Homeland Security

December 6, 2017
The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a study through March 31 on the Waterways Analysis and Management System.

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking input from mariners for a study of navigation requirements in the Pacific Seacoast System. 

The Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) study will review the short-range Aids to Navigation (ATON) system that covers American waterways from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and around Alaska, Hawaii and the Marianas Islands.

Interested mariners and maritime stakeholders can provide input by taking the survey, which will be available online until March 31, 2018.

December 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Among the technologies being developed under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program are wearable technologies to monitor the health and welfare of Customs and Border Protection K-9 partners.

A variety of systems cultivated under a Homeland Security rapid development program may be fielded late next year, bearing the first major fruits of the 2-year-old effort.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) kicked off its Silicon Valley Innovation Program in 2015 in an attempt to dramatically reduce the time to develop and deploy technology. The program focuses on all areas of the DHS mission, including information technology, finance, energy, health and first responders.

December 1, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Personnel with the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency provide emergency coordination, response and recovery services for people affected by Hurricane Irma. U.S. military and civilian organizations supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local authorities in disaster-relief efforts.

Even before weather reports start rolling in, U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security communicators prepare for the search, rescue and recovery missions they will face when a hurricane hits. But the winds of this hurricane season blew some nasty currents their way. Harvey, Irma and Maria not only were record-breaking hurricanes but also left little time for recuperation from one event to the next.

December 1, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will use facial recognition technology at airports to verify the identity of U.S. citizens returning from foreign travel.

Imagine, as an American citizen, returning to the United States from an international flight, going through customs and never pulling out a passport. For U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is working to expand its entry and exit biometric-based security, this is an emerging reality. Using advanced facial recognition technology, customs officers at entry points in U.S. airports will be able to identify travelers long before they reach the customs desk.

December 1, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor

When stranded flood victims could not get through to 911 during Hurricane Harvey, they posted on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to reach out for help. Hashtags such as #SOSHouston and #SOSHarvey were used to flag citizen rescuers.

In a first, the U.S. Coast Guard’s social media team saw trapped survivors turn to social media during the coastal Texas storm. As the number of posts spiked, the Coast Guard National Command Center (NCC) began to receive calls from concerned citizens who also noticed the pleas for help on these platforms.

November 1, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Coast Guard rescue efforts during recent hurricanes are aided by web technologies, including Google Street Maps and Facebook.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Matthews, USCG

Three major hurricanes pummeled the United States this year, occurring nearly concurrently and causing massive damage in multiple states and in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The conditions created by these overlapping disasters were extreme, with disparate needs and changing operational requirements often thwarting response capabilities. Facing unprecedented challenges during and after these storms, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security relied on traditional as well as innovative approaches to serve the affected communities.

October 26, 2017
John Zangardi, who has been picked as the next chief information officer for the Department of Homeland Security, closes out AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The White House announced on October 26 the intent to appoint John Zangardi, acting chief information officer (CIO) at the Department of Defense, to be the CIO for the Department of Homeland Security.

October 17, 2017
The Department of Homeland Security needs innovators who can use existing data to identify biothreats, such as viruses, bacterium, pathogens and biological toxins. (Photo courtesy of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has launched the Hidden Signals Challenge, a $300,000 prize competition to identify novel uses of existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The challenge calls upon innovators from a wide variety of fields to develop concepts that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats.

October 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A single cyber attack could cripple an entire city, such as New York, which helps fuel the national economy, experts warn.

With the Internet of Things promising—or perhaps threatening—to connect many more millions of devices, experts from industry, government and the military are urging action.

The critical infrastructure covers a lot of territory, including banking and finance, gas and oil, health care, agriculture, water distribution, transportation, communication, law enforcement and emergency services. Many outdated and poorly secured computers, experts say, operate a great deal of that infrastructure. Additionally, commercial or private entities own the vast majority of the infrastructure, meaning that government has little authority to protect it.

October 6, 2017

Explosives trace detection experts from industry, academia and government laboratories will gather in Washington, D.C., on October 24 and 25 to discuss advances in trace detection technologies.

The two-day event put on by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will include presentations from S&T Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), the Transportation Security Administration and sponsored organizations performing research and development. Commercial companies, government laboratories and universities will present current research.

September 12, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Panelists discuss immigration policies during the FCEA Homeland Security Conference.

The president’s executive orders on immigration can be summarized in one sentence: You will now enforce the laws enacted by Congress, said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We have no new laws, just law enforcement. We must protect the border to remain a sovereign country,” Homan explained during the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington D.C.  

September 12, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, USCG, deputy commandant, Mission Support, U.S. Coast Guard, speaks at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.

The Coast Guard is under-resourced and yet is always trying to do more, said Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, USCG, deputy commandant, Mission Support, U.S. Coast Guard, at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington D.C. For example, today the service is performing its normal mission; supporting response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma; and providing security for the U.N. Security Council.

September 6, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, speaks at the 2017 Intelligence and National Security Summit.

A cyber strike may not be the most effective deterrent against adversaries, Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, National Security Council, told the audience at the 2017 Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, D.C.

If a “bad actor” is engaging in increasingly unacceptable behavior, he said, “I think what we’ll have to do is punch him in a way that’s real-world and not cyber-world.” Deterrent actions will be “commensurate with the expense” and also will be done in such a way that it will not “create a long-term escalatory posture.”

August 17, 2017
The Homeland Security Department is testing a new contact-free fingerprinting technology at select airports.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to evaluate new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. Proof-of-concept testing is taking place in select TSA Precheck lanes at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Denver International Airport.

August 8, 2017
Northeastern University is developing a system that will help you plug leaks of your private information.

Northeastern University will develop a system that organizations and individuals can use to audit and control personally identifiable information leaks from connected devices. The research team will investigate how to use machine learning to reliably identify the information in network flows and will develop algorithms that incorporate user feedback to adapt to the constantly changing landscape of privacy leaks.

August 1, 2017
By Bill Sullivan
Bill Sullivan, professor of safety, security and emergency management at Eastern Kentucky University, suggests solutions for preventing active shooter and other attacks in schools.

The FBI examined 160 active shooter/mass murder incidents between 2000 and 2013 and found that 70 percent of these attacks occurred in schools or businesses. They also reported that these incidents are on the rise. As active shooter events have continued throughout the nation, various tactics have emerged, including the attack at Ohio State University where a student utilized a vehicle as a weapon and then assaulted victims with a knife. This same method of attack has occurred in other locations. Unfortunately, we can also predict that the use of explosives in such an attack is likely to happen in the future.

July 31, 2017
By Julianne Simpson

Someone’s always watching. In malls, stadiums, train stations, parking garages, airports—security cameras are everywhere. But with so much information flowing in, it can be challenging for the people in the control rooms monitoring activity to catch every little detail. And surprisingly, most mainstream video security technology lacks sound, color or both. That’s where Chongeun Lee, a MITRE engineer specializing in biometrics, comes in.

July 24, 2017
SwellPro's waterproof drones shoot video both above and below the water. In an effort to keep airspace safe, NASA is funding research into UAV system detection and tracking.

Researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State) are launching a project to find new ways to detect and track unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace. The project seeks to research and develop high-performance communications, networking and air traffic management (ATM) systems, including navigation and surveillance for both manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The work is supported by a three-year, $1.33 million grant from NASA’s University Leadership Initiative.

July 11, 2017
By Breann Pendleton
Sandia National Laboratories researcher Patrick Feng (l), holds a trans-stilbene scintillator and organic chemist Joey Carlson holds a scintillator made of organic glass.

Sandia National Laboratory researchers have discovered a cost-effective and simpler way to detect nuclear material. Their research makes use of organic glass scintillators that, when employed, could make it harder to smuggle nuclear materials though U.S. ports and borders. 

The team of researchers created a scintillator—a device used to detect nuclear threats—out of an organic glass material instead of relying on the standard material called trans-stilbene, crystalline in the form of a molecule, according to a Sandra Lab press release.

May 18, 2017
By Breann Pendleton
2015 Robot Rodeo: Bomb squads from across the country saddled up their robots and duked it out at the ninth annual Western National Robot Rodeo at Sandia National Laboratories. Photo by Randy Montoya

This isn’t their first rodeo.

Sandia National Laboratories hosts its 11th annual Western National Robot Rodeo next week, an event where police and military bomb squads can practice using robots to defuse dangerous situations. 

Ten teams from around New Mexico will compete in 10 events testing robots’ speed and security in simulated yet realistic scenarios, according to a laboratory news release. While the top three teams will receive trophies, participants mainly are vying for bragging rights, says Jake Deuel, Sandia’s robotics manager and rodeo coordinator.

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