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From the Editor's Desk
Toward Confidence in an Uncertain World

As I write this editorial, I am just about ready to leave for a flight to Los Angeles, Calif. This will be my first cross-country trip since Sept. 11, 2001, and so, especially with the recent holiday disruptions in air travel due to security concerns, homeland security has been on my mind.

For many Americans, it doesn’t matter anymore that thousands of airplanes take off and land safely every day, that people go to work in high-rises and military installations around the country and come home to their families every night. Because of that day in September over two years ago, many Americans now share an almost unconscious but very real sense with much of the rest of the world that terrorists can strike again, at home, at any moment. As do citizens in every other threatened country, we get on with our lives, although “getting on” is accomplished with a hopeful reliance, somewhere at the back of our mind, on the responsiveness of government agencies, whether we like it or not.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the government agency tasked with coordinating all efforts to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. It’s a big job, and one of the things government leaders and security specialists have learned in the past two-and-a-half years is that homeland security is an unobtainable goal without coordination. From the interoperability of respiration devices used by first responders, to standard ratings for crash barriers used at the entrances to government and military installations, the need for standardization within and among all homeland security-related industries is vast.

ASTM International has come to play a role in this massive coordination effort through the formation of its new standards-developing Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications. The committee was formed through the shared interest of existing ASTM Committee F33 on Detention and Correctional Facilities, the Department of Homeland Security, and a variety of security industry professionals in creating one place in ASTM where standards could be developed for homeland security applications and where all relevant standards development activity within the Society’s various related technical committees could be coordinated. Of special note is the emphasis that the new committee is placing on maintaining active liaison with other ASTM committees such as F33, F12 on Security Systems and Equipment, F23 on Protective Clothing, E30 on Forensic Sciences, and others.

This month’s feature section includes articles that cover both E54’s anticipated needs for standardization, such as those in the medical and public health professions, and very specific homeland security standards being developed right now. Standard by standard, stakeholders in the security industry are making it easier and easier for citizens and travelers like me to feel a little more confident moving around in a world that feels a good deal more dangerous than it used to.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

Copyright 2004, ASTM International