- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Hundreds of business people packed into the D.C. Armory yesterday to show off products they say will protect the world from terrorists and possibly win their firms a piece of the billions set aside for homeland security.

At the Homeland Security Expo and Conference, big and small companies ranging from Verizon to "Toby's Nose Filters" pitched products and systems designed to satisfy a governmental call for a safer home front. The Department of Commerce sponsored the conference, marketing it toward federal procurement officers and law enforcement officials.

For companies manning tables yesterday it was an attempt to cash in on an estimated $100 billion homeland security market. President Bush has asked that $38 billion be set aside for homeland security beginning Oct. 1, and Congress has sought more. While only a handful of elite companies will profit from that, many firms hope to capitalize on spending by private citizens to secure their homes and on continuing efforts by corporate America to protect critical information systems.

"One of the great things about this expo is that the companies see homeland security not just as a challenge, but an opportunity," Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said in a brief speech.

Indeed, some companies pitched complex technological systems selling for thousands of dollars. Delphi Technologies, a former General Motors subsidiary, displayed its complex TruckSecure system, designed to prevent tractor-trailers from being used as weapons in the same way that planes were used in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Selling for between $1,000 and $1,500, the system includes two-way communication between the truck and the dispatch center, with a Global Positioning System to track the truck's route.

"If the truck leaves its intended destination, we have the ability to tell the truck to go idle," said Delphi spokesman Steve Gaut.

Also on display was the "First Responder" truck, hailed by its creator, Raytheon Co., as the most advanced vehicle capable of acting as a command center in the event of a crisis.

The First Responder, as big as a sport utility vehicle, features satellite Internet access, phone and streaming video access, and sensors designed to detect harmful chemical and biological materials. In addition, it includes systems to help police, fire and military agencies communicate. The U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems PLC presented similar technologies being used by special forces in the Navy.

It's fancy stuff, but not every company yesterday was going high tech. Many products illustrated that a breach of the nation's security can begin with something as simple as a stolen key.

The Equipment Lock Company of Hedgesville, W.Va., makes steel locks to place on construction equipment, such as bulldozers. Similar to the popular Club lock used in cars, these steel contraptions make starting and moving equipment nearly impossible. They are particularly useful in the building industry, company spokesman Bryan Witchey said, because one key is often used for every piece of machinery on a construction site.

Other uncomplicated products pitched as homeland security solutions yesterday included Toby's Nose Filters, which, when placed in the nostrils, can filter out everything from secondhand smoke to allergens and bad odors, the company says. Developed with the help of National Aeronautics and Space Administration researchers, the filters are available at any drugstore.


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