Blockchain, sensors and wearables: DHS calls for small business support


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The Department of Homeland Security wants small businesses to help it research and develop new technology that does everything from creating new applications with Bitcoin’s encrypted backbone to detecting radiation via mobile devices.

The agency will release a solicitation Wednesday through its Small Business Innovation Research program, asking for proposals that will cover various topics under both the Science and Technology Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. Overall, DHS is asking businesses to focus on 13 different projects.

“It is vitally important that we cast a wide net to find highly innovative solutions to the Nation’s homeland security challenges,” Reginald Brothers, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, said in a statement. “We know that America’s small businesses are creative problem solvers and engines of innovation and we want to hear from them.”

Of the 13 projects, 10 fall under the S&T office. Three of those either deal with the blockchain (the public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions), identity verification, or both. One project focus asks for businesses to explore a new system built on top of the blockchain that would give more situational awareness to identity management, going beyond what is currently possible with active directory. Another looks to use the blockchain as an enhancement for analytics inside DHS, while the third asks for ways to use it in developing alternatives to knowledge-based authentication — the so-called “secret question” method of confirming someone’s identity online.

The emergency management project is looking for a way to track first responders inside buildings via wearable, self-reporting devices. The devices would provide real-time updates of responders’ x, y and z coordinates, and must be able to work regardless of materials used in the building’s structure.

[Read more: DHS wants better wearables for nation’s first responders]

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is looking for a kit that would turn an average smartphone into a modern-day Geiger counter. The eventual product would be able to source location, isotopic signature and intensity, while also be able to track people while in the field through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacons.

Proposals are due by Jan. 20, 2016. You can find more information on the project tracks on

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Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Departments, mobile and wireless, mobility, Tech