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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 challenges
of post-9-11 America, the need for a new type of map became clear. Recently, faculty, staff
and student mapmakers in UMBC's Geography and
Environmental Sciences department
rose to the challenge as part of a project for the
U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security.

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

Contact: Tom
, Director of Cartographic Services Laboratory;
UMBC Geography and
Environmental Systems

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

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

UMBC Emergency Health Services (EHS) participates in the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Disaster Medical
System (NDMS)
by providing online training for first-responders. 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.

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 technologies
to rapidly identify individuals based on biological traits such as fingerprints or face
recognition. Through an anti-bioterror grant from the National Institute of Standards &
Technology (NIST)
, UMBC mathematics professor Andrew Rukhin is
looking to improve biometric visual recognition of faces. Rukhin hopes to improve the
algorithms used in facial identification software that will be used in the near future by
homeland security officers at border crossings, transportation hubs, and other sensitive

Contact: Andrew Rukhin, Professor, UMBC department of mathematics

4. Replacing Fido with Fiber Optics

Bradley Arnold, professor
of Chemistry at UMBC, is working with Dr. 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.

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

Contact: Bradley Arnold, Assistant Professor, UMBC Chemistry Department

410-455-2503 or

5. On-Site Training of Emergency Workers

Through a two-year
contract with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, UMBC's
Emergency Health Services (EHS) department
is training hospital staff members
across the state of Maryland in disaster-preparedness skills and planning. The day-long
training workshops cover both man-made disaster scenarios such as terrorist acts and natural
disaster situations such as snow collapsing a building roof.

Contact: Rick Bissell, Graduate Program Director, UMBC EHS
410-455-3776 or

Posted by crose at August 30, 2004 3:33 PM