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ALERT Newsletter

ALERT Research Highlight: The Largest and Most Systematic Re-id Benchmark to Date May 30, 2018

ALERT researchers Professor Octavia Camps (Northeastern University, Project R4-A.1) and Professor Rich Radke (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Project R4-A.3) and their students, Srikrishna Karanam, Mengran Gou, Ziyan Wu, and Angels Rates-Borras, were recently published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) monthly journal, Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (download here). The paper, “A Systematic Evaluation and Benchmark for Person Re-Identification: Features, Metrics, and Datasets,” provides an extensive review and performance evaluation of existing person re-identification algorithms.

Person identification, or re-id, matches observations of individuals across multiple camera views in a network of surveillance cameras, and represents a critical task in most surveillance and security applications.  For example, a police officer may want to automatically follow a person of interest tagged at a check-in counter through the branching concourses of an airport.  The research team’s recent review and evaluation of re-id algorithms helps characterize what re-id algorithms are currently capable of accomplishing, as well as what is missing and what is possible in the future. In this paper, the researchers discuss insights gained from their study, as well as put forth research directions and recommendations for re-id researchers that would help develop better algorithms in the future. Both Professor Camps and Professor Radke are involved with ALERT’s Research Thrust 4, which focuses on video surveillance and the analysis of video data with novel algorithms. This publication was the result of years of research and collaboration between their respective labs.

The fundamental re-id problem is to compare a person of interest as seen in a “probe” camera view to a “gallery” of candidates captured from a camera that does not overlap with the probe camera. If a true match to the probe exists in the gallery, it should have a high matching score, or rank, compared to incorrect candidates. Since the body of research in re-id is increasing, researchers can begin to draw conclusions about the best combinations of algorithmic subcomponents. In this paper, the researchers present a careful, fair, and systematic evaluation of feature extraction, metric learning, and multi-shot ranking algorithms proposed for re-id on a wide variety of benchmark datasets. Their general evaluation framework considers hundreds of combinations of (1) feature extraction and metric learning algorithms for single-shot datasets and (2) feature extraction, metric learning, and multi-shot ranking algorithms for multi-shot datasets.

The research team evaluated 276 algorithm combinations on 10 single-shot re-id datasets and 646 algorithm combinations on 7 multi-shot re-id datasets, making the proposed study the largest and most systematic re-id benchmark to date. Approaches were evaluated using 17 datasets that mimic real world settings, including the ALERT Airport Re-Identification Dataset. As part of the evaluation, the researchers built a public code library with an easy-to-use input/output code structure and uniform algorithm parameters that includes 11 contemporary feature extraction and 22 metric learning and ranking algorithms. Both the code library and the complete benchmark results are publicly available for community use.

ASPIRE 2018: Bringing Students, Industry, and Government Together May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018

The Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) was held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at Northeastern University (Boston, MA). Each year, ASPIRE, hosted by ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) and Gordon-CenSSIS (The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems), brings together members of the academic, industrial, and government communities to engage in dialogue, and provides networking opportunities for ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS students looking for internships, co-op opportunities, and employment.

Participants at ASPIRE 2018 included industry representatives from American Science and Engineering/Rapiscan Systems, Pendar Technologies, Smiths Detection, Raytheon, HXI, and Innovation Business Partners; government representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and ALERT-affiliated graduate students from Boston University, Northeastern University, Purdue University, Texas Tech University, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Notre Dame, and Marquette University. New to this year’s ASPIRE was the participation of non-ALERT students, including graduate students from the Northeastern University Master’s Program in Homeland Security.

The event began in the early afternoon with welcoming remarks from Emel Bulat (ALERT Industrial and Government Liaison Officer), Dr. Michael Silevitch (ALERT Director) and Dr. Laura Parker (DHS ALERT Program Manager). Afterward, industry and government members gave 5-minute presentations on their organizations, research needs, and job openings. Another new aspect of this year’s ASPIRE was a series of 15-minute group networking roundtables where students gained experience giving their 2-minute “elevator pitch” and receiving feedback from their peers and industry/government table hosts. This was followed by 10-minute one-on-one sessions between students and industry/government representatives, as well as one-on-one sessions between industry and government representatives.

Muhammad Usman Ghani, a graduate student from Boston University reflected on the value of participating in ASPIRE:

“As engineers, we don’t always get the chance to polish our networking skills. For example, I can explain a problem to another engineer in one sentence, but a general audience may not get it. This event gives you a chance to speak in a simpler and more general sense. It allows you to think outside of the box, rather than just focusing on solving problems.”

ADSA18 Workshop Addresses Metadata May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018

The Eighteenth Advanced Development for Security Applications (ADSA18) Workshop was held on May 15-16, 2018 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. About 150 participants from academia, industry, and government gathered to engage in dialogue related to the theme of the ADSA18 Workshop: “Collection and Use of Metadata for Improving Aviation Security Systems.”

The ADSA18 Workshop featured more than thirty presentations, including two panel discussions, from subject matter experts and leaders from industry and government over the course of two days. Specific topics discussed included the collection, use, and dissemination of metadata, passenger compliance to supplying and using metadata, and legal and privacy issues related to the topic.

The DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) has convened the ADSA Workshop series since 2009. Originally named the “Algorithm Development for Security Applications” workshop series, the name changed in 2014 following the ADSA10 Workshop to reflect how the scope of the workshop series has expanded beyond algorithms. The purpose of the ADSA Workshop series is to address research opportunities that may enable the development of next-generation systems and to facilitate collaboration and innovation between researchers from academia, national labs, and industry.

Final reports for all previous ADSA Workshops are also available online:  https://myfiles.neu.edu/groups/ALERT/strategic_studies

Training for First Responders – A High ALERT Priority March 30, 2018

March 29, 2018

On January 30th and February 1st, ALERT researcher, Dr. Jimmie Oxley (University of Rhode Island) and her students traveled to Natick, MA to lead a course and field training titled “Explosives Chemistry for Emergency Responders” for twenty-three students from the Massachusetts 1st Civil Support Team (WMD) of the National Guard and the Department of Fire Services HazMat. The purpose of this training was to familiarize the teams with improvised explosives, to drill them in recognition of a variety of threats, and to test their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and detection instrumentation. The field training consisted of three improvised lab scenarios: 1) the drug lab of a “tweaker” who also dabbles in explosives; 2) the workshop of a disgruntled employee who has access to radioactive sources, as well as guns and ammo; 3) a terrorist cell making propaganda videos, explosives, ricin, and mustard. Participants had to decide how best to approach each scenario using their expertise, the information obtained in the class, and their issued instrumentation and PPE. According to Dr. Oxley, “This was a learning experience for both students and teachers. We, the teachers, learned real-life concerns and constraints. They, the students, learned of new potential threats and the appropriate tools in their kits for detecting them. Field training, like this, is essential for readiness at crisis time.”

 

Innovation Business Partners: ALERT’s Newest Industrial Member March 2, 2018

March 29, 2018

ALERT is pleased to welcome Innovation Business Partners, Inc. (IBP) as its newest industrial member. IBP is a small business based in New Jersey that assists organizations and individuals in creating and spreading new knowledge to maximize their value and competitive advantage. They do this through the offering of many services, including innovation training courses, analysis and modeling of innovation networks, and models that create and promote an organizational culture of innovation. By analyzing the innovation networks of organizations and their competition, IBP creates valuable connections so that its clients can share knowledge and become more competitive in their field.

IBP’s clientele spans government and private sectors over a wide variety of topics. IBP is currently working on a pilot study of ALERT’s innovation network baseline and innovation potential. ALERT is looking forward to seeing the output and working further to enhance the ALERT network.

ALERT industrial membership has several advantages. Through various events, ALERT provides members the opportunity to network with other members, faculty from ALERT’s partner institutions, and local, state, and federal representatives. Other advantages of ALERT industrial membership include admission to two members-only events.  First is the Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE), providing industrial members with access to qualified job-seeking students. Second is participation in the ALERT Industrial Advisory Board meeting which involves guest speakers, highlights of successful government-industry-academia collaboration, and networking opportunities. Members also have the opportunity to request targeted research in an area of interest to their organizations; and lastly, ALERT public workshop registration fees are waived. For more advantages of ALERT industrial membership, please see the Benefits of Collaboration, or contact our Industrial and Government Liaison Officer, Ms. Emel Bulat at e.bulat@neu.edu or Ms. Kristy Provinzano at k.provinzano@northeastern.edu.

Photo: Gary Markovitz, CEO of Innovation Business Partners, Inc., presenting at the last Industrial Advisory Board meeting in October 2017. 

Student Spotlight: Muhammad Usman Ghani (Ph.D. Candidate, Boston University) January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018

Muhammad Usman Ghani, a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University, is now in his second year working on ALERT research with Professor Clem Karl. His project, “Advanced Multispectral Computed Tomography (CT) Algorithms” (Project R4-C.1), involves developing learning based algorithms to improve the quality of imaging reconstructions for CT, and applies many areas of his interest, including, machine learning, computer vision, and statistical signal processing. When asked how he initially became interested in ALERT research, he describes an early interest in image processing and machine learning, and states, “The focus of ALERT research is on the cross-roads of inverse problems in imaging and image analysis. Additionally, it is an applied kind of research, which has always driven me. When Professor Karl introduced me to the ALERT research, I instantly became interested.”

A driving force behind his work is his desire to see real world technology applications address the large scale and ever present security challenges faced today. Usman’s goal is to solve various image acquisition and analysis problems, specifically in security scenarios, and is currently working with Professor Karl to draw on big data to develop new machine learning based methods to improve image reconstruction. Outside of research, Usman loves to travel and immerse himself in new cultures, learning about the world’s religions and eating amazing food. When asked where he sees himself in 5-10 years, he is sure research will be part of his career, but has yet to decide if he will stay in academia or work in industry. Either way, his passion for learning and exploring is sure to lead to a rich and exciting future!

“ADSA in Three Words” (Video) January 29, 2018

What began as a relatively small workshop (approximately 30 attendees) on the campus of Northeastern University (Boston, MA) in 2009, has evolved into an interactive biannual conference series with over 150 participants regularly. Viewed by participants as a “forum which brings together many different communities with a common goal of solving security challenges,” (ADSA17 participant quote), the ADSA (Advanced Development for Security Applications) Workshop series intends to facilitate collaboration and innovation between these communities.

At the last ADSA workshop (ADSA17 Workshop), ALERT asked several participants to sum up the biannual event in only three words. See what government, industry, and research participants had to say in “ADSA in Three Words.”

For users without YouTube access: ADSA in Three Words

Save the Date: Upcoming ALERT Spring Events! January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018

Throughout the year, ALERT offers events that provide great networking, training, and technology opportunities to you, our center stakeholders. We hope you put the following events on your spring calendar:

ASPIRE 2018 – April 26, 2018

The Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) will be held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 from 12:00 – 5:00pm at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The ASPIRE series is hosted by the ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) and Gordon-CenSSIS (The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems). ASPIRE provides an optimal setting for dialogue among members of the academic, industrial, and government communities and also provides networking opportunities for ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS students looking for internships, co-op opportunities, and full-time jobs.

Great for Students, Government & Industry.

 

Fundamentals of Explosives Course at University of Rhode Island – May 1-3, 2018

ALERT researcher, Dr. Jimmie Oxley of the University of Rhode Island, will be holding a “Fundamentals of Explosives” course for professionals working in the Homeland Security Enterprise from May 1-3, 2018, with the option of taking a “Laboratory Analysis and Safety” or “Field Instrumentation and Testing” course on May 4, 2018.

The “Fundamentals of Explosives” course examines the chemistry of explosives, the physics of detonation waves, and their initiation, and the issues involved in safe handling and characterizing these. Explosive output and coupling to surroundings with specific application to structural response will be discussed. The course will also address terrorist bombings, the gathering, analysis, and interpretation of evidence, improvised explosives, and explosives detection. Lecturers are internationally known experts. More information about the available courses and registration can be found here.

Great for Students & First Responders.

ADSA18 Workshop – May 15-16, 2018

The Eighteenth Advanced Development for Security Applications (ADSA18) Workshop will be held on May 15-16, 2018 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The theme of the latest ADSA workshop is “Collection and Use of Metadata for Improving Aviation Security Systems.” In addition to the discussion of metadata, presentation topics will include behavior detection, cybersecurity, and DICOS (Digital Imaging and Communications in Security) standards for airport security.

The ADSA Workshop series has been convened by the DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) since 2009. Originally named the “Algorithm Development for Security Applications” workshop series, ALERT changed the name of the workshop series following the ADSA10 Workshop in 2014 to reflect how the scope of these workshops have expanded and evolved beyond algorithms. Today, topics addressed in these workshops include energy sources (e.g. X-ray, neutrons), sensors (e.g. photon counting X-ray detectors, trace), concept of operations, hardening, deterrence, simulants, and testing. The ADSA Workshop series is intended to address research opportunities that may enable the development of next-generation systems and to facilitate collaboration and innovation between researchers from academia, national labs, and industry.

To read the proceedings from previous ADSA Workshops, check out ALERT’s collection of final reports.

Great for Researchers, Government & Industry.

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit 2018 – May 30-31, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit 2018 will convene from May 30-31, 2018 at George Mason University in Arlington, VA. The theme of the summit will be “University Research and Development to Protect the Homeland” and intends to bring together representatives and researchers from the current DHS COEs and their stakeholders. The goals of the summit include providing subject matter experts to discuss current and future homeland security challenges; showcasing innovative R&D tools and solutions to homeland security challenges; facilitating collaboration between DHS COEs and end users; and providing avenues to accelerate the transition of R&D to reality for those who protect the homeland. For more details and to register visit: https://cina.gmu.edu/coe-summit-2018/

Great for Students, Researchers, Government & Industry.

 

Advanced Development for Security Applications for Customs and Border Protection Workshop (ADSA-CBP-01)

The first Advanced Development for Security Applications for Customs and Border Protection  (ADSA-CBP-01) workshop will be held on June 20-21, 2018 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  This workshop stems from the ALERT ADSA Workshop series. The ADSA-CBP-01 workshop is convened by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence (COE) for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) at Northeastern University. ALERT is supported by the DHS Science and Technology and Customs and Borders Protection Office of Field Operations through the DHS Office of University Programs.

Great for Researchers, Government & Industry.

 

ALERT Attends AAAE/TSA/DHS Aviation Security Summit January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018

ALERT representatives attended the 17th Annual AAAE/DHS/TSA Aviation Security Summit on December 5-6, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. The AAAE/TSA/DHS Aviation Security Summit is an annual event, held in cooperation by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The intention of the intensive day and a half conference was to bring together senior leadership from DHS and other components of the Homeland Security Enterprise, airport operators, and other key figures working in security policy and operations to review the complex issues surrounding aviation security today and to look ahead to challenges on the horizon.

The latest installment of the summit was well attended, with over 300 representatives from government, airlines, airports, and the equipment industry. The conference featured keynote speakers from the Homeland Security Enterprise, 15 exhibitors, and an engaging Airport Security Shark Tank that provided start-up companies with an opportunity to present their solutions for enhancing airport security and obtain feedback from the industry’s most valuable public and private customers. As a result of attending the summit, ALERT was able to make valuable connections with participating airlines and hopes to build meaningful collaborations on aviation security in the future.

For those who are interested, the next AAAE/DHS/TSA Aviation Security Summit will be held December 4-5, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. The “Save the Date” and more information can be found here.

Fundamentals of Explosives Course at University of Rhode Island – May 1-3, 2018 January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018

ALERT researcher, Dr. Jimmie Oxley of the University of Rhode Island, will be holding a “Fundamentals of Explosives” course for professionals working in the Homeland Security Enterprise from May 1-3, 2018, with the option of taking a “Laboratory Analysis and Safety” or “Field Instrumentation and Testing” course on May 4, 2018.

The “Fundamentals of Explosives” course examines the chemistry of explosives, the physics of detonation waves, and their initiation, and the issues involved in safe handling and characterizing these. Explosive output and coupling to surroundings with specific application to structural response will be discussed. The course will also address terrorist bombings, the gathering, analysis, and interpretation of evidence, improvised explosives, and explosives detection. Lecturers are internationally known experts. More information about the available courses and registration can be found here.