Imaging, Communication Standards for Homeland Security Systems in the Works

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) plans to develop a standard for homeland security systems, one that would contribute to protection of the nation's ports and borders and eventually help shape a market for scanning, detection and security-related products.

A new standards development committee is being created to tie together a number of technologies that NEMA's member companies already make, including equipment for scanning, physical access control, video, intrusion and explosives detection.

While this technology already exists, a standard that allows these devices from different manufacturers to communicate with one another does not exist. Providing an environment in which there is a common language and a means of transmitting it to other locations is vital to the nation's national security interests, according to NEMA.

NEMA specifically is proposing the development of a digital imaging and communication standard for the aforementioned technologies.

The idea of a universal standard is not new for NEMA. The organization's medical division has developed a standard called Digital Imaging and Communications In Medicine (DICOM). Using DICOM as a model in developing a homeland security systems communications standard will save time and minimize start-up costs, since it has a number of elements that could carry over into a homeland security standard:

  • It is an open source system that can be used in Windows and Linux environments and conforms to interconnection standards set by the International Standards Organization.
  • It enables network and component integration in the sending and receiving of digital images and related information.
  • It covers most image formats.

"NEMA has asked the Department of Homeland Security to lend its support to this project, and we expect that it will be forthcoming," says NEMA President Evan Gaddis. "In the meantime, it is imperative to move forward. Our experience with the DICOM standard shows that if we can occupy the space first, the world will follow."

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