• Safe skiesSecuring U.S. skies

    Extended stretches of U.S. land borders invite illegal entry on the ground, and U.S. coastlines are often used for unauthorized seaborne entry. New, creative attempts at illegal activity in these domains are a daily occurrence. Aerial threats pose a different challenge as they have no natural barriers restricting them — land or coastal. Commercialization of drone technology, for all the beneficial opportunities it provides, also enables a new medium for criminal activity and other homeland security threats.

  • BioterrorismRestoring subways in the event of a bioterrorist attack

    Only a week after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, envelopes containing anthrax spores were sent to several media companies and two senators. As a result, twenty-two people were infected and five died. Since these incidents, the U.S. has increased its efforts on measures countering bioterrorism. That incident stemmed from spores sent to individuals and offices where the reach was somewhat contained. Imagine if the spores had been taken onto a mass transit platform — like the subway. A subway incident can bring a whole city to a halt, and the effects can last much longer in the form of lingering fear and mistrust.

  • Nuclear safetySandia transport triathlon puts spent nuclear fuel to the test

    Nuclear power supplies almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is the leading carbon-neutral power source. However, it produces between 2,200 and 2,600 tons of spent fuel in the United States each year. Fuel rods become brittle and highly radioactive while powering the nuclear reactor, making safe transportation important. Sandia National Laboratories researchers completed an eight-month, 14,500-mile triathlon-like test to gather data on the bumps and jolts spent nuclear fuel experiences during transportation.

  • Rail safetyStartup offering a solution to deter dangerous railway hacking

    Rail transport is undergoing a huge transformation thanks to automated, wireless and connected technologies that whoosh passengers down the tracks faster and more efficiently than ever before possible. However, these same technologies have opened a door to new types of cyber-attacks that can threaten passenger safety, disrupt service and cause serious economic damage. A new startup has raised $4.7 million in seed money to develop its proactive solution to protect railways and metros.

  • Friend or foeUsing artificial intelligence to predict criminal aircraft

    The ability to forecast criminal activity has been explored to various lengths in science fiction, but does it hold true in reality? It could for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). ) DHS S&T is developing a Predictive Threat Model (PTM) to help CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) more quickly and efficiently identify and stop nefarious aircraft.

  • Aviation securityTSA sets new firearm discovery record

    TSA discovered a record breaking 104 firearms in carry-on bags around the United States from 5 through 11 February. The previous record of ninety-six firearms was set in July of 2017. Of the 104 firearms discovered, 87 were loaded and 38 had a round chambered. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA says that the agency may impose civil penalties of up to $13,066 per violation per person for prohibited items violations and violations of other TSA regulations. Repeat violations will result in higher penalties.

  • Aviation securityX-ray image analysis training system to help improve aviation security

    Portland International Airport (PDX), a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) designated research airport, often tests new technology or procedures. One new technology recently implemented at PDX was ScreenADAPT, an X-ray image analysis training system that tracks the eye movement of trainees as they inspect simulated bags to enhance visual search skills.

  • TerrorismInformation from Israel helped thwart ISIS plot to blow up civilian airliner in Australia

    Information from Israeli military intelligence helped prevent the downing of an Australian passenger jet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. An Australian government minister confirmed that Israeli information helped in finding the attack suspects. Two Lebanese brothers living in Australia tried to smuggle a powerful bomb, concealed inside a meat grinder, onto an Etihad jet scheduled to fly from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

  • Air travel securityStudents to help DHS S&T tackle air travel security issues

    Students from James Madison University (JMU) will be tackling air travel security issues for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) as part of their spring semester of the Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) class. The H4D team will look for innovative approaches that will enable the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be able to associate passengers with their personal belongings.

  • Aviation safetyNew aviation safety management system requires integration of safety systems, practices

    A comprehensive aviation safety system as envisioned by NASA would require integration of a wide range of systems and practices, including building an in-time aviation safety management system (IASMS) that could detect and mitigate high-priority safety issues as they emerge and before they become hazards, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. An IASMS could continuously monitor the national airspace system, assess the data that it has collected, and then either recommend or initiate safety assurance actions as necessary.

  • Distant scanningDistant-scanning crowds for potential threats

    Everyone wants to be safe and secure, but can you imagine if you had to go through a security screening at the metro station like there is at the airport? What if there were a way to safely scan crowds for potential threat items in places like metro and train stations without security officials coming into direct contact with the public and while maintaining individual privacy?

  • CybersecurityThreat identification tool addresses cybersecurity in self-driving cars

    Instead of taking you home from work, your self-driving car delivers you to a desolate road, where it pulls off on the shoulder and stops. You call your vehicle to pick you up from a store and instead you get a text message: Send $100 worth of Bitcoin to this account and it’ll be right over. You buckle your seatbelt and set your destination to a doctor’s appointment, but your car won’t leave your driveway because it senses it’s been hacked. These three hypothetical scenarios illustrate the breadth of the cybersecurity challenges that must be overcome before autonomous and connected vehicles can be widely adopted. While every new generation of auto tech brings new security risks, the vulnerabilities that come along with advanced mobility are both unprecedented and under-studied, the paper states.

  • Airport securityU.K. gov. launches £3M competition for innovative airport bomb-detection tech

    Two U.K. government ministries — the Home Office and Department for Transport—have launched a Dragons’ Den-style investment prize, hoping to find innovative ways to detect bombs in laptops, phones, and cameras carried by passengers on board. The government has announced a £3 million competition in an effort to attract scientists and inventors to help the security services and the airline industry keep up with the nefarious ingenuity of terrorists.

  • Transportation securityAI used to limit collision-prone roadways

    Could a traffic agency identify a potentially dangerous road intersection without first witnessing a collision? Researchers are attempting to answer that question as they near completion on a two-year proof-of-concept study to develop an image-based system for monitoring and assessing the safety of intersections.

  • Biometric exit program DHS’s airport biometric exit program faces budgetary, legal, technical, and privacy questions

    DHS has installed experimental face-recognition system in nine U.S. airports. If DHS’s current plans are executed, every traveler flying overseas, American and foreign national alike, will soon be subject to a face recognition scan as part of this “biometric exit” program. A new report notes that neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program. Congress never provided a rationale for it. Congress never provided a rationale for it while DHS has repeatedly questioned “the additional value biometric air exit would provide.” The biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground, and to make matters worse, the face scanning technology used by DHS may make frequent mistakes. “The privacy concerns implicated by biometric exit are at least as troubling as the system’s legal and technical problems,” the report notes.