• California firesThe bitter lesson of the Californian fires

    By David Bowman

    California is burning, again. Dozens of peoples have been killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in several fires, the most destructive in the state’s history. The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires, including fires in Greece in July this year that killed 99 people, Portugal and Chile in 2017, and Australia. Why do wildfires seem to be escalating? Despite president Donald Trump’s tweet that the California fires were caused by “gross mismanagement” of forests, the answer is more complex, nuanced, and alarming.

  • CybersecurityWorld’s biggest student-led cybersecurity games announce winners of CSAW 2018

    A team of four computer science students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) once again took home top honors at the 15th anniversary edition of  Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW), the world’s largest student-run cyber security event.

  • Climate risks mitigationNatural solutions can reduce global warming

    Restoring the United States’ lands and coastal wetlands could have a much bigger role in reducing global warming than previously thought, according to the most comprehensive national assessment to date of how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands and wetlands.

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Coastal perilMethods for protecting England’s coastal communities “not fit for purpose”

    In October 2018, a stark report suggested that current methods being used to protect England’s coastal communities are “not fit for purpose.” The Committee on Climate Change’s Managing the coast in a changing climate report showed that between 2005 and 2014, over 15,000 new buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding and/or erosion. Experts say that evidence suggests there should be far stricter controls on coastal developments.

  • 911He got mugged, then revamped 911 for the next generation

    By Brian Blum

    Israeli company Carbyne has re-engineered the infrastructure for 911 services from the ground up, to take advantage of all the innovations that have come along in the 20 to 30 years since most emergency systems were built. Those innovations include the ability to see the location of a caller on a map, to chat by text if a voice call is not possible, to use VoIP (Voice over IP) services like WhatsApp and Skype, and to stream video so the 911 operator can see what’s happening in real time.

  • Religious conflictAI systems: Understanding and controlling religious conflict

    Artificial intelligence can help us to better understand the causes of religious violence and to potentially control it, according to a new research. The study is one of the first to be published that uses psychologically realistic AI – as opposed to machine learning.

  • Food securityMore people are getting bigger, requiring more food

    Food demand is growing as people get bigger. Feeding a population of 9 billion in 2050 will require much more food than previously calculated. The number of people on Earth could level off at around nine billion in a few years, compared to just over 7.6 billion now. But an average person in the future will require more food than today. Changes in eating habits, attitudes towards food waste, increases in height and body mass, and demographic transitions are some of the reasons.

  • Food securitySevere Caribbean droughts would magnify food insecurity

    Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region, according to new research. Since 1950, the Caribbean region has seen a drying trend and scattered multiyear droughts. But the recent Pan-Caribbean drought in 2013-16 was unusually severe and placed 2 million people in danger of food insecurity.

  • ResilienceBolstering resilience to withstand floods

    Historically, flooding is the most destructive natural disaster in this country. Facing this ever-growing threat, many wonder, “What can be done to protect life and property, reduce insurance claims, as well as help communities become more resilient?” DHS S&T has initiated multiple projects across the nation through its Flood Apex Program to offer an answer to this question.

  • Mitigating climate risksTechnologies to remove CO2 from air and sequester it key to climate change mitigation

    To achieve goals for climate and economic growth, “negative emissions technologies” (NETs) that remove and sequester carbon dioxide from the air will need to play a significant role in mitigating climate change, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • CybersecurityUnhackable computer relying on firmware security rather than software patches

    By turning computer circuits into unsolvable puzzles, researchers aim to create an unhackable computer. The MORPHEUS project’s cybersecurity approach is dramatically different from today’s, which relies on software—specifically software patches to vulnerabilities that have already been identified. It’s been called the “patch and pray” model, and it’s not ideal. “Instead of relying on software Band-Aids to hardware-based security issues, we are aiming to remove those hardware vulnerabilities in ways that will disarm a large proportion of today’s software attacks,” says Linton Salmon, manager of DARPA’s System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware program.

  • Water securityA dry future? New interactive map highlights water scarcity around the globe

    The average person in Europe uses 3,000−5,000 liters of water per day, of which the lion’s share is spent on food production. The world’s limited water resources are becoming an even more pressing issue as populations grow and climate change causes droughts in both south and north. Studies have already provided a number of ways to reduce our consumption of water, but this valuable information is often left unused.

  • Search & rescueFleets of drones could aid searches for lost hikers

    By Rob Matheson

    Finding lost hikers in forests can be a difficult and lengthy process, as helicopters and drones can’t get a glimpse through the thick tree canopy. Recently, it’s been proposed that autonomous drones, which can bob and weave through trees, could aid these searches. But the GPS signals used to guide the aircraft can be unreliable or nonexistent in forest environments. New system allows drones to cooperatively explore terrain under thick forest canopies where GPS signals are unreliable.

  • School safetyNew virtual tool gives responders, educators an “EDGE” on school safety

    First responders and educators now have a new, free tool at their disposal to help ensure the safety of our nation’s schools, as well as the students and faculty within them. Developed by DHS S&T and partners, the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE), a virtual training platform, allows teachers, school staff, law enforcement officers, and others tasked with school security to create and practice response plans for a wide range of critical incidents.