Public Safety

  • Japan quake reconstruction could take ten years

    Yesterday an advisory panel to the Japanese government announced that it could take a decade to rebuild Japan after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami wiped out much of north-eastern Japan; the council said that the first three years alone would be devoted to building roads and erecting temporary housing for the thousands of families that have been displaced; rebuilding towns could take another four years and a full recovery might take even longer; the damage from the recent quake was far greater than the large quake that struck Japan in 1995; Prime Minister Kan’s cabinet has approved almost $50 billion in spending for post-earthquake rebuilding

  • Indian explosives detection technology comes to U.S.

    A south Carolina-based company signs a memorandum of understanding with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to enhance the DRDO-developed Explosives Detection Kit (EDK) so it meets standards that will allowed it to be used by the U.S. military and homeland security

  • U.S. Army picks Android

    Need artillery support? Android has an app for that; or will have, soon enough; while Apple scrambles, Google’s Android is picked as the operating system for the U.S. Army’s and Marine Corps’ smartphones; third-party developers will receive kits in July, with testing scheduled for October

  • AT&T shows mobile cell towers for disaster communication

    A new family of solutions from AT&T will make business, government, and public safety agencies better prepared for natural or man-made disasters; one of the new offerings, the “Fly-away” solution, packs a small cell site into a suitcase, offering first responders an easy-to-use, transportable system that can bring voice and data coverage to an area where disaster has knocked out communication channels

  • Insider threats in Afghanistan increase need for explosive detectors

    In Afghanistan suicide bombers are increasingly disguising themselves as friendly forces to successfully infiltrate secure allied bases and wreak havoc; April has been a deadly month for allied troops in Afghanistan with at least four attacks taking place where suicide bombers disguised themselves as police officers or members of the army; to protect against this threat, Thermal Matrix specializes in person-borne improvised explosive device (PBIED) detection devices; the firm has been working with the U.S military for the past several years to develop the Thermal Matrix ACT system which is capable of detecting suicide bombers from long distances; the system uses infrared imagery to analyze the heat signature of approaching individuals to determine if they are carrying any explosives

  • U.S. deploys UAVs to Libya

    In response to NATO’s air dominance over Libya, the Libyan military and the foreign militias Gaddafi has recruited from other African countries have changed their tactics; they now ride around in pick-up trucks dressed in civilian cloths, thus making it difficult to identify them from a high-flying aircraft; also, in addition to shelling cities and other locations where the anti-Gaddafi forces congregate, the pro-Gaddafi forces have engaged in urban warfare; they place snipers on balconies and roof-tops to terrorize the pro-rebel population at the same time that small units, operating in the streets, ambush and engage the disorganized rebel forces; the UAVs are meant to provide NATO commanders with better information on what is going on streets and between buildings; Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the use of drones will give the edge to the international forces in crowded urban areas, where they are struggling “to pick friend from foe”

  • Experts call for rules of the road for drone use in the Americas

    More and more Latin and Central American countries are using UAVs for domestic policing missions; these drones are employed as a high-tech answer by government to problems such as drug trafficking, gang violence, deforestation, and other illegal activities; experts say that Latin American countries should collaborate in developing a code of conduct that will prevent the arming of drones and assuage civilian concerns

  • 2002 Color-code terror alert system, RIP

    On 26 April a new terrorist alert system — the National Terrorism Alert System (NTAS) — will go into effect, replacing the color-code alert system which has been in effect since 2002; the new system will include “imminent threat” and “elevated threat” alerts; the “imminent threat” alert will warn of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States; in some cases, alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector

  • U.S. Air Force wants mind reading aerial drones

    The U.S. Air Force is currently working with several firms to develop aerial drones that have the ability to think and anticipate a controller’s actions before it occurs; the Air Force began exploring this capability in order to avoid collisions during takeoff and landings at busy airport terminals where both manned and unmanned planes launch; to address this problem, the Air Force awarded contracts to several firms to develop predictive software that can anticipate a pilot’s reaction if a drone is flying too closely

  • Army spends $50M for translation app that is already available

    This year the Pentagon has set aside nearly $50 million for the development of a sophisticated smartphone translation app that would allow troops in Afghanistan to translate Pastho and Dari; but some troops have already begun using the SpeechTrans app to translate Arabic which can be downloaded on any iPhone or iPad for less than $20, and the New Jersey based company is hard at work on an Afghan language edition of its app; one defense analyst questions the need to spend millions on research when “good enough” technology is already available, especially in light of congressional efforts to cut the deficit

  • New rifle sighting system dramatically improves accuracy

    Crosshairs automatically adjust for conditions in real time; a fiber-optic laser-based sensor system automatically corrects for even tiny barrel disruptions; the system, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL), precisely measures the deflection of the barrel relative to the sight and then electronically makes the necessary corrections; the new sensor is 250 times better than that of traditional crosshairs, which can be manually adjusted by one-fourth minutes of angle; the ORNL sensor can sense angular displacement and shift the reticle (crosshairs) by 1/1,000th of a minute of angle

  • Brazilian police get biometric "Robocop" glasses

    Facial-recognition glasses have been deployed by Brazilian police ahead of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament; the system can scan and compare four hundred faces per second using 46,000 biometric points for comparison; the technology will be tested at public events leading up to the World Cup

  • Smugglers use portable ramp to jump border fence

    Drug smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border are relying on increasingly more innovative ways to bypass additional security measures deployed along the southern border; law enforcement officials recently discovered a mobile folding ramp that allowed vehicles to drive over the border fence; the portable ramp was found in the Barry M. Goldwater Range east of Yuma, Arizona as Border Patrol agents chased a vehicle that had just used the ramp to leap over the fence with 1,000 pounds of marijuana

  • An electronic trail for every crime

    Police across the country are increasingly turning to electronic devices like cell phones and computer files to identify, prosecute, or exonerate criminals; the ubiquity of this technology has often provided investigators with an electronic trail that gives prosecutors concrete analytical evidence for nearly every crime; officials in Dubuque County, Iowa have established a digital forensic lab to analyze data on computers, cell phones, and video recorders to discover any encrypted files or other valuable information; in February law enforcement officials in Dubuque used text messages and surveillance camera footage to convict Teodoro Borrego of first degree murder