Public Safety

  • Portable device helps officers ID uncooperative suspects

    A portable fingerprint scanner helps police in a Florida town to identify people who refuse to identify themselves; the portable device searches the database of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which has more than 5.5 million criminal records; it also crosschecks a FBI database of wanted persons, sex offender registry and known or suspected terrorists

  • South African wireless traffic lights stolen by SIM-card thieves

    The city of Johannesburg had a great idea to make traffic move more smoothly in the city: install wirelessly activated traffic lights; but this is South Africa, so it did not take more than a few weeks for thieves to steal the SIM cards from 400 out of the 600 traffic lights installed; now the city does not have the fancy lights — and it pays thousands of rand on phone calls the thieves subsequently make using the snaffled SIMs

  • Mexico violence hits new levels in scale, brutality in 2010

    Mexico’s drug violence in 2010 was striking not only for its scale but also for its brutality; more than 13,000 people were killed across the country in drug violence, up from an estimated 9,600 a year earlier; the number of people killed since the government launched its war on the drug cartels in December 2006 has reached 31,000; analysts say that the violence is the result of the collapse of the old political structure — the 80-year one-party system ran by the PRI, which came to an end in 2000, when Vicente Fox came to power; the old system, with its unwritten rules and tacit understandings, is yet to be replaced by a new, consensual system; what has exacerbated the anarchical situation are two new elements: the rise of drug trafficking through Mexico, and the free flow of arms into the country, mostly from the United States

  • Smart system to teach itself to jam new wireless threats

    As wireless communication devices become more adaptive and responsive to their environment by using technology such as Dynamic Spectrum Allocation, the effectiveness of fixed countermeasures may become severely degraded; DARPA wants smart system that can learn to jam new wireless threats automatically

  • U.S. to deploy see-all Gorgon Stare UAV

    New U.S. UAV will be equipped with nine cameras which can transmit live video images of physical movements across an entire town; the new airborne surveillance system can send dozens of live images to a maximum of ten soldiers on the ground who would use hand-held devices similar in size to an iPad or Kindle

  • Biometric technologies save lives in the field

    This is not your father’s military: Within minutes of knocking down the door of a suspected bomb maker in the Middle East, U.S. troops can fingerprint everyone they find inside, send scans across a satellite link, and find out if the subjects are suspected terrorists

  • ATF to require gun dealers to report multiple rifle sales

    Mexico, reeling under the weight of the escalating armed conflict between the government and the drug cartels, is on the verge of becoming a failed, ungovernable state on the U.S. door-step; U.S. and Mexican experts say that 90 percent of the tens of thousands of the semi-automatic rifles in the arsenals of the cartels are smuggled from the United State; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has announced a new measure, requiring U.S. gun dealers to report multiple sales of rifles to authorities; Texas law enforcement authorities say that since the reporting requirements will only include the southwest border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — guns will continue to flow into Mexico from other parts of the United States — and from other countries

  • U.S. not ready for bioterrorism

    New report finds that if a major disease incident or bioterrorism attack were to occur today, the United States would not be ready for it; significant local, state, and federal budget cuts have had a negative impact on public health departments’ ability to maintain staff capabilities, and their ability to respond to crises

  • Closing of U.K. forensics research centers triggers protest

    The U.K. government announced that the Forensic Science Service — a leading research center based in Birmingham, United Kingdom — will be closed by 2012 because of budgetary reasons; law enforcement leaders and scientists calls on the government to reconsider the decision, saying that “The reputation of forensic science in the U.K. will undoubtedly diminish —- The lack of research means that we will be lagging behind the rest of the world, and justice will suffer”

  • ShotSpotter to detect gun firing in Huntington Station

    To combat rising gun violence in Huntington Station, Long Island, Suffolk County has decided to deploy the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system; ShotSpotter, an acoustic surveillance system, uses microphones that pick up the sounds of gunfire. Patrol cars with laptop computers can then detect the origin of the shots within ten feet

  • New camera technology may give soldiers eyes in the back of their heads

    DARPA is looking for ideas on how to develop a small and light device which will give the user zoom vision, various forms of night sight, and act as a heads-up display besides; perhaps best of all, the proposed kit would also offer “full sphere awareness” — that is, eyes in the back of your head

  • Mobile phone forensic tools to reduce hi-tech crimes

    Government funded technology center in India is developing a set of mobile forensic tools that will assist the law enforcement agencies in cracking unlawful activities committed using mobile phones; the center is a government agency, and will be able to provide the tools at reasonable cost

  • Holder: threat of homegrown terrorism "keeps me up at night"

    U.S. attorney general Eric Holder says the danger of homegrown terror “keeps me up at night”: “The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born”; the attorney general said that of 126 people who have been charged with allegations related to terrorism in the past 24 months, 50 had been American citizens; Holder dismissed criticism of recent FBI sting operations, which some have argued employed the use of illegal “entrapment,” offering that “options are always given all along the way for them to say, ‘You know what, I have changed my mind. I don’t want to do it’”

  • CIA forms taskforce to assess fallout from 250,000 leaked U.S. cables

    The CIA has formed a task force to assess the impact of 250,000 leaked U.S. diplomatic cables; the group will scour the released documents to survey damage caused by the disclosures; the name of the task force is WikiLeaks Task Force, or WTF for short; WTF is more commonly associated with the Facebook and Twitter profiles of teenagers, where the acronyms stand for three words used to express extreme disbelief or annoyance