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August 30, 2004

Tip Sheet: Homeland Security Research & Training Projects at UMBC

As both the 2004 presidential election and the third anniversary of the 9-11 attacks grow nearer, homeland security remains a top priority for government and citizens. Whether they're working to train first responders, developing new technologies to detect dangers, or helping to map new threats and resources, UMBC researchers are partnering with state and federal agencies to improve homeland security in Maryland and across the U.S.

1. Mapping the Unthinkable

As first responders and homeland security officials prepare for the new threats and challengesof post-9-11 America, the need for a new type of map became clear. Recently, faculty, staffand student mapmakers in UMBC's Geography andEnvironmental Sciences department rose to the challenge as part of a project for theU.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security.

The department's Cartography Lab, one of only a handful of such map production facilities atU.S. universities today, helped design new map symbols to depict the new threats and resources thatfirst responders and state and federal homeland security officials must be aware of whenlooking at the map of post-9-11 America.

Contact: TomRabenhorst, Lecturer
JoeSchool, Director of Cartographic Services Laboratory;
UMBC Geography andEnvironmental Systems

410-455-3845, /410-455-2900,

2. Online Training for First-Responders -- more than 16,000 reached sofar

UMBC Emergency Health Services (EHS) participates in theU.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Disaster MedicalSystem (NDMS) by providing online training for first-responders. To date, UMBC EHShas used the Internet to train more than 16,000 physicians, nurses, paramedics, andlogistical staff in emergency preparedness and disaster-response and created over 130online courses through the NDMS program.

Contact: Lori Riegert, Program Director, UMBC Emergency Health Services, 410-455-1741,

3. Finding the Face of Terror

The emerging field of biometrics technology uses optical scanning among other technologiesto rapidly identify individuals based on biological traits such as fingerprints or facerecognition. Through an anti-bioterror grant from the National Institute of Standards &Technology (NIST), UMBC mathematics professor Andrew Rukhin islooking to improve biometric visual recognition of faces. Rukhin hopes to improve thealgorithms used in facial identification software that will be used in the near future byhomeland security officers at border crossings, transportation hubs, and other sensitivelocations.

Contact: Andrew Rukhin, Professor, UMBC department of mathematics410-455-2408,

4. Replacing Fido with Fiber Optics

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

"We hope our detector will beas sensitive as the bomb detecting dogs - plus you will not have to feed it and it never needs arest," says Arnold.

Contact: Bradley Arnold, Assistant Professor, UMBC Chemistry Department
410-455-2503 or

5. On-Site Training of Emergency Workers

Through a two-yearcontract with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, UMBC'sEmergency Health Services (EHS) department is training hospital staff membersacross the state of Maryland in disaster-preparedness skills and planning. The day-longtraining workshops cover both man-made disaster scenarios such as terrorist acts and naturaldisaster situations such as snow collapsing a building roof.

Contact: Rick Bissell, Graduate Program Director, UMBC EHS410-455-3776 or

Posted by dwinds1 at August 30, 2004 12:00 AM