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PHASE I PROGRAM SOLICITATION FY 12.1 For the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate

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Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Program/Year: SBIR / 2012
Solicitation Number: DHS SBIR-2012.1
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Open Date: November 16, 2011
Close Date: January 5, 2012
H-SB012.1-001: Non-freezing Portable Vehicle Wash Tunnels

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

In the event of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak in the United States, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza or Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), export markets will be severely impacted until the United States can regain international status as free from the disease.  Freedom is achieved by containing the outbreak, preventing disease spread, and eliminating the pathogen.  A primary mode of spreading disease is by personnel and vehicles contacting contaminated material, including infected livestock, soil or animal bedding, then tracking the pathogen to another location on shoes, clothing, and vehicle surfaces.  Therefore, it is critically important that personnel and vehicles be disinfected prior to moving during an outbreak so the outbreak can be controlled as quickly as possible.  However, if the disinfection process is too cumbersome, compliance may be reduced, thereby increasing risk.

One of the major concerns during an outbreak is economic impact, which not only arises from lost export markets, but also from the cost of controlling the outbreak itself.  Any operation with multiple steps requiring significant labor, supplies and equipment, such as cleaning and disinfection, can greatly increase the cost of the response, and costs escalate the longer the outbreak continues.  Therefore, strategies to minimize labor costs while increasing speed of such an operation can significantly reduce outbreak control time and expenses.  Automated vehicle disinfection is one strategy that can both drastically reduce labor costs and response time, while facilitating outbreak control.  Recent FMD outbreak experiences in the United Kingdom and South Korea indicate that disinfecting vehicles during cold weather conditions is extremely challenging if disinfectant mixtures or disinfectant lines freeze.

Commercial car/truck wash stations can meet the need for automation and freeze-protection, but the stations are typically not located exactly where needed, such as at the entrance to infected premises, and the corrosiveness of some disinfectants may damage commercial equipment.  Although there are portable, non-freezing truck wash stations available commercially, the large automated ones are very expensive and must be moved with a crane, which adds to response cost and delays.  Overall, there is a general lack of ready-to-use equipment for portable, temporary vehicle wash stations, which can be readily acquired, deployed and used.

Therefore, it is necessary to develop portable automated vehicle wash stations that can be easily shipped and installed in the field, either on farms or roadway checkpoints.  The units should be:

  • light-weight – ideally unit can be transported on the back of a pick-up truck, unloaded by 2 – 4 people.  At a minimum, it should be transportable in or on a vehicle readily available to state and local emergency responders.
  • cost-effective (designed to minimize the cost of the unit to the maximum extent possible);
  •  rapidly assembled (set up by 2 – 4 people in less than 4 hours);
  • semi-permanent (operating for days to months at a time); and
  • rugged enough for large volume traffic.  

The units should be designed to: 

  • clean at least a ¾ ton pick-up truck with design scalable to 18-wheeler;
  • address a wide-variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria and spore-formers, using disinfectant solutions which may degrade some material:
    • acids, alcohols, aldehydes, alkalis, biguanides, halogen compounds, oxidizing agents, phenols, and/or quaternary ammonium compounds may be used as disinfectants,
    • a 4- to 6-log reduction in microorganisms (per EPA guidance available at is considered disinfection.
  • prevent freezing in cold weather conditions:
    • unit should be non-freezing to -25C (-13F);
  • achieve complete vehicle treatment including the undercarriage:
    • heavily mud-caked vehicles will likely be pre-treated, but the unit will have to clean some surface debris off the vehicles;
    • pressure would be similar to that used in commercial car washes.  It is assumed a vehicle will be driven into the tunnel, the vehicle will be washed with detergent, rinsed with water, disinfected followed by the required contact time (usually 10 – 30 minutes for common disinfectants, depending on ambient temperature) and rinsed again.
  • collect disinfectant runoff:
    • disinfectant can be recycled if the recycled disinfectant solution is as efficacious as the original solution;
    • disposal of collected water to be handled by others;
    • rinse water must be collected and conveyed to containers provided by others, or treated and recycled as part of system.

Ideally, the units will be cost-effective, user-friendly, have low emissions, conserve energy, and be low-maintenance.  Some of the research and development challenges of this concept include: 

  • Engineering a collapsible, light-weight tunnel which delivers the optimal flow of disinfectant chemicals to all surfaces of a vehicle, including the undercarriage.  This involves materials research to identify/develop light-weight, flexible, yet rugged fabrics and tubing which can withstand traffic, weather, and harsh chemicals under pressure.  For example, bleach is known to degrade certain rubber-like materials and citric acid could corrode metal components so the tubing assembly must be resistant to damage from common disinfectants.
  • Factory-assembling or quickly field-assembling system components with flexible but stable hinges or joints that can be collapsed and erected manually, preferable by a single person.
  • Designing the base of the unit to promote flow of liquids to a single point for pumping to separate collection containers, regardless of the terrain of the premises.
  • Combining the components in a manner to maximize personnel safety during set-up, operations, and dismantling; maximize cleaning and disinfection efficiency and effectiveness; and minimize the need for operations and maintenance labor.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a new technology or modify an existing technology.  Demonstrate the feasibility of the technology at the bench or pilot scale level.

PHASE II: Develop a fully functional prototype of the unit and demonstrate it in the field.  Full functionality includes the ability of the system to: 1) accommodate personnel and vehicles; 2) contain and collect wash water; 3) pump washwater; 4) deliver detergent and disinfectant solutions to a person or vehicle; 5) automatically deliver disinfectant to all sides of a vehicle, including the undercarriage, at sufficient pressure to ensure complete removal of visible soil on vehicle surfaces including tires; and 6) protect the disinfectant solution from freezing while achieving required contact times.

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS:Upon delivery and demonstration of a prototype, the technology should be suitable for manufacturing and sale in the commercial marketplace, with some minor modifications acceptable.  The commercial units would be available for purchase/lease by governmental and/or response agencies who would use the units for deployment during an animal disease outbreak to assist the response and recovery effort and contain the outbreak.  In the absence of an outbreak, the units can be used for routine biosecurity at production facilities to prevent an outbreak and facilitate continuity of a high-quality, plentiful, and low-cost food supply.

H-SB012.1-002 : Moving Target Defense

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

In the current environment, our systems are built to operate in a relatively static configuration. For example, addresses, names, software stacks, networks, and various configuration parameters remain relatively static over relatively long periods of time. This static approach is a legacy of information technology system design for simplicity in a time when malicious exploitation of system vulnerabilities was not a concern.

In order to be effective, adversaries must know a particular vulnerability of a system. The longer the vulnerability of a system exists, the more likely it is to be discovered and then exploited. Many system vulnerabilities are published by researchers and software vendors in order for system owners to patch those vulnerabilities. A system that remains unpatched is vulnerable to exploitation. Vulnerabilities that are not publicly disclosed are called zero-day vulnerabilities, and are known to a limited set of people. Zero-day vulnerabilities present a large risk to system owners because without knowledge of the vulnerability, system owners have no way to patch it.

It is now clear that static systems present a substantial advantage to attackers. Attackers can observe the operation of key IT systems over long periods of time and plan attacks at their leisure, having mapped out an inventory of assets, vulnerabilities, and exploits. Additionally, attackers can anticipate likely responses and deploy attacks that escalate in sophistication as defenders deploy better defenses. Attackers can afford to invest significant resources in developing attacks since the attacks can often be used repeatedly from one system to another.

The magnitude of this problem suggests that the information technology community needs a radically new approach for IT system defense. To visualize the elements of the new environment, observe that for attackers to exploit a system today, they must learn about a vulnerability and hope that it is present long enough to exploit. For defenders to defeat attacks today, they must develop a signature of malware or attacks and hope it is static long enough to block that attack. Malware writers develop mechanisms to rapidly change malware in order to defeat detection mechanisms. We, as defenders, should learn from this approach, and build systems that rapidly change, never allowing the exploitation of a particular vulnerability to impair the ability of a system to perform its mission/function, or if exploited once, not allowed to be exploitable again. If done correctly, this “moving target" defense can present a formidable obstacle to attackers since attackers depend on knowing a system's vulnerabilities a priori.

Therefore, a game-changing approach to building self-defending systems can and must be developed. Protecting systems (thus avoiding exposed vulnerabilities) to the greatest extent possible should still be the first goal. This new approach is known as, "Moving Target Defense (MTD)." An important benefit of moving target defense is to decrease the known attack surface area of our systems to adversaries while simultaneously shifting it; a key challenge of moving target defense is to ensure that our systems remain dependable to their users and maintainable by their owners. By making the attack surface of software appear chaotic to adversaries, it forces them to significantly increase the work effort to exploit vulnerabilities for every desired target. For instance, by the time an adversary discovers a vulnerability in a service, the service will have changed its attack surface area so that an-other exploit against that vulnerability will be ineffective. The characteristics of a MTD system are dynamically changed in ways that are manageable by the defender yet make the attack space appear unpredictable to the attacker. Moving target defense technology changes the game by wresting the advantage from the attacker because it eliminates the availability of constant or slowly-changing vulnerability windows that allow attackers to lie in wait and conduct useful experiments on persistent vulnerabilities. This game-changing approach challenges the traditional approach which councils that adding complexity to our systems adds risk. Conversely, the complexity of today’s compute platforms and analytic and control methods can now be used to frustrate our adversaries. The challenge is to demonstrate that complexity is indeed a benefit and not a liability.

The MTD area has its underpinnings in fundamental research in the following supporting or component areas: virtualization, multi-core processing, new networking capabilities, systems management, and evolutionary resiliency and defense methods. The results of the National Cyber Leap Year (NCLY) Summit (see References) categorized the current needs into research areas for consideration as follows: 

(1) Characterize the vulnerability space and understand the effect of system randomization on the ability to exploit those vulnerabilities.

(2) Understand the effect of randomization of individual components on the behavior of complex systems, with respect to both their resiliency and their ability to evade threats.

(3) Develop a control mechanism that can abstract the complexity of MTD systems and enable sound, resilient systems management.

(4) Enable the adaptation of MTD mechanisms as the understanding of system behavior matures and our threat evolves.

PHASE I: Demonstrate new methods, techniques, tools, and/or designs providing improved “moving target defense” technologies using the component areas identified above. Proofs-of-concept may include existing legacy products and tools, with new capabilities and/or services that could be applied in operational environments at either the individual system level or network level or both.

PHASE II: Develop and implementation operationally ready tools, methods, mechanisms, and/or services providing “moving target defense” capabilities with initial solution capable of being demonstrated in operational systems and/or network environments.

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: The final developed “moving target defense” tools and techniques will be expected to be used in operational Federal, State, and Local CIO environments, and potentially usable by commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and IT vendors. It is anticipated that those tools and techniques delivered as open source technology will require support, custom extensions, and additional applications as they are commercially introduced.

H-SB012.1-003: Safe Standoff Detection of Bulk Explosives on a Person

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

The Explosives Division of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate seeks ideas and technologies for the safe detection of bulk explosives on a person at a standoff distance.  There is significant need for the ability to detect and chemically identify concealed explosives on or carried by a person.  These technologies could be deployed at mass transit locations, national security event checkpoints, or other checkpoints.  Therefore the technology needs to scan a large amount of people in a short time at a significant standoff distance between the detector and the person being considered.  This is not a request for anomaly detection techniques, rather methods to detect the presence of explosives themselves.  In addition, this is not a request for trace explosives detection that may be present on the outside of the clothing or bag.  Identification of the explosives can greatly assist response teams and venue authorities to mitigate a detection alarm quickly and safely.  The desired technology must be safe to use on humans with limited ionizing radiation and no possible negative health effects.  The technology should be able to penetrate outer layers of clothing or carried bags (such as a purse or backpack). Technologies should also detect ounces of explosive material.  Explosives of interest include commercial, military, and homemade explosives (in particular peroxide based).  Ideally the technology will detect the presence of explosives concealed on a person and carried in a bag.  Specifically, methods that rely on differentials between the human body and a threat will not be applicable. 

PHASE I: Efforts will use theoretical and/or empirical data to determine if the proposed detection method is feasible.  A successful Phase I effort will result in a proof of concept of the proposed detection technique with theoretical and/or experimental data to support this conclusion.  The concept must be proven or within reasonable estimations proven before a Phase II award will be considered.

PHASE II: Efforts will develop, demonstrate and deliver a breadboard (TRL 3-4) prototype of the technology.  A successful technology should detect an appropriate explosive simulant material with reasonable accuracy and specificity. 

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Efforts will develop and design an advanced prototype (TRL 5-6) for piloting in a structured crowd environment.  This pilot supports the Detect program with applications to surface transportation and various DHS checkpoint environments.  If a Phase III contract is awarded, a prototype will be delivered after government acceptance testing.

H-SB012.1-004: Replicating Human Functionality during Firearms and Ammunition Testing with a Mechanical Device

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

The National Firearms and Tactical Training Unit (NFTTU) provides support to over 62,000 armed officers and tests on average close to 200,000 handgun rounds each year. Much of the firearms and ammunition testing is carried out manually by NFTTU personnel through repetitive firing. Multiple forces are exerted on the body during the firing of a gun and repetitive usage can often translate to acute body pain. The NFTTU needs an end-to-end solution to replace the human firing system with a mechanical device. The device should: 

  • Be easy to mount and re-load with full magazines;
  • Mimic the exact counter forces of a broad demographic range of human hands during firing, recoil cycle, bullet/cartridge ejection. and post-firing forward movement of the gun; and
  • Allow for similar accuracy as when completed by human testers.

Initial development of this capability gap will include modeling of complex, multi-degree forces exerted on the human body when a gun is fired as well as the resulting reactionary/counter forces that are then exerted on the gun by the human body. These models might already exist, however part of filling this capability gap will include research on current initiatives in the federal, defense and private sector arenas.

PHASE I: Develop and deliver a virtual model that will be able to characterize the various forces that are exerted on the human body by continuous manual testing of firearms and ammunition.  The virtual model must include all forces involved during the firing of a handgun.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a working prototype with engineering plans derived from the Phase I virtual model (3D models, finite element analysis, motion modeling, etc.) that successfully responds to the description above.

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) plans to be developed are subject to prior adherence to D-102 System Engineering Lifecycle requirements, followed by OT&E at the NFTTU. Acceptance by the NFTTU into operational use will follow testing of the device.

H-SB012.1-005 : Capability for the Tracking of Any and Every Person within a Security Perimeter

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

As a person undergoes security screening, he or she is typically positively identified through a credential check only once at the entrance to a security perimeter.  Subsequent to that one credential check, it is difficult, if not impossible, to definitively associate any other cues; e.g., behavioral or physiological, with specific individuals once they have passed through that checkpoint.

As the Science and Technology Directorate investigates the use of distributed screening (screening of persons for an extended period of time within a security perimeter rather than once and only once at a single checkpoint), it will be necessary to be able to associate specific behavioral and physiological cues detected remotely through other means/with other sensors, and which may be potentially diagnostic of malintent (the intent to cause harm to our country or its citizens), with specific individuals with a very high degree of confidence and accuracy.  The proposed method of tracking should not be dependent on commonly accepted biometric identifiers (i.e., facial recognition) in order to ensure that the proper safeguarding of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) does not become an issue.  Nor should the system be designed around Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. This requires that a capability be developed that enables the continuous tracking of individuals, without their active cooperation, in crowded environments so that cues detected through other remote sensors can be accurately and unambiguously assigned to specific persons being screened.   

At the end of Phase I, it is desired that the performer be able to show that the proposed technology is feasible, low-cost, networkable – potentially in a distributed array – and is safe for use on humans.  This may require the use of preexisting, commercial-off-the-shelf items that have been previously demonstrated or otherwise certified to be safe for use on human subjects.

PHASE I: At the end of Phase I, the performer will deliver and demonstrate a small-scale, proof-of-concept/prototype capability that is reliable, low cost, networkable, and reconfigurable and which can serve as the foundation of a larger scale capability.

PHASE II: At the end of Phase II, the performer will be able to demonstrate and deliver a prototype of a larger scale tracking capability based on the Phase I deliverable that can accurately and continuously track at least one individual in an environment that is representative of an operational security screening setting.  It is also highly desirable that the capability be able to detect other cues potentially diagnostic of malintent; e.g., gait, remotely.

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: In Phase III, it is envisioned that the performer will be able to track multiple individuals (three to five) in a crowded environment; e.g., critical infrastructure (such as a national monument, major sports stadium, or power generation plant) or a shopping mall (for the purposes of retail security/theft prevention).

H-SB012.1-006: Swarm Robotic Sensing Platform for Search and Rescue

For details, please refer to the solicitation details located at FedBizOpps website.

The distributed bot sensing networks can enhance the quality of response for the emergency response teams.  This capability will enable responders to have advanced situational awareness in an indoor environment.  Currently Search and Rescue teams use cameras and optics to view indoor spaces.  The goal of the effort would be to develop new and innovative sensing research, and develop a prototype swarm bot sensing sensors and platforms capable of providing imagery and context for an indoor scene to enhance and augment situational awareness (audio, video display, etc.).  It is envisioned that these platforms/vehicles would be small, easy to handle, and include autonomy to handle movement, fault tolerance, path/track management, information handling, and "perching" capabilities on uneven terrain to stare and/or listen (desirable to save power).  These platforms must be low cost systems and nearly disposable units since operating environment may be hazardous.  The system should be able to operate individually or in teams via collaborative movement and goal management.

PHASE I: Provide the results of a feasibility and technology assessment, component selection, and a design refinement of the prototype with concept demonstration.

PHASE II: Prototype development and demonstration of the concept developed in Phase I, market research and plans for follow-on development and commercialization that may include strategic partnering.

PHASE III: COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: A low cost, nearly disposable unit in an emerging field will foster commercialization opportunities within industry.   Linking with GLANSER (Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders, a DHS S&T Directorate program) will help with commercialization, limited production and market interaction based on GLANSER’s commercialization plan (already underway).  In addition, the technology will improve overall situational awareness for first responders, a large and rapidly growing market.  The technology developed will have significant impact in the public and private sector.