Cornell Professor Vogel: Academia and intelligence communities need new approach

Cornell University Department of Science and Technology Studies Associate Professor Kathleen Vogel said on Thursday that engagement between academia and intelligence communities is needed.

Vogel said in an Op-Ed for Virtual Biosecurity Center that new intelligence is available, and for it to be fully integrated and used, the two research communities need to come together.

"Specific concerns have arisen that advances in the life sciences and biotechnology have made bioweapons capabilities accessible to an increasing number of actors, including not just individuals linked to terrorist organizations but also garage bio-hackers, proverbial "mad scientists," and other bio-criminals," Vogel said. "The danger that violent non-state actors will acquire and use powerful weapons to kill, injure, or simply disrupt life for a large number of people remains one of the foremost national security concerns in this environment."

She said a new model for communications between the intelligence community and academia is needed. One suggestion is a model that would explain changes and modes of technology in biotechnology and life sciences. The model would map specific threats, which would take into account social, economic, organizational and network factors.

Vogel said another issue is integrating new analytics into current culture and work practices.

"In this work environment, intelligence analysts are consumed daily with having to keep up with producing current intelligence reports for a variety of policy customers-a demanding task that comes at the expense of developing long-term, in-depth analytic programs," Vogel said.

Vogel said it is useful for analysts to consider how new approaches can be integrated into intelligence units, and what work would be required to make the change.

"This type of engagement can also be beneficial to academic scholars because it allows them to better understand practical, working-level and institutional challenges that face intelligence analysts in bringing new ideas, techniques, and tools to their work," Vogel said.