Modern Technology in the Fight for Our Safety: Homeland Security Evolves

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While teaching in the EKU Homeland Security Program, Dr. Ryan Baggett, Dr. Chad Foster, and Dr. Brian Simpkins recognized the significance of technologies in the pursuit of safety and security. This led them to publish their textbook entitled Homeland Security Technologies for the 21st Century. The textbook covers how technology has transformed the field of homeland security.

Technological advancements have propelled the field of homeland security forward. Technology has changed what tools are being used to maintain a safe society — a foundational necessity for achieving prosperity. From thermal cameras to social media, the world of homeland security looks different than it did years ago.

Thermal Cameras

We are living in unprecedented times with the rise of COVID-19. Authorities are turning to innovative technologies as a tool for protecting against the spread of this novel virus.

Thermal cameras, for example, are being used to measure heat in public places to help determine if people have fevers – a common symptom of COVID-19. While not yet widely adopted in the United States, China and South Korea have utilized this technology in most public places.  Thermal cameras are stationed at the entrances of grocery stores, within airports, and outside retail stores. People are asked before entering the building to stand before a camera that will measure the heat radiating off of their skin to determine if they have a fever. The producers of thermal cameras have claimed that the readings are accurate with a margin of error of one-half degree Celsius.

COVID-19 has led to a resurgence in demand for thermal cameras since their use in the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak. Advocates for thermal camera imaging argue that this is one of the most proactive uses of technology at the moment to create a feeling of safety and control in such a tumultuous and uncertain time. However, this technology has been met with concern from health professionals. The World Health Organization warns that taking a person’s temperature may not be the most effective way of detecting COVID-19. The hesitation stems from the fact that many infected people are asymptomatic, symptomatic without a fever, or experience mild symptoms that may evade detection. The European Commission even argued in 2014 that thermal camera imaging is not effective in gauging fevers because it cannot accurately detect inner body temperature, only the temperature of the skin. While this technology creates a feeling of progression in the fight against COVID-19, health professionals warn that there is still a need for caution and social distancing to beat this pandemic.

Social Media

Social media has become a critical tool in homeland security as a means of sharing and publishing information, as well as in acquiring information. Social media has been used to notify the public of emergencies and pressing situations to keep them safe. It has been used to notify the public of nearby chemical leaks or alert people to a missing person or warn people of potentially dangerous and credible threats within their communities.

Social media is not only important in homeland security for sharing information, but also for acquiring information. Police officers and those in homeland security can take to Facebook or Twitter to gain knowledge, leads, or general information from eye-witnesses. Social media was a critical means of acquiring evidence in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. Due to being such a public and widely attended event, police were able to reach out to those sharing on social media about the bombing to gain information that would lead to an arrest. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says, “Social media and collaborative technologies have become critical components of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.”

Technology’s role in homeland security is an essential topic, which is why the EKU homeland security program offers courses specifically designed to explore these various technologies. With advancements being made in the tech industry every day, the ways that experts work to maintain a safe society will continuously evolve.


Interested in the homeland security field and learning more about how technology is being used to keep you and your loved ones safe?

Earn your online bachelor’s degree from a SACSCOC accredited university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years. EKU’s online homeland security program prepares graduates to protect critical infrastructure, respond to natural and man-made disasters, implement the latest security technology, and provide for our nation’s intelligence and counterterrorism needs. 

To learn more about our online homeland security degrees and certificates complete the learn more form or check out our Homeland Security Program. 

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