The problem being solved: The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and DHS U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) identified the need for collaboration that would draw on the strengths of each organization to develop, test and transition technology solutions for a range of USCG operations.
The solution: Under a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding, S&T and USCG established a Science & Technology Innovation Center (STIC) to strengthen the bond between DHS entities, share knowledge, create a culture of innovation, and rapidly transition technology to end users. S&T brings funding and expertise in research, development and technology transfer to the collaboration, while USCG provides leadership oversight, project management, personnel, and field-testing capabilities. Both parties collaborate in identifying possible projects for transition to USCG for applications that include communications, intelligence, surveillance, environment, uncrewed devices and modeling and simulation. The USCG also uses CG_Ideas@Work, a crowdsourcing tool, to identify operational gaps and challenges; ideas may come from any active duty, civilian, reservist or auxiliarist across the service. STIC executes the new ideas after USCG vets and prioritizes them and S&T funds them.
The impact: STIC has successfully tested, evaluated, and transitioned eight innovations with high readiness levels to address USCG mission gaps and support operations. These include:
STIC researched and evaluated a stabilized binocular that minimizes the effects of waves on an operator’s ability to view a target when scanning the ocean surface for vessels, objects, and humans. Evaluation feedback from the cutter and boat operators was positive.
STIC identified a Small Boat Wash System for cleaning debris from ship hulls while complying with California’s run-off requirements. The system uses a vacuum excavator to clean and disinfect dirty water before releasing it back into the environment.
STIC identified, evaluated, and purchased new equipment for UCSG’s anti-terrorism K9 unit, including a new helmet with integrated ear and eye protection and the ability to attach a 360-degree camera. Another new addition was a harness with a more rigid construction for spinal support, preventing wear on the dogs’ spines during hoisting operations.
STIC-directed user evaluations led to USCG being authorized to procure Low-cost Remotely Operated Vehicles—with miniaturization and more powerful batteries—to increase underwater situational awareness, such as when inspecting ship hulls, docks, or other infrastructure.
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