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ALERT leads Tutorial at IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security April 16, 2015

ALERT led one of two tutorials given at the 2015 IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security on April 14th, 2015. The tutorials launched a three day event which included a plenary talk by Dr. Reginald Brothers, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, and four research tracks focused on key homeland security topics:

  • Cyber Security,
  • Attack and Disaster Preparation, Recovery, and Response,
  • Land and Maritime Border Security
  • Biometrics & Forensics.

The tutorial provided an introduction to explosive threat sensing technologies to over 25 representatives from educational institutions, national labs, DHS, and members of the private security industry.

ALERT Director, Prof. Michael Silevitch began the session by providing an overview of ALERT’s mission, research areas, industrial partnerships, and current technology transition efforts.  After a brief Q&A, Jim Smith from the University of Rhode Island discussed how chemicals are classified as explosives and methods of trace detection. Dr. Smith presented what explosives tend to be found in improvised explosive devices and URI’s work in improving the detection of these types of materials. ALERT’s work in vapor detection, explosive residue detection, and canine explosive detection were all discussed.

For the second half of the tutorial, Prof. Octavia Camps presented techniques used within the video analytics domain to detect features, descriptors and invariants (fixed components) in video. She then discussed the process of inference used to classify video data. All of these components are in play in ALERT’s video analytic work. Octavia reviewed the VAST project, a collaboration with Siemens, the TSA and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, by discussing the project’s contraflow (in-the-exit) and tracking in a crowded scene (tag and track) components. Prof. Camps also discussed ALERT’s partnership with VACCINE and the GCRTA to improve detection of known criminals within the rail system through video re-identification.

Carl Crawford closed the session with a presentation on X-ray based and millimeter wave detection technologies. After discussing the history of threats to air travel and current scanning processes, Dr. Crawford covered how false alarm rates are a substantial barrier to current technologies and what ALERT and its partners are doing to lessen its impact. ALERT technologies including detection diffraction systems, real time tomography systems, and active millimeter wave systems were presented by Dr. Crawford. ALERT’s work with third parties such as national labs, DHS security vendors and other academic intuitions to improve scanning rates and generate non-SSI research datasets were also highlighted.

The diverse audience engaged with center representatives regarding current ALERT partnerships, available research datasets, and in the field research projects. The tutorial included a productive discussion on the barriers of transitioning technology and opportunities for future collaborations in the tutorial’s domain. ALERT looks forward to continuing to support the Homeland Security Enterprise through events such as the IEEE Symposium.

COE students & industry partners network, make connections at 2015 ASPIRE April 10, 2015

Held on April 7, 2015, the fourth Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event, otherwise known as ASPIRE, successfully brought together two of ALERT’s key components, industrial partners and students of all levels currently involved in center research, as a means of continuing to build strong collaborations and provide networking opportunities. This year’s ASPIRE took place at Northeastern University and included students from six academic partner institutions and representatives from nine industrial collaborators. The 2015 ASPIRE was also the first to feature representation from a government agency, the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL).

Borne out of a more than fifteen-year-long tradition that ALERT and its predecessor, the Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems, has of close collaboration with industry members, ASPIRE’s mission is for industrial partners to introduce their companies, products and needs to one another, to our faculty and to our diverse student population. ASPIRE aligns with the Center’s ongoing efforts to create robust partnerships within our industrial base, while also giving students the opportunity to network as they transition through academia and into the Homeland Security Enterprise.

The 2015 ASPIRE was once again curated by the Center Industrial and Government Liaison Officer, Emel Bulat. Center Director, Michael Silevitch was on-hand to launch the event and welcome the attendees. Industry members gave 8-minute presentations, followed by 2-minute presentations made by students.  ASPIRE was able to expand student participation this year through virtual presentations made by individuals that could not travel to Boston. In the afternoon, students, faculty and industry met face-to-face during a three-hour networking session. The session activities included poster presentations by students, 10-minute roundtable “get-to-know-you” discussions amongst attendees and a closing reception.

It is our hope that connections made at events, such as ASPIRE, will continue to foster alliances within the COE between students, faculty, government and industry. We expect that such collaborations will produce responses to market opportunities, including government solicitations such as Broad Agency Announcements and Request for Proposals, and eventually result in effective technology transfer.

Prof. Octavia Camps and Prof. Richard Radke, Presented at the Eighth ACM/IEEE International Conference on Distributed Smart Cameras December 4, 2014

ALERT researchers, Prof. Octavia Camps, Northeastern University, and Prof. Richard Radke, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, presented their team’s ALERT research at the 8th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Distributed Smart Cameras (ICDSC). Prof. Camps gave a keynote address, titled, “Structured Robust PCA and Dynamics-Based Invariants for Multi-Camera Video Understanding,” and Prof. Radke presented his talk, titled, “Real-World Re-Identification in an Airport Camera Network.” The conference was held on November 4th – 7th, in Venice, Italy.

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ALERT Hosted the Eleventh Workshop on Advanced Development for Security Applications (ADSA11) November 10, 2014

ALERT hosted it’s eleventh ADSA Workshop last week on November 4th and 5th, at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. This workshop, titled, “Explosives Detection in Air Cargo – Part II,” was a continuation of the previous ADSA10 workshop focus, and was attended by over 150 representatives from government, academia, and industry. Following the workshop, ALERT invited participants to attend the ATR Development for CT-Based EDS (Task Order 4) Program Review, on November 6th, 2014. The ADSA12 workshop is tentatively planned for the spring of 2015. For more information on these events, please contact alert-info@coe.neu.edu.

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ALERT Renames the ADSA workshops August 13, 2014

We are pleased to announce the renaming of the ADSA workshops from “Algorithm Development for Security Applications” to “Advanced Development for Security Applications.” This change reflects the fact that the scope of these workshops has expanded well beyond algorithms as the series has progressed.

For example, the following topics for development are now being addressed in these workshops: 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 acronym for the workshops, ADSA, will remain the same.

The Eleventh ADSA Workshop (ADSA11) has been scheduled for November 4th and 5th at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  The title of the workshop will be “Explosive Detection in Cargo for Aviation Security – Part II.”

ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Hosts the 3rd ASPIRE to promote Student and Industry Networking April 18, 2014

The 3rd ASPIRE (Annual Student Pipeline to Industry Roundtable Event), hosted by ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS, was held on April 16th, 2014. Soon-to-be-graduating students were given the opportunity to present their research work and career goals to our ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) members. Six graduate students presented, one from Boston University (an ALERT partner institution), and five from Northeastern University.

VAST program featured on fedscoop.com February 14, 2014

ALERT’s VAST program which resulted from a partnership with the TSA and CLE airport is discussed in an article featured on fedscoop.com in “Researchers solve major security problem for airports”.
The VAST effort is addressing the needs of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to monitor and intercept threats by individuals to airport security. ALERT, the TSA Ohio Senior Federal Security Director, and the Commissioner of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport collaborated with ALERT researchers, Siemens Corporate Research and TSA practitioners in 2011 to develop and deploy “in-the-exit” and “tag-and-track” solutions at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
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ALERT Phase 2 is Launched! November 18, 2013

On Tuesday, October 22, ALERT hosted representatives from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate for a ceremony to launch its second phase of funding. In ALERT’s next 5 years, Northeastern University takes the lead, strategically partnered with Boston University, Purdue University and the University of Rhode Island to carry out its mission to develop effective response to explosives-related threats.

Representing Northeastern University, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Stephen Director started out the ceremony expressing his happiness to continue the relationships with the core partner universities and welcomes working with new partners like Purdue University. He mentioned that the work done at ALERT which is translational and used directly in the field, exists in Pasteur’s Quadrant – it seeks to understand fundamental science while also being beneficial to society. He then handed off the microphone to Department of Homeland Security Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Daniel Gerstein.

Gerstein recognized ALERT Director, Michael Silevitch and ALERT Phase 1 Co-Director Jimmie Oxley for their award, stating that another 5 years of funding was validation for the work that has gone on at the Center. He noted that ALERT is a consortium that creates innovation through basic research and is constantly trying to work together to fix today’s problems. Gerstein was followed up by Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Office of University Programs Director, Matt Clark, who asked that the universities keep supporting ALERT, highlighting that it’s the partnerships that actually make a change.

Statements by the officials were followed up by brief comments by leadership of each of the core universities who all stated their optimistic vision for the next 5 years. Representatives included University of Rhode Island Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Gerald Sonnenfeld, Boston University Vice President and Associate Provost for Research, Gloria Waters, and a letter sent by Purdue University Vice President for Research, Richard Buckius.

The ALERT team looks forward to the new partnership and another successful 5 years as a Center of Excellence. ALERT’s next phase will also include partnering with other Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence as it works to carry out its mission.

ALERT is Now Active on Twitter November 17, 2013

We are pleased to announce that we are now active on Twitter! This is a new and exciting way for us to deliver information to you that is relevant to the ALERT mission. Feel free to follow us at @ALERTCOE, and tweet any information that you feel is relevant to us. We’ll be happy to look it over and re-tweet it if appropriate.

Fall 2013 ASPIRE – Nov. 19th November 8, 2013

The Fall 2013 ASPIRE (Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event) will be held on Tuesday, November 19th at Northeastern University in the Ballroom in the Curry Student Center. ASPIRE is hosted by The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (Gordon-CenSSIS) and the ALERT(Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) Center of Excellence.  ASPIRE provides an optimum setting for dialog among members of the academic, industrial and government communities and is intended to provide networking opportunities for ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS students looking for internships, co-op opportunities and full-time jobs. 

THIS EVENT REQUIRES REGISTRATION.
If you are interested in attending or would like further information about ASPIRE or Gordon-CenSSIS, please email Melanie Smith at m.smith@neu.edu.

The topic for this November’s event will be “Graduating STEM Students or the Lack Thereof.”  In the coming decade, many Baby Boomers will retire leaving industry scrambling to replace technical expertise in the US workforce. We would like to discuss this crisis and jointly consider possible solutions.

Three Panel Discussions
With this in mind, we will host three panel discussions led by faculty moderators to obtain the perspectives of the following key stakeholder groups:

  • Industry
  • Graduate Students
  • K-14 Pre-College Community

Industrial Members Posters
Following the panel discussions, our ALERT Industrial members will be presenting posters during a networking session focused on their upcoming human resource needs, future product or company development plans and exciting employment opportunities within their companies.

Key topics for discussion will include:

Why are large numbers of Americans not continuing their quest for higher education in STEM fields?

– Cost of education?
– Career Earnings & Compensation packages?
– Competing professions where compensation/reward vs education level is more attractive?

What issues do International students face during their education and upon graduation that make it difficult to use their degrees in the US?

What are the needs of our member companies in terms of workforce development and what educational or recruitment efforts can help with these needs?

How can Industry and Academia work together to attract talented students into STEM fields and provide them with viable career opportunities?