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Advancing Technology to Combat Explosives-Related Threats

ALERT is committed to enhancing effective characterization, detection, mitigation, and response to explosives-related threats by conducting transformative research and developing cutting-edge technologies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has established a Basic Ordering Agreement with ALERT to enhance the nation’s technical capabilities to prepare for, prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks involving explosives. This agreement supports much of ALERT’s ongoing work, while other projects are funded through industry partnerships, as detailed below.

Astrophysics Partnership 

In collaboration with ALERT, Astrophysics Inc. is developing a Multi-view CT Capable (MVCTC) X-ray scanner system to screen palletized cargo for threats, contraband materials, and illicit or hazardous substances sent domestically and overseas. Since 2013, the collaboration between Astrophysics and ALERT has resulted in a series of enhancements to the MVCTC scanner system to deliver the most advanced imaging in the industry. This disruptive technology is transforming cargo screening, resulting in higher throughput, lower false alarm rates, and heightened threat detection.

Astrophysics Collaboration

Correlation of Luggage and Specific Passengers (CLASP)

CLASP uses video analytics to make airport security smarter, safer, and faster. Current airport screenings require passengers to separate from their baggage and personal items at security checkpoints, leading to issues such as theft, misplaced items, and longer wait times. Advancements in video analytics may soon improve passenger experience in the airport security checkpoint by automatically tracking and associating passengers and their luggage. This will allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to screen passengers more efficiently and allocate resources more effectively.

CLASP Project

Enhanced Trace Explosives Detection (ETED)

ALERT researchers are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate on research in trace explosives sampling and detection. The collaborative effort aims to overcome the limitations of traditional Explosives Trace Detectors (ETDs) by developing Next Generation ETDs and tools to detect threats without the need for physical contact, enabling more efficient screening capabilities.

ETED Collaboration

Novel Technologies and Processes to Support Interdiction of Illicit Materials (IMI)

The IMI project aims to develop new technologies and processes to detect and interdict illicit materials entering the United States through various ports of entry. The project intends to enhance Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations through machine learning and reducing the time and cost of developing emerging technologies. Experts in chemistry, advanced sensors, signature analysis, and machine learning are engaged to deliver various methodologies, performance metrics, automated threat recognition, and operator-assist algorithms.

IMI Project