George Nethercutt is an american politician, author, consultant, columnist, and commentator. Nethercutt is the founder and chairman of The George Nethercutt Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the civics and leadership education of college students. Nethercutt also serves as an advisor for Armored Things, a Boston-based startup developing physical security and operations software.

Armored Things: At Armored Things, we talk a lot about the bridge between cyber and physical security. In your experience, have you seen a change in the way that people talk about physical and cyber security?

George Nethercutt: Yes, I have. Based on attendance at public events in particular, ranging from sports to church, there is a heightened sense that there are people out there who might want to do  harm. We’ve seen cyber security help prevent tragedies, and I believe that it is increasingly important for  people to pay attention to both cyber and physical security of their venues and events.

AT: You have been vocal in the past about Congress not becoming complacent against crime because the risk of waiting to respond to attacks after they happen is too great - do you feel that technology is the next step in preventing and responding to crime more efficiently?

GN: Technology is part of the answer. There are some 400 systems in the Department of Defense (DOD) that are critical and experience attempted hacks daily. Cyber security can help in preventing those attacks. We are clear that good security practices can minimize the impact on individuals’ lives when there are breaches. Technology can play a huge part in physical security, but we can’t be solely dependent on it. Technology can fail, so there also have to be fail-safe backups.

AT: What do you view as role of government in keeping people safe in both their digital and physical lives?

GN: I think the government has resources, information, and the capability to protect individuals. It’s incumbent upon the private sector to inform the government of progress they’re making with security technology and understanding of threats to make sure government responds accordingly.

AT: How does the private sector help educate lawmakers about the use of technology for safety?

GN: Private industry has the innovative capabilities to educate lawmakers, who have to take ownership of an issue and pursue it legislatively or otherwise not through government. The government has a great capacity to make change.

AT: Can Armored Things play a role in educating lawmakers, even as an early stage company?

GN: Interaction is valuable. Citizens and companies must engage with lawmakers and government officials to the point where they can take ownership of an issue, whether it’s Armored Things or otherwise. We have to pursue solutions. Companies like Armored Things in the private sector can demand action on the part of public officials, who are accountable and responsible to their constituents to represent them. If they take it on personally, government officials will then make sure the public is well informed. When the public is well informed then the private sector is helped.

AT: What is something that the startup and innovation community doesn’t understand about how to engage with their Congress members?

GN: I think basically innovative people must know how the system works. If they know how it works, they can impact it. According to a recent poll, only 26% can name the three branches of government. This is down from 35% from 6 months ago. It is incumbent upon government officials to help educate the private sector, so everyone can understand how policy changes will affect both the private and public sectors.

I care deeply about the issue. It is imperative to ensure that young people understand foreign policy, lawmaking, and how the government works so they can affect and drive change if they want to.