News & Events
Research

Summer 2018 REU Program July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

This summer, ALERT is hosting seven undergraduate students who are participating in the 10-week long Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. At Northeastern University, two students are working with Professor Carey Rappaport (Project R3-A.2, Project R3-A.3), and three students are working with Professor Jose Martinez Lorenzo (Project R3-B.1, Project R3-B.2). ALERT is also hosting two students at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez who are doing research with Professor Samuel Hernandez (Project R3-C), and one student at Duke University who is working with Professor Joel Greenberg (Project R1-C.3).

The ALERT REU Program at Northeastern University collaborates with other REU programs in the College of Engineering to build a cohort of students who jointly attend professional development meetings and program activities. At the end of the summer, each REU creates a research poster and presents a final presentation on their research project. These deliverables address the project’s overall mission and endeavors, the REU’s specific contributions to the project, as well as the knowledge and skills they gained from the experience.

If you are interested in hearing more about the experiences of past REU students, please check out our short video: “ALERT Undergraduate Research in the AIT Lab at Northeastern University.”

Caption: REU students, Diego Rojas and Alexis Costales, conduct research in Professor Jose Martinez Lorenzo’s laboratory at Northeastern University.

2018 DHS COE Summit Facilitates Collaboration and Advances DHS Mission July 31, 2018

ALERT, along with other current and emeritus DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs), hosted the 2018 Centers of Excellence Summit in Arlington, Virginia on May 30-31, 2018. The event focused on the topic of “University Research and Development to Protect the Homeland.” The DHS COE Summit provided the Centers of Excellence an opportunity to showcase their innovative solutions to homeland security challenges and facilitate collaboration across homeland security enterprise leadership and component end-users and industry participants. According to ALERT Center Director, Michael B. Silevitch,

 “One of the most valuable aspects of the Summit was the teamwork needed to pull it together. It required a concerted effort by all of the COEs to organize and orchestrate the event. Going forward, this teamwork will lead to meaningful cross-center collaboration.”

The agenda for the two-day long summit was launched with a keynote address from Christopher C. Krebs, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and included talks by various security administrators, panel discussions, student posters, and a technology showcase.

Director Silevitch moderated a panel focused on “Transportation and Critical Infrastructure” on the first day of the summit. Panelists Carl Crawford, Eva Lee, David Nicol, and Detlof VonWinterfeldt addressed four questions related to this topic:

  • What are some of the grand challenges that need to be addressed to enable the next generation of Homeland Security transportation and critical infrastructure solutions?
  • What research needs to be done in order to address these challenges?
  • How can the research outcomes be effectively transitioned to the field?
  • What metrics can be used to enable a cost-benefit analysis of the research/transition impact?

ALERT’s Transition Team made connections with end users at the technology showcase and featured some of ALERT’s latest solutions in multi-view air cargo CT scanners, effective personnel screening, video tracking at the airport security checkpoint, and K9 explosives training aids.

COEs excel in advancing the state of the art thanks in large part to their student researchers. To acknowledge this, the summit provided students with the opportunity to present their work to attendees. Katherine Graham, one of ALERT’s talented undergraduate researchers, took home the Best Poster Award for her work on “Compressive Reflector Antennas for High-Sensing Capacity Imaging Applications.” These antenna designs provide a less complex and lower cost solution for high-sensing capacity millimeter wave imaging systems. Millimeter wave  imaging systems have the potential for use in several near-field imaging applications such as security screening, non-destructive testing, autonomous driving, and biotechnology. The abstracts for the COE Summit student posters are available for download on the COE Summit 2018 website.

The summit provided an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing homeland security challenges by bringing together some of the nation’s best academic, public, and private sector leaders to discuss strategies for advancing the mission of the Department of Homeland Security. ALERT looks forward to the next DHS COE Summit, and hopes you will join us there!

ALERT Launches New Workshop Series July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

The first Advanced Development for Security Applications for Customs and Border Protection (ADSA-CBP-01) Workshop occurred on June 20-21, 2018 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. This workshop, an offshoot of the original ALERT ADSA Workshop series, brought together 120 attendees from government, industry, and academia to discuss key problem areas in port security, as well as current technology and potential improvements; brainstorm the future state of cargo security; and identify future technology concepts.

The ADSA-CBP-01 Workshop addressed problem solving for the following venues, threats, and stakeholders:

  • Ports of entry: mail, parcel, airports, ships, rails, and land crossing
  • Transportation: aircraft, rail, cars, trucks, ships, and pedestrians
  • Threats: persons and/or contraband (narcotics, agriculture products and intellectual property)
  • Stakeholders: DHS-CBP, industry, academia, and national labs

Presentations were given in the following areas of expertise:

  • Scanning technologies
  • Concepts of operation
  • Deterrence and hardening
  • Financial and policy implications

If you were unable to attend the ADSA-CBP-01 Workshop, presentations from the two-day event are available for download.

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 Directorate and the Customs and Borders Protection Office of Field Operations through the DHS Office of University Programs.

The next installment of this workshop series, ADSA-CBP-02, is planned for March 2019. These workshops are by invitation only; however, if you are interested in attending, please inquire with ALERT at alert-info@coe.neu.edu.

Presentations from Spring/Summer Workshops and Program Reviews Available Online July 20, 2018

July 20, 2018

We are pleased to announce that the presentations from the Eighteenth Advanced Development for Security Applications Workshop (ADSA18) held on May 15-16, 2018 and the First Advanced Development for Security Applications for Customs and Border Protection Workshop (ADSA-CBP-01) held on June 20-21, 2018 are now available online at the following links:

The presentations from the recent CLASP & AATR Program Reviews (May 17, 2018) are also available online at the following links:

If you have any questions regarding the topics and technologies discussed at these events, please contact ALERT at alert-info@coe.neu.edu.

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.

Time is running out! May 17, 2018

COE Summit Registration Deadline is THIS FRIDAY, May 18th

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2018: University Research & Development to Protect the Homeland

Summit Dates: May 30-31, 2018
Location: George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA

The deadline to register for the 2018 Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit is this Friday, May 18th. Don’t miss this interactive event which brings together researchers, DHS components, industry and first responders to discuss next-generation technology and tools developed to solve homeland security challenges.

This year’s summit features keynotes and discussions with top leaders in homeland security, including:

  • Christopher Krebs, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary,NPPD
  • Corey Gruber, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Response and Recovery, FEMA
  • Darby LaJoye, Assistant Administrator, Office of Security Operations, TSA
  • Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner, CBP
  • Matthew Allen, Assistant Director, Investigative Programs Homeland Security Investigations, ICE
  • William (Bill) Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, DHS S&T
  • Anneli Bergholm Soder, Head of the Operations, Department of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency 
  • Daniel Kaniewski, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency

The COE Summit’s Full Agenda also includes panel sessions on homeland security topics, an innovation showcase and student posters session.

Register HERE by May 18, 2018.  

 

The COE Summit is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COEs). The COE network is a consortium of hundreds of universities that conduct research and education to address homeland security challenges. ALERT is one of nine current Centers of Excellence sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Office of University Programs.

ALERT invites you to the COE Summit on May 30-31, 2018! April 20, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2018 will take place on May 30-31, 2018 at George Mason University in Arlington Virginia. ALERT would like to invite industry partners, researchers, homeland security operators, and other center community members to gather to collaborate on this year’s theme:

University Research & Development to Protect the Homeland

The summit will feature experts on relevant subject matter to discuss homeland security challenges, and facilitate collaboration between COE researchers and DHS leadership, as well as component end-users and industry participants. This year’s summit strives to showcase innovative research and development tools and other solutions to homeland security challenges, and to provide avenues to accelerate transition from research and development to operational use for those who protect the homeland.

The program includes panels with experts, a student poster and innovation showcase, demonstrations of tools and technology, opportunities for collaboration, and an address by William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security.

To register and for more information on the Centers of Excellence Summit 2018, visit the summit’s website – www.cina.gmu.edu/coe-summit-2018

The COE Summit is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COEs). The COE network is a consortium of hundreds of universities that conduct research and education to address homeland security challenges. ALERT is one of nine current Centers of Excellence sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Office of University Programs.

Read More

Professor Rappaport Delivers “Electromagnetic Screening for Airport Security” Lecture February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018

ALERT Deputy Director and Northeastern University Electrical and Computer Engineering Distinguished Professor, Carey Rappaport, gave an invited lecture on February 10th in Princeton, New Jersey. The lecture was part of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Science on Saturday Lecture Series. Titled “Electromagnetic Screening for Airport Security,” it focused on designing an airport scanner using millimeter-wave radar technology that is more accurate and less expensive than the currently employed passenger scanners, and which will provide images that are so clear it will be unnecessary to have humans look at the images to determine threats. Science on Saturday features scientists, engineers, and other professionals that are conducting cutting-edge research, and draws hundreds of community members each week.

To learn more about the work Professor Rappaport leads at ALERT, visit our Bulk Sensors & Sensor Systems research page.

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