Tools & Training for Homeland Security

Published: Oct 11, 2004

Tools & Training for Homeland Security

As the 2004 presidential election grows nearer, homeland security remains a top priority for the U.S. government and American citizens. It’s also a top priority for UMBC faculty, staff and student researchers who are partnering with state and federal agencies on a variety of research endeavors, new technologies and training aimed at improving homeland security and emergency response.

New Tools for Terror Fight:
Two UMBC faculty researchers are working to improve high-technology methods for detecting terrorists and their tools of destruction. Through an anti-bioterror grant from the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), UMBC Statistics professor Andrew Rukhin is working to improve facial identification software that could help identify terror suspects at border crossings, transportation hubs, and other sensitive locations.

Meanwhile, Bradley Arnold, professor of Chemistry at UMBC, is working with George Murray of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL), on an invention that may give a high-tech break to bomb-sniffing dogs in homeland security K-9 units. The duo is developing a hand-held, fiber-optic device that changes color based on the presence of explosives.

Mapping the Unthinkable:
Faculty, staff and student mapmakers in UMBC’s Geography and Environmental Sciences department recently made news in The Baltimore Sun for their work with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security to design new symbols for the post-9-11 map of the U.S.

Training First Responders:
UMBC’s Emergency Health Services (EHS) department is making a national impact by providing online training for first-responders through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). To date, UMBC EHS has used the Internet to train more than 16,000 physicians, nurses, paramedics, and logistical staff in emergency preparedness and disaster-response and created over 130 online courses through the NDMS program. UMBC EHS is also training hospital and health department staff at the local level, thanks to a two-year contract with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

For more details about these and other research projects at UMBC, look on the home page later this month for the debut of a new online home for UMBC research. If you know of other UMBC research projects with a positive impact on people’s daily lives, please email information to


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