During the run-up to the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, PeopleSoft, the enterprise resource planning software company, became the latest in a growing list of vendors to release a version of their technology specifically designed to help in the US-led war against terrorism. PeopleSoft’s new ‘Guardian’ software suite will allow government officials to monitor the hiring, movement and training of emergency workers.
But the Californian company’s sales people must join the back of a long queue of technology companies and individual entrepreneurs seeking to sell their wares to the government.
The Pentagon, for one, has received more than 12,000 high-tech ideas from companies and individuals since the attacks. In-Q-Tel, the CIA-backed venture capital fund, is getting 150 business proposals a month. There is even a Boston-based VC, called Patriot Ventures, which is investing only in anti-terrorism technology projects.
To most observers, this mobilisation of much of Silicon Valley has been a commendable and public-spirited act of patriotism. But to some – particularly within liberal sections of Europe’s high-tech elite – it has smacked of cynical war profiteering.
What is certain is that big bucks are to be made. In 2003, the US government is expected to spend $40 billion (€40.8bn) on homeland security.