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S&T is contemplating adoption of ‘rapid prototyping’ technology

Rapid prototyping developed
this portable surveillance system

The Science and Technology Directorate of DHS is thinking about introducing “rapid prototyping” into its R&D process, so it can shorten the time it takes to move a preliminary concept for a homeland security-related technology from the conceptual stage to the operational end-user.

“The objective of this requirement outlined in this RFI is to determine whether a flexible capability to rapidly develop and deliver models, prototypes, and products to facilitate the adoption of S&T sponsored technologies by operational end users can be established on a directorate wide methodology and process,” explains a statement of objectives made public by S&T on January 23.

“Rapid prototyping” is a relatively new class of technology -- used by the commercial sector and the Department of Defense -- that involves the production of models to evaluate “fit and form” or tooling for low-volume manufacturing.

The S&T statement of objectives cites three illustrative examples of the potential uses of rapid prototyping: (1) S&T has already developed a product, such as a surveillance camera, but needs help in completing the design, testing it and demonstrating it to potential users; (2) S&T is considering a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, but the product requires additional development, modification or testing; and (3) Early basic research has developed a “proof-of-concept,” but S&T needs to build a prototype to prove that the new capability can work in an operational environment.

The S&T document identifies six niches within the homeland security field that might benefit from its adoption of rapid prototyping techniques: border and maritime security; chemical/biological defense; cyber security; explosives; resiliency; and first responders.

S&T has only issued a Request for Information (RFI) thus far, and has not committed itself to issuing a formal solicitation or moving toward a formal contract award. Interested parties are invited to submit a document outlining their rapid prototyping capabilities and past experiences that will run a maximum of five pages. Such a document should be submitted to S&T by Feb. 22.

Additional information is available from Martha Palacio at 202-254-6383 or martha.palacio@hq.dhs.gov.