Center of Excellence for Awareness & Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT)
The Center of Excellence for Awareness & Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) seeks to conduct transformational research, technology, and educational development to characterize, detect, mitigate, and respond to explosives-related threats facing the country and the world. ALERT’s researchers bring strengths in designing advanced sensors; detecting weakly defined targets from a standoff distance; signal processing and sensor integration; characterizing explosives; understanding improvised explosive device (IED) detonator signatures; shock physics; and material science.
Michael B. Silevitch, Director of ALERT
Prof. Silevitch is the Director of ALERT and also serves as the Director of the Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. Previously he directed of the Center for Electromagnetics Research (an NSF Industry-University Center) and the Center for the Enhancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME). Michael received the BSEE, MSEE and PhD from Northeastern University in 1965, 1966, and, 1971, respectively. He joined the faculty of Northeastern in 1972, and was appointed to the Robert D. Black Endowed Chair in Engineering at Northeastern in 2003. He is an elected fellow of the IEEE.
ALERT’s Research Areas:
- Characterization and Elimination of Illicit Explosives
- Trace and Vapor Sensors
- Bulk Sensors and Sensor Systems
- Video Analytics and Signature Analysis
Current Research Projects
- Characterization of Explosives & Precursors R1-A1
- Characterization of Energetic Materials at Extreme Conditions R1-A2
- Metrics for Explosivity, Inerting & Compatibility R1-B1
- Small-scale Characterization of Homemade Explosives (HMEs) R1-B2
- Understanding Heterogeneity of Energetic Materials R1-C1
- Compatibilities & Simulants: Explosive Polymer Interactions R1-C2
- Theoretical Modeling Considerations R1-D
- Improved Swab Design for Contact Sensing R2-A.1
- Lifetimes and Decomposition Rates of Explosive Gas Ions in Air at Ambient Pressure R2-A.2
- Orthogonal Sensors for Trace Detection R2-B.1
- Portable, Integrated Microscale Sensors (PIMS) for Explosives Detection R2-B.2
- Thin Film Fluorescent Sensors for Explosives Detection R2-C.1
- Multiplexed Mid-Infrared Imaging of Trace Explosives R2-C.2
- Chaotic Cavity Gas Cell for Optical Trace Explosives Detection R2-C.3
- Millimeter Wave Whole Body Scanning Radar Hardware for Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) R3-A.1
- Computational Models and Algorithms for Millimeter Wave Whole Body Scanning for Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) R3-A.2
- Hardware Design for “Stand-off” and “On-the-Move” Detection of Security Threats R3-B.1
- Advanced Imaging and Detection of Security Threats using Compressive Sensing R3-B.2
- Standoff Detection of Explosives: Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy Chemical Sensing R3-C
- Magnetic Resonance Based Detection of Illicit Materials [INACTIVE] R3-D
- Dynamics-Based Video Analytics R4-A.1
- Rapid Forensic Search & Retrieval in Video Archives R4-A.2
- Re-Identification and Long-Term Anomaly Detection R4-A.3
- Toward Advanced Baggage Screening: Reconstruction and Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) R4-B1
- Multi-energy, Limited View Computed Tomography (CT) R4-B2
- Advanced Automated Threat Recognition in Security Imaging R4-B3
- Integrated Reconstruction/Recognition R4-B4
- Advanced Multispectral CT Algorithms R4-C1
- X-Ray Diffraction Imaging R4-C2
- Advanced Cargo Screening R4-C3
Finding Solutions for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
ALERT’s Video Analytics for Surveillance and Tracking Project is developing advanced methods at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) to address existing airport security concerns, including “in-the-exit” security breaches (when a person tries to enter a secure terminal area through the exit lane); and “tag-and-track” capabilities (monitoring the path of a suspicious person in real time). Conducted in partnership with Siemens Corporate Research, TSA and CLE, the project has already demonstrated success in solving the “in-the-exit” problem.
Trace Screening and Technology Workshops
ALERT’s Advanced Development for Security Applications (ADSA) Workshop series fosters dialogue on advanced algorithm development among traditional vendors of security systems, academic researchers, the national laboratories, DHS, and security companies. As a result, more than 15 research groups across the United States have engaged in algorithm development for implementation in computed tomography (CT) luggage screening systems, making several sets of validation data available to the ADSA research community.
ALERT’s Trace Explosives Sampling for Security Applications (TESSA) workshop series, similar in style to ADSA, works to determine the baseline for measuring quantitative sampling efficiency. This will enable the development of a protocol against which competing contact sampling approaches can be compared and measured, to help identify appropriate aspects of trace detection where greatest impact can be realized.
Preparing First Responders
ALERT provides hands-on explosives training/workshops for professionals who come into contact with explosives. ALERT offers intensive 2-3 day explosives courses for first responders, week-long training for TSA explosive specialists and a yearly Range Day for bomb squads. One TSA specialist noted: “I learned more during your class than I did in my entire 20-year military career.”
Establishing a Facility for Next Generation Technology Development
With equipment from American Science & Engineering, HXI, Neurologica, and SAIC, ALERT established a laboratory capable of testing the next generation of Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT) for passenger screening. Current AIT systems do not leverage multi-modal fusion technologies, which are key to advancing AIT. Some of the modalities to be tested include millimeter-wave, X-ray backscatter, infrared thermography and nuclear quadrupole resonance.
Creating Student Pathways to Homeland Security Careers
ALERT’s unique educational programs develop future homeland security researchers and professionals. Minority Serving Institutions and Community Colleges actively engage through research programs and hands-on education which foster DHS career opportunities. ALERT’s DHS Homeland Security-STEM Career Development Program awards graduate fellowships to full-time engineering students. Participants take courses, engage in career development activities, and conduct research in DHS-related topics at a national lab or industrial venue. In the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, students participate in an intensive graduate program designed to build a future corps of engineering leadership professionals trained in DHS technologies
Publications - Phase 2, Year 2
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
Colliza, K., Porter, M., Smith, J., & Oxley, J. “Gas Phase Reactions of Alcohols with Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD) Under Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization Conditions.” Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 29(1), 15 January 2015, pp. 74-80. DOI: 10.1002/rcm.7084
Janesheski, R.S., Groven, L.J., & Son, S.F. “Detonation Failure Characterization of Homemade Explosives.” Propellants, Explosives, and Pyrotechnics, 39(4), August 2014, pp. 609-616.
Kittell, D.E., Mares, J.O., & Son, S.F. “Using Time-Frequency Analysis to Determine Time-Resolved Detonation Velocity with Microwave Interferometry.” Review of Scientific Instruments, 2015, 86(4): 044705.
Oxley, J. “Explosive Detection: How We Got Here and Where Are We Going?” International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion, 13(4), 2014, pp. 373-381. DOI: 10.1615/IntJEnergeticMaterialsChemProp.2014011493
Oxley, J.C., Smith, J.L., & Canino, J.N. “Insensitive TATP Training Aid by Microencapsulation.” Journal of Energetic Materials, 33(3), 25 March 2015, pp. 215-228. DOI: 10.1080/07370652.2014.985857
Oxley, J., Smith, J., Donnelly, M., & Porter, M. “Fuel-Oxidizer Mixtures: Their Stabilities and Burn Characteristics.” Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 13(6), January 2015, pp. 517-558. DOI: 10.1007/s10973-015-4589-x
Zhang, X., Zeimer, K.S., Zhang, K., Ramirez, D., Li, L., Wang, S.R., Hope-Weeks L.J., & Weeks, B.L. “Large-Area Preparation of High-Quality and Uniform Three-Dimensional Graphene Networks Through Thermal Degradation of Graphene Oxide-Nitrocellulose Composites.” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7(2), 21 January 2015, pp.1057-1064. DOI: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/am508909h
Rajapaksea, R.M.M.Y., Eiceman, G.A., & Stone, J.A. “An Experimental and Theoretical Study of the Thermal Decomposition of the Ethylene Glycol Dinitrate Chloride Adduct Ion.” International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 371, 1 October 2014, pp. 28–35. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijms.2014.07.039
You, S., Latendresse, C.A., Fernandes, S.C., Sullivan, K.M., & Euler, W.B. “Detection of Dinitrotoluene Isomers Using Reactions With Bases: A Structural, Spectroscopic, Kinetic, and Computational Study.” Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 216, 20 April 2015, pp. 165 – 175. DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2015.04.033
Alvarez, Y., Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A., Las-Heras, F., & Rappaport, C.M. “SAR Imaging-Based Techniques for Low Permittivity Lossless Dielectric Bodies Characterization.” Antennas and Propagation Magazine,57(2), April 2015, pp. 267 - 276.
Alvarez, Y., Rodriguez-Vaqueiro, Y., Gonzalez- Valdes, B., Matzavinos, S., Rappaport, C.M., Las-Heras, F., & Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A. “Fourier-Based Imaging for Multistatic Radar Systems.” IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, 62(8), August 2014, pp. 1798–1810. DOI: 10.1109/TMTT.2014.2332307
Figueroa-Navedo, A.M., Galán-Freyle, N.Y., Pacheco-Londoño, L.C., & Hernández-Rivera, S.P., “Chemometrics Enhanced Laser Induced Thermal Emission Detection of PETN and RDX.” 2015. Journal of Chemometrics, 29(6), June 2015, pp. 329- 337. DOI: 10.1002/cem.2704
Galán-Freyle, N.J., Pacheco-Londoño, L.C., Figueroa-Navedo, A., & Hernández-Rivera, S.P. “Standoff Detection of Highly Energetic Materials by Laser Induced Thermal Excitation of Infrared Emission.” Applied Spectroscopy, 69(5), May 2015, pp. 535-544.
Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Alvarez, Y., Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A., Las-Heras, F., & Rappaport, C. “On the Combination of SAR and Model Based Techniques for High-Resolution Real-Time Two-Dimensional Reconstruction.” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 62(10), October 2014, pp. 5180–5189. DOI: 10.1109/TAP.2014.2346203.
Rodriguez-Vaqueiro, Y., & Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A. “On the Use of Passive Reflecting Surfaces and Compressive Sensing Techniques for Detecting Security Threats at Standoff Distances.” International Journal on Antennas and Propagation, 2014, Article ID 248351, 2 July 2014, 8 pages. DOI:10.1155/2014/248351
Dabbene, F., Sznaier, M., & Tempo, R. “Probabilistic Optimal Estimation with Uniformly Distributed Noise.” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 59(8), August 2014, pp. 2113–2127.
Ozay, N., Lagoa, C.M., & Sznaier, M. “Set Membership Identification of Switched Linear Systems with Known Number of Subsystems.” Automatica, 51, January 2015, pp. 180-191.
Ozay, N., Sznaier, M., & Lagoa, C.M. “Convex Certifi cates for Model (In)validation of Switched Affine Systems with Unknown Switches.” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control: Special Issue on Relaxation Methods in Identification and Estimation Problems, 59(11), November 2014, pp. 2921–2932.
Sznaier, M., Ayazoglu, M., & Inanc, T. “Fast Structured Nuclear Norm Minimization with Applications to Set Membership Systems Identification.” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 59(10), October 2014, pp. 2837–2842.
Tuysuzoglu, A., Karl, W. C., Stojanovic, I., Castanon, D. A., & Unlu, S. “Graph-Cut Based Discrete-Valued Image Reconstruction.” IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, 24(5), May 2015, pp. 1616-1627. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=7055898
Wu, Z., Li, Y., & Radke, R.J. “Viewpoint Invariant Human Re-Identification in Camera Networks Using Pose Priors and Subject-Discriminative Features.” IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 37(5), May 2015, pp. 1095-1108. DOI: 10.1109/TPAMI.2014.2360373
Wu, Z., & Radke, R.J. “Improving Counterflow Detection in Dense Crowds with Scene Features.” Pattern Recognition Letters: Special Issue on Pattern Recognition and Crowd Analysis, 44, 15 July 2014, pp. 152-160. DOI:10.1016/j.patrec.2013.11.016
Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings
Kittell, D.E., Mares J.O., & Son, S.F. “A Comparison of Wavelet, Quadrature, and Peak-to-Peak Methods for Determining Shock Velocity from Microwave Interferometer Data.” 15th International Detonation Symposium, 13-18 July 2014.
Kittell, D.E., Renslow, P.J., Groven, L.J., & Son, S.F. “Modeling Small Scale Detonation Experiments with Pressed TATB.” 15th International Detonation Symposium, 13-18 July 2014.
Zhang, X., & Weeks, B.L. “Improved Thermal Stability and Reduced Sublimation Rate of Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate Through Doping Graphene Oxide.” North American Thermal Analysis Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, NM, 14-17 September 2014.
Caron, Z., Mallin, D., Champlin, M., & Gregory, O. “A Pre-Concentrator for Explosive Vapor Detection.” 227th Electrochemical Society Meeting, Chicago, IL, May 2015.
Álvarez, Y., Rodriguez-Vaqueiro, Y., Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Mantzavinos, S., Rappaport, C., Las-Heras, F., & Martínez-Lorenzo, J. A. “Multistatic Fourier-based Technique for Radar Systems.” EuCAP 2015 — VIII European Conference on Antennas and Propagation, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2015, 2 pages.
Ghazi, G., Tirado, L., Rappaport, C., & Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A. “Coherent Image Formation and Calibration for Multi-Bistatic Radar Configurations.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014.
Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Álvarez-Lopez, Y., Gutierrez-Meana, J., Rappaport, C., Las-Heras, F., Garcia-Pino, A., & Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A. “On-the-Move Millimeter Wave Imaging System Using Multiple Transmitters and Receivers.” EuCAP 2015 — VIII European Conference on Antennas and Propagation, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2015, 2 pages.
Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Martinez-Lorenzo, J. A., & Rappaport, C. “On-the-Move Active Millimeter Wave Interrogation System Using a Hallway of Multiple Transmitters and Receivers.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014, pp. 1107-1108.
Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A., Rappaport, C.M., Alvarez Lopez, Y., & Las-Heras Andres, F. “A Hybrid SAR - Model Based Method for High Resolution Imaging.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014, pp. 653 – 654.
Rappaport, C., & González-Valdés, B. “Multistatic Nearfield Imaging Radar for Portal Security Systems Using a High Gain Toroidal Refl ector Antenna.” EuCAP 2015 — VIII European Conference on Antennas and Propagation, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2015, 2 pages.
Rappaport, C., González-Valdés, B., & Martínez-Lorenzo, J. A. “Advanced Portal-Based Multistatic Millimeter-Wave Radar Imaging for Person Security Screening.” IEEE International Carnahan Conference on Security Technology, Rome, Italy, 14 October 2014, 3 pages.
Rodriguez-Vaqueiro, Y., & Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A. “Standoff detection of security threats using Passive Reflecting Surfaces and Compressive Sensing techniques.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014.
Tirado, L., Ghazi, G., Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A., Rappaport, C., Alvarez, Y., & Las-Heras, F. “A GPU Implementation of the Inverse Fast Multipole Method for Multi-Bistatic Imaging Applications.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014.
Williams, K., Tirado, L., Chen, Z., Gonzalez-Valdes, B., Martinez-Lorenzo, J.A., & Rappaport, C.M. “Ray Tracing Simulation Tool for Portal-Based Millimeter-Wave Security Systems Using the NVIDIA® OptiX™ Ray Tracing Engine.” IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, Memphis, TN, 6-11 July 2014, pp. 167.
Cheng, Y., Lopez, J., Camps, O., & Sznaier, M. “A Convex Optimization Approach to Robust Fundamental Matrix Estimation.” 2015 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2015.
Cheng, Y., Wang, Y., & Sznaier, M. “A Convex Optimization Approach to Semi-Supervised Identification of Switched ARX Systems.” 2014 IEEE 53rd Annual Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), 2014, pp. 2573 – 2578.
Hanawal, M., & Saligrama, V. “Efficient Detection and Localization on Graph Structured Data.” 40th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), 2015.
Karanam, S., Li, Y., & Radke, R.J. “Sparse Re-Id: Block Sparsity for Person Re-Identification.” IEEE/ISPRS 2nd Joint Workshop on Multi-Sensor Fusion for Dynamic Scene Understanding (MSF 15) in conjunction with CVPR 15, Boston, MA, 12 June 2015.
Li, Y., Wu, Z., Karanam, S., & Radke, R.J. “Real-World Re-Identification in an Airport Camera Network.” Eighth ACM/IEEE International Conference on Distributed Smart Cameras (ICDSC), Venice, Italy, November 2014 (invited paper). http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2659021.2659039
Li, Y., Wu, Z., & Radke, R.J. “Multi-Shot Re-Identification with Random-Projection-Based Random Forests.” Winter Conference on Application of Computer Vision 2015, Waikola Beach, HI, January 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/WACV.2015.56
Lo Presti, L., La Cascia, M., Sclaroff, S., & Camps, O. “Gesture Modeling by Hanklet-Based Hidden Markov Model.” Proc. Asian Conference on Computer Vision (ACCV), November 2014.
Lucia, W., Sznaier, M., & Franze, G. “An Obstacle Avoidance and Motion Planning Command Governor Based Scheme: The Qball-X4 Quadrotor Case of Study.” 2014 IEEE 53rd Annual Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), 2014, pp. 6135 – 6140.
Qian, J., & Saligrama, V. “Efficient Minimax Detection on Graphs.” 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 8-13 December 2014.
Qian, J., & Saligrama, V. “Learning Efficient Anomaly Detectors from KNN Graphs.” 18th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS) 2015, Journal of Machine Learning Research, W&CP, 2015.
Sznaier, M., Camps, O., Ozay, N., & Lagoa, C. “Surviving the Upcoming Data Deluge: A Systems and Control Perspective.” 2014 IEEE 53rd Annual Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), 2014, pp. 1488 – 1498.
Wang, J., Bolukbasi, T., Trapeznikov, K., & Saligrama, V. “Model Selection by Linear Programming.” ECCV 2014 – European Conference on Computer Vision, 6-12 September 2014.
Wang, Y., Dicle, C., Camps, O., & Sznaier, M. “Self Scaled Regularized Robust Regression.” 2015 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2015.
Wang, Y., Lopez, J., & Sznaier, M. “Sparse Static Output Feedback Controller Design via Convex optimization.” 2014 IEEE 53rd Annual Conference Decision and Control (CDC), 2014, pp. 376 – 381.
Xiong, F., Gou, M., Camps, O., & Sznaier, M. “Person Re-Identification Using Kernel-Based Metric Learning Methods.” 2014 European Comp. Vision Conference, Zurich, Switzerland, September 2014, pp. 1–16.
Zhang, Z., Chen, Y., & Saligrama, V. “A Novel Visual Word Co-occurrence Model for Person Re-identification.” ECCV Workshop 2014, 6-7 September 2014.
Zhang, Z., & Saligrama, V. “Rapidly Accelerated Proximal Gradient Algorithms.” 40th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), 2015.
Student Opportunities at ALERT
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Every year, the center selects science or engineering undergraduate students to work at ALERT laboratories on research projects related to the emerging technology of explosives detection.These REU students will have the opportunity to work for 10 weeks at ALERT facilities in the areas of blast mitigation, Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) applications, Remote Raman Spectroscopy (RRS), mechanical response and performance of structures.
The ALERT Scholars Program offers freshmen engineering students the opportunity to become involved in research and K-12 outreach related to the ALERT Research Center, in addition to other research and K-12 programs on campus.
ALERT Scholars attend research presentations, engage in discussion with upper-class mentors, participate in research experiences under the guidance of a faculty member and learn about interesting outreach opportunities.
We believe that the ALERT Scholars Program helps engineering undergraduates to consider the many paths open to them as potential researchers, educators and engineering leaders. Participation in the ALERT Scholars Program, coupled with co-op and other experiential learning options, will position the students well to bring engineering solutions to the global marketplace.
High Tech Tools & Toys Lab
The High-Tech Tools and Toys Laboratory is a discovery-based educational laboratory. The High Tech Tools and Toys (HTT&T) laboratories engage freshmen in hands-on learning activities using state-of-the-art technology products. The laboratory creates an exciting problem-solving environment where generic engineering skills (e.g. data analysis, writing and project planning) are learned.
ALERT researchers work to develop robust Canine Training Aids
Because of their volatility, explosives are rarely used pure, they are often mixed with other materials such as polymers. Explosives are exposed to polymers for a variety of reason: (1) when they are “plasticized” for shaping; (2) when they are encased for safe handling, (e.g. dog training aids); and (3) when they are collected for forensic evidence or storage. ALERT has focused on finding the best materials for developing devices such as these.
As a result of our study of polymer/HME interactions, ALERT researchers have developed a method of polymer encapsulation that is used to create safe trace explosive sources for canine and instrument training. Polycarbonate microspheres containing only a low percentage of TATP have been demonstrated to last for years, yet produce pure TATP vapor when heated at the designated program rate. This approach provides canine handlers and instrument vendors with safe access to stored hazardous explosives at trace levels for use in detection, calibration, and validation of instruments as well and the training of explosives detecting canines.
ALERT leads Tutorial at IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security
ALERT led one of two tutorials given at the 2015 IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security on April 14th, 2015. The tutorials launched a three day event which included a plenary talk by Dr. Reginald Brothers, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, and four research tracks focused on key homeland security topics:
- Cyber Security,
- Attack and Disaster Preparation, Recovery, and Response,
- Land and Maritime Border Security
- Biometrics & Forensics.
The tutorial provided an introduction to explosive threat sensing technologies to over 25 representatives from educational institutions, national labs, DHS, and members of the private security industry.
Video Analytic Surveillance Transition Project (VAST)
Catching “Counter-Flow” Intruders in Airports with Video Anomaly Sensing Technology:
An advanced video analytics technology may soon enable airports across the nation to avoid costly shutdowns and delays by detecting gate skippers before they enter secure areas. A testbed for this technology installed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is detecting potential violations at a rate of 99.9 percent with an average of only five false alarms per week. The system enables airport security to use video analysis to detect “counterflow” (e.g., someone moving against the ?flow of foot traffic to skip screening lanes to reach boarding gates through the exit lanes). Working with airport officials, researchers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Center of Excellence for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) installed the testbed to provide real-time warning of counterflow in controlled access areas of the airport.
Handheld IED Detection Device with Firestorm Emergency Services
ALERT research out of Missouri University of Science and Technology, led by Prof. Daryl Beetner, is currently working to develop methods to indirectly detect and locate explosives by identifying the electromagnetic emissions from these electronic initiators. This approach has the advantage that a device can potentially be detected from tens or even hundreds of meters away in a very short period of time using relatively small, inexpensive, low-power sensors.
ALERT@NU hosts FEMA Region 1 Research to Resilience Workshop
ALERT at Northeastern is proud to have hosted the FEMA Region 1 “Research to Resilience” Workshop held in Boston, MA on September 27, 2012. More than 200 attendees and 11 DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs) participated in this event. The Research to Resilience Workshop was developed to link local and government agencies with DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs) in hopes of accelerating the transition of center developed research and education to improve preparedness.
ALERT, Square One partnership leads to NSF Small Business Award
ALERT researchers at Northeastern University partnered with Square One Systems Design to win a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center – Small Business award in the area of automated landmine detection. This promising partnership leverages the strengths of academic and industry experts for a project with broad humanitarian and research potential. The partnership involves pairing Square One’s Walking Tri-Sphere (WTS) robot with ALERT’s Ground-Penetrating Radar solution.
New Advanced Imaging Technology Facility established at Northeastern
The newest of ALERT's test facilities, the objective of the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) facility is the creation of an unbiased, academic-oriented “testbed” for development and evaluation of multi-modal sensors and algorithms for whole body imaging. The testbed is a collaborative effort led by ALERT Deputy Director Carey Rappaport.
Range Day at TTU
Since the inception of ALERT, TTU Profs. Brandon Weeks and Louisa Hope-Weeks have actively shared their explosives handling knowledge to train local first responders, particularly the Lubbock County Bomb Squad. TTU hosted a West Texas-wide range day. The approximately 30 participants included individuals from ATF, DHS, and bomb squads from as far away as Dallas (350 miles).
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in worldwide experiential learning, urban engagement, and interdisciplinary research that meets global and societal needs. Our broad mix of experience-based education programs – our signature cooperative education program.
Boston University is an international, comprehensive, private research university, committed to educating students to be reflective, resourceful individuals ready to live, adapt, and lead in an interconnected world. Boston University is committed to generating new knowledge to benefit society.
Purdue University is a vast laboratory for discovery. The university is known not only for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, but also for our imagination, ingenuity, and innovation. It’s a place where those who seek an education come to make their ideas real — especially when those transformative discoveries lead to scientific, technological, social, or humanitarian impact.
The University of Rhode Island is the State’s public learner-centered research university. The University is committed to enriching the lives of its students through its land, sea, and urban grant traditions. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are united in one common purpose: to learn and lead together.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev aspires to be among the best inter-disciplinary research universities in the world, a leader in scientific innovation, inter-disciplinary research and applied sciences – all of which impact daily life. It is committed to social and environmental responsibility and is working to develop the Negev, Israel and the world.
Established in 1925, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a large, well-established research and teaching institution, encompassing humanities, science, medicine, education and agriculture. HU researchers figure at the forefront of international science – from biotechnology and computer science to astrophysics and cancer research, from microbiology to solar energy and genetic engineering, as well as the humanities, including Jewish studies, social sciences and law.
We are a comprehensive research, land-grant university excelling in teaching, research and public service that fuels the economy and prepares students to be productive citizens.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s oldest technological university. For almost two centuries, Rensselaer has maintained its reputation for providing an undergraduate education of undisputed intellectual rigor based on educational innovation in the laboratory, classroom, and studio.
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech is located on the South Plains of West Texas and carries the distinction of being the largest comprehensive higher education institution in the western two-thirds of the state of Texas. Texas Tech University is dedicated to shaping the future of their students by providing them a comprehensive, quality education that prepares them to enter careers in a timely fashion.
Tufts University School of Engineering educates engineers committed to the innovative and ethical application of technology to solve societal problems. The school provides national leadership in enhancing the role and visibility of the engineering profession in the education of youth and the development and implementation of public policy. Our students, faculty, and alumni, develop and disseminate transformational knowledge and technologies that further society’s well-being and sustainability. Strategic areas of emphasis include programs in health, sustainability, and the human-technology interface.
The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic academic community of higher learning, animated from its origins by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The University is dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake. As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.
The Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico is a co-educational, bilingual, and non-sectarian school comprising the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.
Washington State University is a land-grant university that conducts transformational research and provides world-class education to more than 25,000 students statewide. Students are taught in an environment enriched by research activities and graduate study.
Industrial Advisory Board Members
American Science & Engineering
American Science and Engineering specializes in detection technologies that can uncover dangerous and elusive threats. AS&E’s x-ray inspection systems are used by governments and corporations around the world.
HXI, a subsidiary of Renaissance Electronics & Communications, is a leading supplier of millimeter-wave products, including LNAs, power amplifiers, mixers, detectors, oscillators, switches, transmitters, receivers and transceivers for radars, communications systems and sensors.
John Adams Innovation Institute
The John Adams Innovation Institute is the economic development division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The Innovation Institute serves as the convergence point in creating productive, collaborative partnerships between Massachusetts companies and academic research institutions to compete for business, talent and opportunities in the global marketplace.
Kiernan Group Holdings
Kiernan Group Holdings – (KGH) utilizes competitive intelligence, market analysis, tailored case studies, and vast executive experience in diverse fields to provide expert insight into emerging challenges. Kiernan Group Holdings provides comprehensive access to insular markets with an insightful understanding of existing wants and needs for federal, defense, intelligence and law enforcement communities.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security. They are responsible for ensuring that the nation’s nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and reliable. LLNL also applies its expertise to prevent the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction and strengthen homeland security.
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Lockheed Martin is a customer focused, global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products, and services for government and commercial customers.
Morpho integrates computed tomography (CT), Raman Spectroscopy, trace (ITMS™ technology), X-ray and X-ray Diffraction technologies into solutions that can make security activities more accurate, productive and efficient, as well as less intrusive. Morpho’s detection solutions are deployed to help protect people and property in some of the most important and sensitive world locations.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PNNL is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) ten national laboratories, managed by DOE’s Office of Science. PNNL also performs research for other DOE offices as well as government agencies, universities, and industry to deliver breakthrough science and technology to meet today’s key national needs.
Passport Systems was founded to develop and commercialize nuclear resonance fluorescence technology (“NRF”), as well as other technologies, to address the threats facing the world in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Started by a team of MIT technologists and entrepreneurs, the company has developed two families of products based on these state-of-the-art technologies: The Cargo SmartScan™ inspection system and the SmartShield™ networked radiation detection system. Our mission is to provide advanced technology and solutions for enhanced safety, security, and contraband detection.
Pendar Technologies is a privately held product development company focused on bringing to market breakthrough portable analysis and monitoring systems that include proprietary data science driven analysis modules. With experts in innovative spectroscopy and data science, the company has a pipeline of products in development. The company was formed by a merger of Pendar Medical and Eos Photonics in 2015.
Rapiscan Labs provides state of the art security screening products, solutions and services that meet the most demanding threat detection needs of customers worldwide, while improving operational efficiency. The technical staff at Rapiscan Laboratories, the R&D arm of Rapiscan Systems, is focused on leading edge physics, algorithm and software based research and development work in the detection of explosives, nuclear material and other contraband
Raytheon Company is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 91 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems; as well as a broad range of mission support services.
Over 50 Other Industrial Collaborators Include:
Physical Sciences, Inc.
United Technologies Research Corporation
Currently ALERT has three active datasets available to the research community that have developed out of transition tasks supported by DHS. The datasets which are currently available are related to ALERT’s CT Segmentation Initiative, Reconstruction Initiative, and Automated Threat Recognition (ATR) Initiative. If you would like to inquire about accessing this data, please complete our Dataset Request Form.
ALERT 101: Methods of Chemical Characterization and Mitigation
and Mitigation ALERT Thrust Leaders Jimmie Oxley and Steve Beaudoin provide commentary about the crucial role of chemical characterization in the mitigation of explosives-related threats, and how ALERT research is helping first responders and security personnel to detect and eliminate threats before they can be used for malicious reasons.
ALERT 101: Video Analytics ALERT researchers Richard Radke, Octavia Camps, and Venkatesh Saligrama explain what it is, how it’s used, and how they teach computers how to see and learn.
ALERT 101: Airport Screening Technologies We invite you to watch the first episode of ALERT 101 which focuses on the applications of Millimeter Wave Scanning and Backscatter X-ray in Airport Security Screening.