It’s known as IBISS, the acronym for the Integrated Building Interior Surveillance System. Like its name suggests, it can see through the walls of buildings and sketch out images of what’s inside.
Until this year, IBISS was a classified system, a piece of high-tech wizardry the military used to fight the war on terrorism. The contractor that made the system, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), couldn’t talk about it in public, but that’s changing. IBISS is one of the new products SAIC is hoping to sell to local police stations and fire departments as the defense contractor explores what is known in the industry as “adjacent markets.”
Adjacent markets can mean anything from foreign militaries to the Department of Homeland Security for the industry that makes the computer systems, software, remote sensors, radar and ground stations that comprise Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) for the military.
For the first decade of the war on terrorism, the ISR industry thrived, and companies like SAIC, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin made big profits. Those days are coming to an end though.
On Monday at the annual industry trade conference known as GEOINT, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, broke the news to the assembled contractors: “We are all going to have to share in the pain.” Clapper said, as his office submitted billions of dollars in cuts to the Office of Management and Budget over the next 10 years.
Gulu Gambhir, the chief technology officer for the ISR group of SAIC, said he has seen this day coming. “At SAIC it is certainly no surprise to us that there are pressures on the budget within our key customer space, and we’ve been preparing for these pressures and a potential downturn in certain parts of our ISR market for some time now,” Gambhir told The Daily Beast on Monday.
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he has seen this trend for a while of military technology developed for uses overseas finding their way to local law enforcement.
It now appears SAIC is looking for new ways to utilitze this technology and primarily looking for new customers. This is where the sales of this technology to police and fire departments comes into play.
“In some ways this is the entire trend we’ve been seeing since 9/11. All kinds of capabilities that were developed with an eye to foreign countries are being turned inward upon the American people,” Stanley said. “We’ve seen this with everything from the NSA to spy satellites even to a lot of the technologies that are moving through what is called the green to blue pipeline, which is to say the military to the police.”
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