Editor's Note: Many of these technologies are used for domestic homeland security and counterterrorism missions.
Public Safety Technology News Recap (January 10, 2008)
Border Patrol Ready To Test 'Virtual Fence' Towers
Arizona Daily Star, (12/8/2007), Brady McCombs
Border Patrol agents in the Altar Valley southwest of Tucson have been given "conditional possession" of the prototype system of camera towers that spans 28 miles of border territory. The system, which was turned over to the Border Patrol for a 45-day test, was designed by Boeing. Each tower is equipped with video surveillance and radar sensors, and the information gathered by the towers is sent to command centers and to agents' vehicles.
With New Device, Police Shake, Rattle, and Roll
Washington Post, (10/29/2007), Allison Klein
In order for law enforcement to respond to emergencies quickly, agencies have traditionally relied on lights and sirens. With the added distractions of loud music and cell phones, police need a little something more to get drivers' attention. In 49 cruisers across Washington, D.C., police have added the Rumbler, developed by Federal Signal, to go along with traditional lights and sirens. When activated, the Rumbler emits a low frequency vibration that lasts about 10 seconds and can be felt by drivers up to 200 feet away, allowing officers to get through traffic safer and faster.
PSU Considers High-Tech Van
Daily Collegian Online, (12/12/2007), Alex Weisler
A $1 million van, nicknamed the Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV), will hopefully become part of Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology's program as their "extreme events laboratory." The van would serve as a learning tool for students in the program, and would provide them the chance to go through various security scenarios involving potential campus-related terrorist targets, such as the football stadium. NERV comes equipped with voice over Internet Protocol (IP), radio over IP, video over IP, a hi-definition video conferencing system, and a wireless mesh incident network. NERV has been used after such disasters as Hurricane Katrina and the San Diego wildfires.
Gordon's Meth Cleanup Bill Passes
Legislation to assist localities with the clean up of former methamphetamine lab locations is closer to becoming law. The Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act (H.R. 365) will require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a set of guidelines that can be used in an effort to reclaim meth lab locations and make them safe for habitation. This effort is needed because of the toxic nature of the chemicals used to create meth and their ability to permeate into walls and carpeting, which presents a health risk for those who later live in the dwelling. This bill also authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct research into the development of meth detection equipment for use by officers and first responders to quickly detect active meth labs and determine contamination levels.
Sweden: Volvo Group Invests in Tiredness-Detection Technology
Automotive World, (12/19/2007), Glenn Brooks
Due to collision investigation research conducted by Volvo Group, Volvo Technology Transfer has invested in Seeing Machines. Seeing Machines, from Australia, has created a system capable of detecting and alerting drivers to fatigue warning signs. The company has experience with technology capable of tracking and analyzing head movement, eye movement, and facial expression. The system is equipped with a video camera that is trained on the driver and records driver activity at the wheel. The recorded information is passed to an on-board data processing unit that recognizes the signs of distraction and fatigue and signals the driver.
Technocops Learn How To Dig for Cell-Phone Clues
The Express Times, (12/14/2007), Tom Quigley
Warren County Community College in New Jersey conducted training on digital evidence collection from cell phones for investigators from State and local jurisdictions as well as private investigators. Students learned about concepts such as "nibble switches," codes, and the task of digging through a cell phone's memory to find things that criminals thought were deleted. The techniques taught are designed to ensure the admissibility of any evidence that is found.
Facial Recognition Security Launched in Metro Schools
In an effort to make Metro Nashville Public Schools more secure and safe, the district has implemented facial recognition cameras in one metro school, with two additional schools and district administrative offices set up to become active in the coming weeks. Cross Match developed the system, which stores facial images in a database and alerts a staff member if a facial scan matches an individual on the school's watch list. The district plans to use mobile units at after-school events. If this initial phase produces positive results, the district plans to add additional camera units to more schools in the coming years.
Intensified Efforts To Combat Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security with testimony that indicated identity theft as one of the commission's high priorities. FTC efforts in this area include consumer/business education, as well as being a key participant on the President's Identity Theft Task Force. Since 2001, the commission's law enforcement efforts include 14 cases against businesses that had not enacted measures necessary to protect consumer information. The commission, along with 16 agencies on the President's task force, has developed 31 initiatives, most of which have been or are in the process of being implemented. Also, the FTC informed the House Judiciary Committee that it received up to 20,000 calls weekly seeking assistance with guarding against or recovering from identity theft. In addition, the FTC is pursuing actions that involve the National Do Not Call Registry.
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