How has Technology Changed Since 9/11?
With the anniversary of one of our country’s most tragic recent events growing near, it’s a good opportunity to honor and remember those we lost.
It’s also a good time to reflect on the way this event has impacted our country’s developments in technology and what is being done to prevent another occurrence from taking place:
Fortunately, technological advancements, unified communications, and security have come a long way since 2001, but there is still so much to be done. This disaster has had a major impact on how the U.S. prioritizes investments and the approach we take when it comes to making more advances.
Let’s take a glance at how things have changed since then.
An increase in intelligence budgets
For the sake of security, the government has decided to invest more money in intelligence endeavors. To be exact, we spent $52.6 billion on intelligence in 2013. Other areas where significant progress has been made are in border control, visas, and airline security.
Anyone who has flown in the past 14 years knows that flying is more restrictive than ever, with airports using top-of-the-line screening devices to ensure no weapons are brought aboard aircrafts. Better scanners, facial recognition systems and other advanced imaging systems introduced over the past decade have certainly improved security at our nation's airports and other important locations.
The US-Visit system now uses digital fingerprints and photographic images to identify people entering the country’s borders. This money has also gone towards foreign hacking projects, surveilling our phone and internet usage, and more. This is known as the Black Budget.
Wireless network technologies
A new technology for emergency situations called ad hoc wireless technology has also emerged, allowing computers, cell phones, business phones, and other devices to communicate with one another, as well as with a main router or server.
This new technology ensures that if a main server is disrupted, as it was in 9/11, computers and other devices could form networks with one another to keep communications intact.
Military counter-terrorism technologies
A number of new technologies have been developed, making military forces more effective in their counter-terrorism missions. Ground forces now utilize new systems to cope with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction.
The Air Force can now perform what would have previously been considered dangerous missions with next-generation drone aircraft technology, operated from secure locations, a safe distance from targeted sites.
Social media usage in controlled societies
The citizens of countries like Iran, Syria, and Egypt never had much of a soapbox due to restrictions on printing presses and broadcast licenses. Since 2001, though, social media has absolutely exploded, and sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have made their way into these tightly-controlled spaces.
Protests in these countries have been broadcasted live on social media, whether through Twitter updates or directly on video, and social media has created a shockwave around the globe. Now that the majority of people have smartphones, it’s much more difficult to regulate who posts what and where. Imagine what this would have been like in the months surrounding 9/11.
The spread of activism
Rallies and protests are in no shortage, but because our world has become so connected, word of major issues spreads much faster. Now, news of racially charged police shootings and sexism in politics, to name a few, can go viral in minutes, meaning more people are informed about more topics and have more opinions about it. This has created a sort of virtual activism that would have been difficult to imagine 14 years ago.
It’s clear that critical investments in technology have been made to counter terrorism and help protect our nation, but there is always more that can be done. With the continuous development in technology both at the government and consumer levels, it will be interesting to see what technology emerges in the next few years in regards to our country’s security and communications.
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