BostonGlobe.com Looks at ALERT’s Advances in Precursor Control May 11, 2016
Dr. Oxley’s research in Characterization of Explosives & Precursors (R1-A1) is discussed in “Defusing Hydrogen Peroxide” a feature in the Ideas section of bostonglobe.com. Prof. Oxley speaks of the method she has developed to chemically alter commonly found Hydrogen Peroxide so it is no longer useful as a component in explosives.
Defusing hydrogen peroxide
May 10, 2016 – Brainiac Section of www.bostonglobe.com
In March, suicide bombers in Brussels killed dozens and injured hundreds more. Their dramatic attack caught the world’s attention, but the material used couldn’t have been more ordinary — an explosive called TATP that can be made by distilling the same hydrogen peroxide sitting in your medicine cabinet.
Jimmie Oxley at the University of Rhode Island thinks she has an idea that could make such attacks far more difficult to execute — and she has filed a patent for it. The idea is to mix hydrogen peroxide with trace amounts of additional chemicals, so that it retains its usefulness as an antiseptic, but can no longer be distilled to make a bomb…
Date: May 19, 2016
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Washington, DC
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Office of University Programs and Stevens Institute of Technology invite you to attend the Spring 2016 Centers of Excellence(COE) Technology Showcase May 19, 2016 open 9:00 am- 4:00 pm.
Explore tools and technology or talk to experts in: Border Security – Explosives Detection – Risk and Economic Analysis – Natural Hazards – Data & Visual Analytics – Food Defense – Terrorism Studies – Animal Disease Defense – Maritime and Arctic Security – Critical Infrastructure Resilience – Training Opportunities – Hosting Interns – Working with the COEs
Experience demonstrations of COE tools, technologies, knowledge products
Connect with university experts (one-on-one if desired) to discuss pressing challenges
Develop new collaborations to support homeland security missions
Meet the newest COEs focused on Arctic security; critical infrastructure resilience; and borders, trade and immigration
Learn how to bring interns and professional development opportunities to your office
Student Spotlight: Srikrishna Karanam April 29, 2016
Srikrishna Karanam, an ALERT Ph.D. student in Computer and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has been “Searching for people in camera networks,” (the title of his doctoral thesis) with his faculty advisor, Prof. Richard Radke, for over three years.
As described by Srikrishna, “The overall goal of the project is to design and develop a system, called tag and track, to assist TSA officials in detecting and tracking persons of interest in critical and busy environments such as airports. My role is to develop and implement the underlying algorithms that drive the system.” (To see the related ALERT 101 video, click here).
After completing his Bachelor of Technology degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Warangal in India, Srikrishna joined RPI as a Master’s student, initially involved in tracking people as they moved in videos, before joining ALERT’s video analytics research team.
When asked what about his work drives him, he states, “I am very passionate about algorithmic research being actually used to solve real-world problems. My involvement with ALERT has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to develop algorithms and systems keeping real-world constraints in mind… How do we ensure that the system works efficiently in such cases and does not ‘lose’ the person being tracked in the crowd? This is one of the several questions I want to address going forward.”
Naturally, there have been challenges along the way. Srikrishna and his team worked to design a user-friendly system so that someone unfamiliar with Computer Vision was able to utilize the software. He states that, “The system had to work in real-time on live video feeds in the airport, so developing efficient and optimized algorithms was critical.” As a result of his work, he has authored and co-authored 9 papers (including 1 journal article and 5 conference papers in press, as well as several submitted).
When asked about his experience working with Prof. Radke, he says, “I have immensely enjoyed working with Prof. Radke. He has given me a lot of independence in developing ideas for my dissertation, and I feel that has helped me grow as a researcher.”
After he completes his Ph.D., Srikrishna hopes to transition to industry, with the goal of continuing his work with Computer Vision, and finding the opportunity to implement both basic and applied research.
Of the impact his participation in the program has had on this research interests, Srikrishna states, “ALERT’s emphasis on transitioning laboratory research to real-world solutions has had a huge impact on my research philosophy. Now, when I think of possible solution approaches to a certain problem, ensuring that my approach is adaptable to real-world scenarios is a top priority.”
Northeastern News spotlights ALERT research in Airport Security Technologies April 28, 2016
FUTURE OF AIRPORT SECURITY – Northeastern News, 4/28/2016
According to the International Air Transport Association, about 8 million travelers make their way through airports around the world each day. Traditional security requires passengers to stand still while being screened, but Northeastern researchers are developing cutting-edge technology that can detect suspicious behavior—even when passengers are on the move…
Profs. Camps, Martinez, Radke, Rappaport, and Sznaier’s work is featured in this dynamic video story.
The Associated Press features ALERT Researcher Otto Gregory’s work February 17, 2016
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — A University of Rhode Island professor has developed a sensor that detects the kind of explosive used in the Paris bombings, to try to stop future attacks.
Professor Otto Gregory compares his sensor to a dog’s nose, the gold standard in explosives detection. It “sniffs” the air for vapors emitted from explosives.
Photo Description: In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 photo University of Rhode Island engineering professor Otto Gregory, right, is reflected in a silicon wafer, center, that contains sensors to detect explosives, in front of a thin film surface analyzer, behind, in a laboratory on the school’s campus, in South Kingstown, R.I. He has developed a sensor that detects the explosive used in the Paris bombings, to try to stop future attacks. Gregory compares his sensor to a dog’s nose, the gold standard in explosives detection. It “sniffs” the air for vapors emitted from explosives. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
DHS S&T hosts “The Nose Knows” Twitter Chat 12/17, 12pm December 17, 2015
Join the @dhsscitech#STTechTalk “The Nose Knows” Thursday December 17th at noon EST. Tune in and chat about improving canine explosives detection.
The Nose Knows: The Science of Threat Detection Canines
Did you know dogs’ noses are a million times more sensitive than a human’s nose? Dogs can be trained to detect a wide variety of specific scents, such as drugs, fruits, and explosives and are trained to alert their handlers to the presence of these hazardous items by pawing, barking or, in the case of something dangerous, sitting or lying quietly.
Canines have been used by law enforcement agencies for decades to alert their handlers to threats or objects of interest. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Canine Program is working with DHS partners, including the Transportation Security Administration, other federal agencies, and state and local first responders to provide independent verification of canine teams’ performance, as well as ways to enhance overall detection capability…
If you have any questions regarding the topics and technologies discussed at the workshop, please contact Carl Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALERT researchers work to develop robust Canine Training Aids December 16, 2015
Because of their volatility, explosives are rarely used pure, they are often mixed with other materials such as polymers. Explosives are exposed to polymers for a variety of reason: (1) when they are “plasticized” for shaping; (2) when they are encased for safe handling, (e.g. dog training aids); and (3) when they are collected for forensic evidence or storage. ALERT has focused on finding the best materials for developing devices such as these.
As a result of our study of polymer/HME interactions, ALERT researchers have developed a method of polymer encapsulation that is used to create safe trace explosive sources for canine and instrument training. Polycarbonate microspheres containing only a low percentage of TATP have been demonstrated to last for years, yet produce pure TATP vapor when heated at the designated program rate. This approach provides canine handlers and instrument vendors with safe access to stored hazardous explosives at trace levels for use in detection, calibration, and validation of instruments as well and the training of explosives detecting canines.
ALERT has received enthusiastic support from law enforcement and instrument vendors and are in negotiation for possible licensing with a commercial vendor. In the near term, law enforcement agencies and instrument vendors are able to request these training aids directly from ALERT.
Oxley said “Some of our biggest service clients are law enforcement agencies. When some of the improvised devices came into vogue, they were too sensitive for law enforcement agencies to handle.” Oxley explained that for the Popular Science crew, her team not only conducted a demonstration, but ran a test to determine if the dogs detect pseudo explosives as they do the real explosives.
“It worked and we were really excited, because this was a first-time run during which the dogs were testing both,” said the chemistry professor and co-coordinator of the URI Forensic Science Partnership. “We wanted to make sure they could associate one with the other; that was an extremely important task.
“With K-9s, we are looking at the odor signature, and we have to do that on an explosive-by-explosive basis,” she said.She added that Metropolitan Transit Authority police took advantage of training opportunities at URI long before other groups, but more and more agencies are seeking training, including the federal Transportation Security Administration, which has rotated dozens of agents through the URI campus this summer.
Photo caption: Sgt. Bill Finucane of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department in New York works with McCarney, one of the department’s dogs, while testing canine explosive training aids developed by URI’s Jimmie Oxley and her team.
ADSA12 Final Report Now Available October 19, 2015
We are pleased to announce that the ADSA12 Workshop Final Report is now available for download at the following link: