you can actually assemble and deliver that equipment. and that's something that takes -- more than a few months. It generally tends to take a year or two before you can go to production and deliver.

I think in the future, technology is going to be driven really by two factors. One is the creativity of industry to come up with technologies that are applicable to meet a particular need. The other are the regulatory requirements that governments put on to define what it is that they're looking for. And I think the challenge is to find a balance between the two. If the government or regulatory agencies become so restrictive in their requirements, they will really stifle the inventiveness of what industry can bring to the table. The key is being able to find a balance. Another element to consider is that the first major procurement tends to set the standard. From an industry standpoint, one must ask - what is the standard that we as an industry ought to drive towards? Then all of us begin to drive our energy and our financial resources to be able to provide an ability that meets that standard. I think that's a real strong way for industry on it's own to take on a major leadership role, and then the regulatory agencies are able to respond to that capability, and then go deploy.

In closing --
There's no doubt about it. Global security is quickly becoming a strategy of paramount importance.

Ingenuity is our greatest front line defense against terrorism. Global security is leveraging what is going on in the commercial information technology world to develop a network centric environment. We will use our technology to protect our liberty - strengthen our economies - and become more competitive.

Global security isn't about being reactive - it's about being proactive . With machines that search for contraband - with advanced surveillance systems - with biometric technology - and with a network centric concepts and operations in place.

In order to be proactive - we must have information at our fingertips - at all times continually investigating before the fact.

I believe security embodies the network centric, information superiority vision of tomorrow. And our industry, and companies like Boeing and others - are responding to the call to duty.

I've heard it said that, "We're drowning in information and starving for knowledge."

In the future, systems will give us all of the information we need, but until we tie these systems together and they talk to each other, I believe we're still vulnerable. We need information - the right information to the right people at the right time. But more importantly - we need knowledge to move forward. And a network centric environment gives us that knowledge. Knowledge becomes our strategic advantage. It's the power of the network.

Today is very much about listening to your ideas, mutual sharing, and collaboration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.