• DHS S&T demonstrates integration of first responder technologies

    More ruggedized protective equipment. Reliable and interoperable communications. The capability to filter vast amounts of data. These are all things DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) program envisions  to ensure future first responder are better protected, connected, and fully aware.

  • Roundup of spring, summer 2016 First Responders Group technology

    The DHS S&T regularly posts a roundup of key updates from projects currently in the development stages in S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG). S&T the other day offered an outline of FRG’s accomplishments in April, May, and June.

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  • New method helps identify chemical warfare agents

    Chemical warfare agents are powerful noxious chemicals that have been used as weapons of mass destruction. Finding trace amounts of a chemical warfare agent in a sample can be challenging, especially if the agent and the liquid it is in are both water-repellant, which is often the case. A new method for extracting, enriching, and identifying chemical warfare agents from oils and other organic liquids could help government officials and homeland security protect civilians more effectively from their deadly effects. The method uses nanoparticles to capture the chemicals.

  • NIST releases 3D ballistics research database

    It is a staple of the TV-crime drama: a ballistics expert tries to match two bullets using a microscope with a split-screen display. One bullet was recovered from the victim’s body and the other was test-fired from a suspect’s gun. If the striations on the bullets line up — cue the sound of a cell door slamming shut—the bad guy is headed to jail. In the real world, identifying the firearm used in a crime is more complicated. However, the basic setup is correct. New forensic science database will provide a statistical foundation for more reliably linking bullets to the guns that fired them.

  • ISIS using drones with explosives, spy cameras: Pentagon

    The Pentagon says that ISIS fighters are have been posing a growing threat to U.S. and Iraqi forces by using small commercial drones to carry improvised explosives devices (IEDs) or surveillance cameras. These drones are especially threatening because they can evade detection. The growing threat led the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, the Pentagon’s office charged with keeping tab on and countering IEDs, to ask Congress for permission to reallocate $20 million to provide money for a counter-drone program.

  • Bahamas warns young men traveling to U.S. to “exercise extreme caution” around police

    The government of the Bahamas late last week has issued a travel guidance to young Bahamian men travelling to the United States on holiday, warning them to “exercise extreme caution” when interacting with the U.S. police officers. “Do not be confrontational and cooperate” with the police, the Foreign Ministry’s travel guidance says.

  • Five officers killed by a sniper in Dallas (updated)

    Five police officers were killed, and seven officers and two civilians injured, on Thursday by 25-year old Micha Xavier Johnson, who opened fire on the officers during a protest march in Dallas. During a 3-hour standoff with the police, Johnson said he was not associated with any group or organization, and that his only purpose was to kill White people – especially White police officers. It was the deadliest attack on law enforcement officers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • Impact of demographic development on fires in ecosystems as strong as that of climate change

    Every year, about 350 million hectares of land are devastated by fires worldwide. This corresponds to about the size of India. To estimate the resulting damage to human health and economy, precise prognosis of the future development of fires is of crucial importance. Previous studies often considered climate change to be the most important factor. Now, a group of scientists has found that population development has the same impact at least.

  • Learning to live with wildfires: how communities can become “fire-adapted”

    In recent years wildfire seasons in the western United States have become so intense that many of us who make our home in dry, fire-prone areas are grappling with how to live with fire. We know that fuel reduction in dry forests can mitigate the effects of wildfires. After decades of fire exclusion, dense and dry forests with heavy accumulations of fuel and understory vegetation often need to be treated with a combination of thinning and prescribed burning. Native peoples, less than 150 years ago, proactively burned the landscapes we currently inhabit – for personal safety, food production, and enhanced forage for deer and elk. In some places, people still maintain and use traditional fire knowledge. As we too learn to be more fire-adapted, we need to embrace fire not only as an ongoing problem but an essential part of the solution.

  • Electromagnetic fields could be used in tsunami early warning

    Could electromagnetic (EM) fields be used in tsunami early warning? New research shows that important focal parameters of tsunamigenic earthquakes — particularly fault dip direction — can be extracted from tsunami-borne EM fields.

  • Lessons learned from the U.S.-Canada cross-border experiment

    A tornado has just devastated a community on the border between the United States and Canada. Paramedics scramble to bring patients from over-crowded hospitals across the border. Communication blackouts and downed trees force ambulances to weave their way through blowing debris, fallen electrical lines, and car wrecks. The time for a routine trip from the injury site to the hospital has now tripled. While this did not really happen, it was the focus in April when the DHS S&T and several Canadian government agencies collaborated on a cross-border experiment with a focus on preparing emergency responders for this type of scenario.

  • Can we predict who will become mass shooters?

    The Orlando nightclub attack on 12 June was among the deadliest in American history, and it was the 133rd mass shooting to take place in the United States in 2016 alone. In the aftermath of the shooting, there has been a growing discussion about introducing new laws to make it harder for mad or bad people to get their hands on guns. But what else can we do to try to bring this under control? Working on ways to perhaps recognize people who might develop into mass killers – and the reasons they have for doing so – would obviously be an important step forward.

  • Applying public health models to gun violence

    Research treats shootings like an epidemic — by applying public health models. Data indicate an individual’s odds of being a gunshot victim increase with exposure to gun violence. The work focuses not on mass shootings or isolated incidents of violence – rather, the researchers have worked to gather data on populations that face persistent threats of gun-related attacks and homicides, often connected to gang and drug activity.

  • Brazil lends $895 million to Rio de Janeiro for Olympics security

    Brazil’s government has loaned 2.9 billion reais ($895 million) to the state of Rio de Janeiro to cover some of the security costs of the Olympic Games, which open on 5 August. The state of Rio de Janeiro last week declared a state of fiscal emergency. Government officials said the loan was meant to guarantee safety and security at the Olympic Games. As many as half a million foreign visitors are expected to arrive in Rio during the state’s worst financial crisis in decades.

  • State budgets $10 million for earthquake early warning

    Governor Jerry Brown has signed a 2016-17 state budget that provides $10 million to help launch a statewide earthquake early-warning system. Although California passed a mandate in 2013 to create a statewide earthquake warning system, this is the first money appropriated by the state to make it a reality. The federal government has already provided $13.2 million to improve and test a prototype West Coast early-warning system, but this is much less than the $38 million in buildout costs and $16 million per year in operating costs needed to establish a fully functioning system serving California, Oregon, and Washington.