Technological innovation | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Border securityUsing data analytics to target human smugglers

    Human smuggling is big business. The financial cost can be as high as a few thousand dollars to cross the border from Mexico to the United States, while immigrants from China might pay tens of thousands for their cross-Pacific journey. Some estimates put illegal crossings at 350,000 per year—and that’s just coming over the U.S.-Mexican border. DHS S&T’s Igloo data analytics software program is currently in use by select units of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

  • Rescue robotsRoboCup 2018: Testing methods used to evaluate rescue robots

    Since 1997, several continents have played host to an international soccer tournament. No, not the World Cup — the RoboCup. Robots of all shapes and sizes test their “metal” in the world’s favorite sport. Engineers and fans from across the globe have gathered to watch hunks of autonomous steel try to nudge a ball into a miniature net.

  • Disaster reliefDisaster relief: Can AI improve humanitarian assistance?

    The unique topic of artificial intelligence (AI) for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) was in the spotlight last week, as leading minds from academia, industry and the federal government met to discuss how modern technology can help victims of disasters around the globe.

  • GeoengineeringBlocking sunlight to cool Earth won't reduce crop damage from global warming

    Injecting particles into the atmosphere to cool the planet and counter the warming effects of climate change would do nothing to offset the crop damage from rising global temperatures, according to a new analysis. “Shading the planet keeps things cooler, which helps crops grow better. But plants also need sunlight to grow, so blocking sunlight can affect growth. For agriculture, the unintended impacts of solar geoengineering are equal in magnitude to the benefits,” said the study’s lead author.

  • Bomb disposalHigh- and low-tech solutions for bomb disposal

    To ensure bomb techs are on the cutting edge of technology as they address evolving threats, DHS S&T created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster and more safely. They look at a variety of sources—including the commercial marketplace, responder communities and international partners—for high- and low-tech solutions.

  • GridWanted: Smart ideas for grid modernization

    A consortium of national labs and nonprofit organizations has announced a call for concepts to engage the smart grid community in demonstrating visionary interoperability capabilities on how facilities with distributed energy resources, or DERs, integrate and interact with the utility grid.

  • WildfiresNew laser solution could slow spread of forest fires

    By Abigail Klein Leichman

    Aggressive wildfires are rampaging through many countries this summer, bringing death and destruction in their wake. In California alone, firefighters are scrambling to control 18 separate blazes. Texas, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, as well as Canada, Greece, India, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. are among other areas battling massive forest fires, a phenomenon experts expect will only increase due to climate change. Israeli company Fighting Treetop Fire is developing a system of removing combustible foliage with algorithm-controlled laser beams controlled via helicopter or truck.

  • Printable gunsBlocked from distributing plans for 3D-printed guns, "crypto-anarchist" is still in the DIY gun business

    By Matthew Choi

    Cody Wilson’s group Defense Distributed is known for attempting to upload the digital blueprints for 3D-printed guns. But he also helps customers make unregistered, unserialized conventional firearms, from Glocks to AR-15s.

  • Printable gunsFrom gun kits to 3D printable guns, a short history of rogue gun makers

    By Timothy D. Lytton

    Gun rights activist Cody Wilson got a green light from the Trump administration in June to publish digital blueprints on the internet that will enable anyone with a 3D printer to make a plastic gun. Wilson’s harnessing of computer technology and his self-proclaimed radical ideology have added a new, unpredictable dimension to America’s struggle to reduce gun violence. But my research into the marketing, distribution and sales practices of the U.S. firearms industry reveals that there is nothing new in attempts by gun makers to exploit loopholes in government regulations. Since the 1980s, anyone can purchase the most lethal of firearms free from all legal restrictions. This has been made possible by small companies, operating on the margins of the gun industry, that sell complete weapons in the form of parts kits. Gun parts – as opposed to whole guns – are not subject to any of the federal regulations that govern firearms sales. No federal license is necessary to sell gun parts. And no background check is needed to purchase them.

  • Printable gunsInternet publication of 3D printing files about guns: Facts and what’s at stake

    By Kit Walsh

    When it comes to guns, nearly everyone has strong views. When it comes to Internet publication of 3D printed guns, those strong views can push courts and regulators into making hasty, dangerous legal precedents that will hurt the public’s ability to discuss legal, important, and even urgent topics ranging from mass surveillance to treatment of tear gas attacks. Careless responses to 3D-printed guns, even those that will do little to limit their availability, will have long-lasting effects on a host of activities entirely unrelated to guns.

  • ForensicsBuilding statistical foundation for next-gen forensic DNA profiling

    DNA is often considered the most reliable form of forensic evidence, and this reputation is based on the way DNA experts use statistics. When they compare the DNA left at a crime scene with the DNA of a suspect, experts generate statistics that describe how closely those DNA samples match. A jury can then take those match statistics into account when deciding guilt or innocence. These match statistics are reliable because they’re based on rigorous scientific research. However, that research only applies to DNA fingerprints, also called DNA profiles, that have been generated using current technology. Now, scientists have laid the statistical foundation for calculating match statistics when using Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, which produces DNA profiles that can be more useful in solving some crimes.

  • SurveillanceSpotting spies in the sky

    The use of drones for surveillance is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Researchers have developed the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. The new technology addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • CybersecurityWorld-first program to stop hacking by quantum supercomputers

    IT experts have devised the world’s leading post-quantum secure privacy-preserving algorithm so powerful it can thwart attacks from supercomputers of the future. The Lattice-Based One Time Linkable Ring Signature (L2RS) enhanced security, and privacy-preserving features enable large transactions and transfer of data without risk of being hacked by quantum computers and privacy revoked by unauthorized users.

  • Law enforcementFBI wish list: An app that can recognize the meaning of your tattoos

    By Dave Maass

    We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also includes image recognition technology and mobile devices to attempt to use tattoos to map out people’s relationships and identify their beliefs.

  • Radiation preparednessBetter decisions during a radiological emergency

    Whether a catastrophe is natural or man-made, emergency managers need to respond quickly with the optimal solution. Making decisions on the fly can be difficult, which is why significant planning must go into a disaster response strategy. Many conversations need to happen, and they need to cover a range of possible scenarios. The Radiation Decontamination tool Rad Decon was developed to facilitate those very discussions during a radiological emergency.