The Reality of Future Technologies
Individuals, who believe that technologies dreamed up in science fiction novels, movies, and comic strips could one day become a reality, make up the optimists and futurists in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate.
Although technologies that are shown in futuristic movies have not yet been invented, they are well on their way. S&T maintains a team of futurists in Arlington, Va., at the Homeland Security Studies & Analysis Institute (HSSAI) in order to keep dreams grounded. There, in the Resilience and Emergency Preparedness / Response Branch, analysts explore the art of the possible, helping DHS shape dreams into a lucid, viable vision.
In 2011, S&T’s First Responders Group and FEMA’s National Preparedness Directorate turned to Deputy Director, Bob Tuohy and his team to assist in forecasting first responder needs. The study resulted in Project Responder 3 (PR3). PR3 identified the capabilities most critically needed to ensure that responders could meet disasters swiftly, surely, and safely in three to five years.
By using research in order to develop technologies for the future, Dick Tracy’s 2-way wrist TV may soon become available on the market. Future cops will have “augmented reality” eyeglasses and be able to identify perpetrators from long distances. Paramedics will be able to use telemedicine and perform advanced procedures onsite without rushing the victim to the hospital in the years to come.
If you think S&T’s researchers reached these conclusions by taking notes and tallying votes, think again. To firm up their findings, the HSSAI researchers turned to a survey technique called the Q Methodology—an intensive exercise that revealed, in nuanced detail, how respondents felt about their various needs. Each responder studied a long list of needs, ranking each need’s priority from +3 to -3. The researchers then used factor analysis—a technique for describing how dramatically correlations vary—to reveal clusters of like priorities farther down the responders’ wish lists. With studies such as there, technologies of the future may be a lot closer than we think.