Strategic Studies

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has requirements for future scanners that include a larger number of threat categories, higher probability of detection per category, lower false alarm rates and lower operating costs. One tactic that DHS is pursuing to achieve these requirements is to create an environment where the capabilities and capacities of the traditional vendors of security systems could be augmented by the development of algorithms by third parties. Examples of third parties include academics, national laboratories and companies other than the incumbent vendors.

DHS is particularly interested in following the model used by the medical imaging industry, in which university researchers have developed numerous algorithms that have eventually been deployed in commercial medical imaging equipment.

In order to stimulate third party algorithm development, ALERT has held workshops addressing the research opportunities that may enable the development of next generation algorithms for Homeland Security applications.

These workshops have successfully fostered interaction between third parties and vendors, reducing barriers to their working together, now and in the future. They have also directly led to increased third party involvement in the development of advanced reconstruction algorithms. These successes are based on anecdotal evidence of the number of third parties engaging in discussions with vendors during the workshops and the knowledge of third parties consulting for the vendors.

An outcome from the workshops is the recommendation to execute projects, denoted initiatives, in which third parties can work on specific problems. Three initiates have either been completed or are in process to date. The initiatives are for segmentation of CT images, reconstructing CT images and developing automated threat recognition (ATR) algorithms.

The final reports for the workshops and the initiatives are available at: final-reports.

ADSA Workshops

ALERT has also developed the “Algorithm Development for Security Applications (ADSA).” workshop series. These workshops are convened by Professor Michael B. Silevitch (Northeastern University) and coordinated by Carl Crawford (Csuptwo). Attendees include people from vendors, academia, DHS, TSA and National Labs. The common objectives for all the workshops include the following topics:

  1. Exposing third parties to problems that need to be solved in the aviation security field
  2. Understanding what third parties need to participate in the aviation field including access to funding and problem statements
  3. Developing databases that can be used by third parties
  4. Dealing with classified information and export control restrictions
  5. Protecting intellectual property
  6. Protecting the business interests of incumbent vendors
  7. Publishing results
  8. Identifying promising emerging technologies
  9. Deploying advances made by third parties
  10. Training students to work in industry
  11. Creating a community in which people can share ideas and information
  12. Reducing the barriers for industry working with third parties

Each workshop features presentations from experts in the field, along with in-depth discussions both during and after the presentations. Final reports written for each workshop include an overview of the workshop, recommendations, and slides presented. Additional information on each workshop can be found in the links for each workshop.

Researchers and Industry Team for ADSA05

Fusing Orthogonal Technologies for Detecting Explosives for Aviation Applications, was held at Northeastern University in Boston on May 3-4, 2011.

Innovation Fast Track

EXCLUSIVE TO CENTER MEMBERS: Log in to explore your Innovation Fast Track, an online portal that gives you one-stop access to center researchers, funding opportunities, exclusive events and more.

Learn More
Student Central

Students, get connected with Industry Partners, find out about research and volunteer opportunities within ALERT, or get advice on how to best showcase your work at Student Central.

Learn More
The Partnership

ALERT is led by Northeastern University (NEU) and includes three key academic strategic partners: Boston University, Purdue University, and University of Rhode Island (URI).

Learn More