These Four Trends Are Putting Digital Identities in the Spotlight

Digital identity solutions are not only the basis for secure and convenient travel, they are also the key to important services and greater control over personal data. Four key trends are currently crystallizing in identity technologies. 

Digital identification and identity solutions are an important part of global technological progress. In addition to simplifying and streamlining processes such as dealing with government agencies or traveling, proof of identity is directly linked to fundamental human rights. For these reasons, the development of technologies and solutions plays a crucial role. And there has been a lot of progress. Veridos, a global leader in identity solutions, outlines here the four most important trends and developments in the field of identity technologies:

Travel is becoming more digital and more secure. New technologies are paving the way for a new level of security in electronic passports. Self-check-in terminals and biometric data on microchips, for example, are helping to speed up the boarding process at airports. The next step in this development: the physical passport will no longer be the only way for travelers to verify their identity. With Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), the travel document of the future can also be displayed completely digitally and much more conventiently – on a mobile phone or smartwatch, for example.

The passport is becoming more sustainable. The travel and tourism industry is responsible for an estimated eight to eleven percent of global emissions. To meet the industry’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, research is increasingly focusing on recycled materials for documents that can ensure more sustainable supply chains. The days of passports with virgin plastic-based components may soon be numbered in favor of new, eco-friendly ID documents. The digitization of ID documents can help reduce the need for physical ID cards.

Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) is becoming relevant. Self-sovereign identity puts individuals back in control of their data. This revolutionary concept allows individuals to choose what information to share, when, and with whom. Presenting an ID card to a car rental company, for example, reveals a great deal of sensitive information about an individual, whereas an SSI solution allows for the selective release of required information. With this zero-knowledge proof approach, citizens will be able to protect themselves very effectively against data mining and misuse of their information in the future. But SSI also has great advantages on the digital level – for example, the technology can be used as an identification process in the Internet of Things. Drivers could use it to confirm their identity at electric charging stations, for instance, without having to do anything themselves.

Identity is becoming increasingly digital. People without legal proof of identity are denied access to essential services and human rights, such as voting, education and banking. That is why the United Nations has set a goal of enabling everyone to register their identity by 2030. Universal solutions from leading providers are increasingly focused on digital and phygital technologies – a mix of digital and physical technologies. Not only are they more secure and convenient than purely physical ID cards, they also open doors to electronic services, are easier to manage and offer higher levels of security.

“The world is becoming increasingly digital. We see a growing expectation among users to be able to store important documents on mobile devices,” said Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos. “There is certainly still a long way to go before government documents are fully digitized, but the groundwork has been laid and research is making great strides.”

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Improve 114 Airports Across the U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is awarding $970 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Investing in America agenda to 114 airports across the country, spanning 44 states and three territories. This announcement, which Secretary Buttigieg will make as part of the Administration’s Investing in America tour, delivers on President Biden’s commitment to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure while lowering costs for families, creating good jobs, and advancing opportunity for all Americans.
This funding will help meet the growing demand for air travel and launch projects that will improve passenger experience, accessibility and sustainability while creating good-paying jobs. Investments enhancing the passenger experience include new baggage systems, larger security checkpoints, increasing gate capacity and modernizing aging infrastructure throughout terminals and ground transportation. These investments further increase terminal sustainability and improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Nine grants will address the needs of aging air traffic control towers. 

“Under this administration, we are doing more to improve the travel experience than ever before, from expanding consumer protections to modernizing the physical infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These investments we’re announcing today, made possible by President Biden’s historic infrastructure package, will make it easier for passengers to get to and through airports, create jobs, and increase safety for all.”
“Today’s funding not only helps modernize airports to meet the needs of travelers today and for years to come but also creates good-paying job opportunities in communities both large and small,” said FAA Associate Administrator for Airports, Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E. 
These awards are on top of the nearly $2 billion for airport terminals announced over the past two years. The vast majority of these terminal projects are under construction.

Many grants contain an element that will build new or expanded terminal facilities. Among them are:

  • $35 million to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia: This award funds a portion of the construction of a 14-gate, 400,000 sq. ft. terminal building including connections to the Aerotrain and Metrorail.
  • $20 million to Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah: This award funds a portion of the Concourse B terminal expansion that will include 16 gates.  
  • $10 million to Hector International Airport in Fargo, North Dakota: This award funds a portion of the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing terminal. Rehabilitation includes upgrades to lighting, reconfiguration and expansion of hold rooms, and improve Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance. Expansion includes four new gates for a total of nine, increasing hold room space, expanded ticketing/baggage handling, expanded restrooms and post-security concessions. 

Many grants contain an element that will improve the passenger experience by improving security-screening areas, providing faster and more reliable baggage systems, and increasing accessibility for passengers with disabilities. Among them are:

  • $40 million to Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Illinois: This award funds improvements to Terminal 3 to include increasing the central passenger corridor width, a reconfigured TSA checkpoint, new hold room, a new ADA compliant and family restroom, and updates to the baggage system. 
  • $26.6 million to Denver International Airport in Colorado: This award funds a portion of the baggage handling system replacement, including the control system. In addition, the new system will improve energy efficiency and increase capacity. 
  • $8.6 million to Kahului Airport in Hawai‘i: This project funds the construction of a new two-story security screening checkpoint facility at the south end of the ticket lobby (South TSA Checkpoint). The facility will include six new TSA screening lanes. A pedestrian bridge will connect the new checkpoint facility to hold room A and will span over the existing service road.
  • $7.5 million to Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in Kentucky: This award funds a portion of the Terminal A security screening expansion project, which consists of adding four screening lanes to the security checkpoint.
  • $2 million to Spokane International Airport in Washington: This award funds up to two additional ticket counters and passenger boarding bridges, and portions of the HVAC, mechanical, electrical, plumbing upgrades, shared use & hearing-impaired technology, smart glass, solar energy connection, baggage handling systems, and other considerable ADA improvements.
  • $1.5 million to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska: This award funds the installation of 110 audio and visual monitors and stations throughout the terminal to better serve the passengers. 

Many grants will increase access to other modes of transportation or improve roadways. Those include: 

  • $31 million to Los Angeles International Airport in California: This award funds two areas of the Auxiliary Curbs at ITF West and ITF East which includes a combination of new, extending, widening, and utility improvements of surrounding roadways. This also includes underground Low Impact Development (LID) storm water containment systems. 
  • $8 million to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida: This award funds a portion of the reconfiguration and expansion of the terminal access and curbside roadways.
  • $7 million to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Louisiana: This award funds construction of the foundation for the North/South Connector Road’s north phase. The foundational piling operations will provide structural resiliency to withstand future climatic events, which have deteriorated the soil and created environmental concerns in past years. The new road will connect the airport’s North and South terminals and will link the terminals to the airport’s upcoming multimodal transit facility that has passenger rail service.

Nine grants are awarded to airports to refurbish their airport owned airport traffic control towers. Among those are: 

  • $10 million to Duluth International Airport in Minnesota: This award funds the relocation of an Airport Owned Airport Traffic Control Tower, a non-standard tower commissioned in 1963. The project includes design, project formulation, site preparation, line of sight obstruction removal, and other related actions.
  • $5.4 million to Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland: This award partially funds a new Airport Traffic Control Tower that has reached the end of its useful life.
  • $4.5 million to Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas: This award funds approximately 25% of the construction costs of a new sponsor owned Airport Traffic Control Tower. This project replaces the existing tower that has an identified line of sight impediment, is not ADA compliant, and has structural integrity issues. Funding for this phase focuses on the foundation and base of the tower construction.

Many grants contain an element that will increase terminal sustainability. Among them are: 

  • $31 million to San Francisco International Airport in California: This award will replace critical mechanical and electrical components (VFDs, fans, dampers, actuators, control valves, sensors, and other associated elements) of the HVAC system at the International Terminal. Replacing these components will improve fire-life safety compliance, reduce energy usage, reduce maintenance costs, and improve resilience.
  • $27 million to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina: This award funds the replacement of up to 16 Passenger Boarding Bridges and associated Ground Power Units and Pre-Conditioned Air units. 
  • $3.4 million to Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin: This award funds the Expansion and Modernization Project that includes a four-gate concourse expansion and will include a 60,000 sq. Ft. expansion increasing the number of gates to 10.  This award will partially fund the final phase of the concourse expansion project, including Passenger Boarding Bridges, a solar and sustainability program, and mechanical equipment.

Several grants contain an element that will go to improving airport access in smaller communities. Among them include:

  • $10 million to Punta Gorda Airport in Florida: This award funds a portion of the terminal rehabilitation and expansion project, which includes renovating the security checkpoint and adding public circulation, hold room, and restroom space. 
  • $6.5 million to Presque Isle International Airport in Maine: The airport will construct a new terminal to replace the existing undersized terminal. The new terminal will be ADA compliant, include appropriate life safety upgrades, and improve energy efficiency. This award will fund the early stages of the project, including construction of the superstructure and building enclosure. 
  • $700,000 to Standing Rock Airport in Fort Yates, North Dakota: This award funds construction of a new general aviation terminal building. There is no current terminal building, or other protective structures, for pilots to get out of the elements. The airport is used for recreational activity along with flights for medical emergencies and delivery of hospital and emergency staff to the area. 

Dexory Aims to Re-define North American Logistics and Warehousing Technology Market

er of cutting-edge AI and robotics solutions, has announced its expansion into the North American market. Dexory is set to disrupt the market through its autonomous robotics and AI-powered analysis solution, DexoryView. The company is already working with global partners with a significant U. S. presence such as DB Schenker, Menzies Aviation, Maersk and ID Logistics. To lead the expansion, Todd Boone has joined the team as its Head of North American business.

The driving force behind the expansion is the rapidly evolving landscape of logistics and warehousing. End customers continue to demand quicker turnaround times while warehouses address the urgent needs for improved space utilization and increased efficiencies while wrestling with ongoing labor scarcity. Dexory combines powerful analytics with autonomous robots capable of capturing rich image and sensor data from across a warehouse. This powerful combination provides comprehensive visibility across warehouses of any size, as well as connecting warehouses across the global supply chain through Dexory’s digital platform, DexoryView.

One customer that has recently deployed Dexory’s solutions in its warehouses is the international contract logistics group, ID Logistics. The collaboration aims to increase warehouse operation accuracy and enhance overall efficiency to improve the service provided to their customers.

Benoit Boiron, group Innovation manager at ID Logistics commented, “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in the evolution of inventory management and warehouse data acquisition. The precision and real-time monitoring capabilities have transformed our day-to-day operations, bringing accuracy to new heights.”

“Following successful customer deployments in Europe, we have seen an increased demand from the North American market,” said Andrei Danescu, CEO and co-founder of Dexory. “We are excited to be expanding our offering and see that there is tremendous opportunity in the region. Organizations across the globe are getting to grips with the challenging demands of modern supply chains, and DexoryView allows businesses to gain rapid insights into their operations and make informed decisions that drive better efficiencies across their businesses.”

Dexory says their technology helps businesses to understand, in real-time, what happens in their warehousing operations, which is imperative to closing the visibility gap that occurs when there is a misalignment between expectations and reality. The ever-increasing pace within warehouses is causing the visibility gap to grow, and so worldwide, companies are embracing Dexory’s solution to unlock real-time visibility and insights that minimize the visibility gap while maximizing warehouse performance and reducing costs.

As part of the expansion, Dexory has appointed Todd Boone to lead its North American business. Boone joins Dexory from Zebra Technologies, where he served as director of product management in robotics and automation. With Zebra Technologies he held several leadership roles and worked closely with Fetch, an established AMR provider in North America. Along with his experience in large organizations such as Motorola Solutions and Psion Teklogix, Boone has also acted as an independent advisor for technology companies, providing advice on go-to-market strategies.

“Having an industry veteran such as Todd Boone lead our expansion in the North American region is paramount to our success,” adds Danescu. “Boone has in-depth knowledge of the landscape and the challenges our customers are facing. In addition to this, he is a proven leader and has a track record of delivering value to customers as well as devising strategies that are disruptive and value-driven for our industry. We are pleased to have him on board to spearhead our growth in the region.”

“Many businesses across the globe are struggling with a visibility gap, where they do not have the necessary insight into their warehouse and supply chain operations,” comments Todd Boone, head of North America at Dexory. “The opportunity to lead Dexory’s expansion into the North American market comes at an exciting time for the industry. The technology is truly innovative and disruptive. The combination of robots and DexoryView has already delivered significant benefits to customers in Europe, and North American businesses can expect a transformative effect on the everyday efficiency, productivity and accuracy of their warehouses.”

BNSF Railway Reports Record Year for Safety in 2023

BNSF Railway completed a record year for workplace safety in 2023, with the lowest injury frequency rate in the company’s 175-year history.

BNSF, comprised of 37,000 employees, operated its 32,500-mile network without loss of life, and with the fewest number of employee injuries ever. Employee injury rates decreased more than 20 percent, and injury severity was down nearly 35 percent, year-over-year, leading the industry in safety.

“Our performance in 2023 is a giant step forward in bringing us closer to our ultimate safety vision of a workplace free of accidents and injuries,” said Katie Farmer, president and CEO. “This monumental achievement is a credit to the commitment and passion for safety demonstrated by everyone at BNSF, especially our Operations teams. Everyone—across all teams and crafts—remains aligned in our commitment to safety, and we thank all our employees on the front lines serving customers every day whose dedication to safety made this significant milestone possible.”

This safety record in 2023 builds upon a first of its kind in the industry Transportation Safety Agreement (TSA). The agreement, which BNSF finalized in 2022 with its transportation workforce, has strengthened collaboration and communication between management and employees.

“Our membership is committed to safety and having those closest to the work lead this effort is showing positive results,” said Rich O’Connell, SMART-TD general chairman. Rob Cunningham, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) general chairman added, “We take great pride in our dedicated members who prioritize safety in their daily work. The successful collaboration between labor and management, as evidenced by the TSA, stands as a testament to our effective model.”

Heading into 2024 and beyond, BNSF says their safety vision “continues to be a workplace free of accidents and injuries.”

“Our commitment and passion for safety is something that sets the people of BNSF apart,” said Matt Igoe, executive vice president and COO. “The way we finished the year strong is clear proof of that. A special thanks to everyone who contributed throughout the year to take our safety performance to the next level.”

NEC Achieves TX-RAMP Level 2 Certification for Suite of Biometric and Face Recognition Solutions

NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a provider and integrator of advanced IT, biometrics, communications and networking solutions announced that several of its top-ranked solutions have received Level 2 Certification from the Texas Risk and Authorization Management Program (TX-RAMP). The certification encompasses Integra-ID, NeoFace Reveal (NFR), and Insights for NEC Advanced Recognition Systems (ARS). This expanded certification underscores NEC’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions with a rigorous security-by-design approach to ensure privacy for all.

Integra-ID provides users with multimodal biometric search and storage services. Designed for accuracy and speed, data and transactional archiving, and auditing and reporting, all with cloud hosting capabilities. Integra-ID is backed by a comprehensive range of tools for editing, selection, image enhancement, comparison, and verification.

NeoFace Reveal is a face recognition application providing government agencies the ability to identify facial images (ranging from good to very poor quality) by performing either a one-to-many (1:N) search or one-to-one (1:1) verification against a database of any size. NFR can be used by government agencies to support investigations and detect and prevent fraud. NFR stands out for its ability to provide reliable face recognition, capturing, enhancing, organizing, and matching video and graphic images to specific individuals.

Insights including Archive, ERT and Workbench, is a super suite of applications for system administrators to manage, operate and use the NFR system. From a secured web browser, administrators can ascertain overall system status from a customized dashboard, manage user accounts, monitor processed transactions and perform auditing and reporting of all user activity and events.

The TX-RAMP certification is a significant achievement for NEC, as it highlights the company’s dedication to meeting and exceeding the stringent security and compliance standards set by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). The program, established in response to Texas Senate Bill 475 passed during the 87th Legislative Session, sets forth a standardized approach for the security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring of cloud computing services processing state agency data.

TX-RAMP security criterion requirements are derived from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP is a United States federal government-wide compliance program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

“We are proud to receive Level 2 Certification from TX-RAMP for our ARS Law Enforcement Biometric Product Suite. This recognition reflects NEC’s unwavering commitment to providing advanced and secure solutions while prioritizing privacy,” said Gary Lac, NEC vice president of solutions development, ARS. “We understand the importance of safeguarding sensitive data, and this certification reinforces our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of security and compliance in the industry,” he added.

With the TX-RAMP certifications in place, NEC is well-positioned to support state agencies and law enforcement in Texas, ensuring that they have access to cutting-edge technology that meets the rigorous security standards mandated by the state.

Chess Dynamics Hawkeye MMP Delivers Electromagnetic Compatibility Performance 

UK surveillance specialist Chess Dynamics says their vehicle surveillance system, Hawkeye MMP, has demonstrated electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) performance as part of the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency’s (NDMA) Observation Targeting and Surveillance Systems (OTAS) project. 

In meeting the requirements set by the NDMA, Hawkeye MMP has demonstrated its ability to meet the needs of the modern battlefield and survive, communicate and operate in the tough electromagnetic conditions. 

The unique requirements set out by the NDMA included standard EMC tests such as MIL-STD461 and specifically the precise Nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse (NEMP). This was alongside more bespoke requirements to ensure compatibility with the vehicle’s existing high frequency, very high frequency and ultra-high frequency radio systems without any internal frequency interference.

Chess developed a multi-staged approach which included board-level testing, meeting UK-based EMC qualifications and complete vehicle system tests, as well as designing novel modular solutions to pass the NEMP testing at the first attempt. Steps were taken alongside the NDMA so that requirements were met while ensuring environmental and usability needs were not impacted. 

“The demands of the battlefield today are increasingly complex and require adaptable, high-performance solutions. The NDMA required a technology of this kind that also met its own strict EMC requirements, and we are thrilled to have succeeded in this. This is a major achievement for Chess, and we believe this technology will be vital as resilience becomes increasingly important to surveillance capability,” said Chris Henderson, Electronics group leader at Chess Dynamics.

“Chess Dynamics was able to provide a solution that passed the EMC tests, proving Hawkeye MMP’s ability to perform while remaining resilient on the battlefield,” according to their client. “We look forward to our continued work with Chess as we look to continuously improve our surveillance capabilities.”

INTERPOL Unveils New Biometric Screening Tool

INTERPOL Unveils New Biometric Screening Tool

In mid-November, a fugitive migrant smuggler was subject to a police check in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina with a group of migrants crossing the Balkans towards Western Europe.

Wanted on organized crime and human trafficking charges since 2021, the smuggler presented himself as a fellow migrant under a false name, using a fraudulent identification document to avoid detection.

The police check, however, was part of an INTERPOL operation that saw the Biometric Hub — a new tool that checks biometric data against the organization’s global fingerprint and facial recognition databases — used remotely for the first time.

When the smuggler’s photo was run through the Biometric Hub, it immediately flagged that he was wanted in another European country. He was arrested and is currently awaiting extradition.

The operation, which took place across six countries in the Adriatic region, was part of INTERPOL’s Hotspot initiative, which uses biometric data to help detect foreign terrorist fighters and criminals who try to cross irregular border points.

“A fugitive can change their name and many aspects of their appearance to try and escape justice, but it is difficult if not impossible to change your biometric data. This is why biometrics remain the most reliable way to identify someone,” said Cyril Gout, INTERPOL’s director of operational support and analysis. “The Biometric Hub helps law enforcement officers know right away whether the person in front of them poses a security risk. This is especially important in situations where travel documents are not available or trustworthy.”

Underpinning the BioHub is a ‘biometric core’ that encompasses INTERPOL’s existing fingerprint and facial recognition together with a matching system based on technology developed by the company IDEMIA.

An effective tool for screening individuals crossing a border, the BioHub can also be used for regular police operations within a country.

Over the next two years, the tool will be progressively rolled out to border points and frontline officers across INTERPOL’s membership.

The system is expected to perform up to one million forensic searches per day, including fingerprints, palm prints and portraits.

Previous checks against INTERPOL’s biometric databases were subject to separate, multi-step processes that systematically included human handling or review, meaning that any hits would not be immediately flagged to the requesting officer.

With the BioHub, officers can submit data to both databases through a single interface, which swiftly provides results and allows users to monitor the status of their requests.

Human review from INTERPOL’s forensic experts is only required in cases where the quality of the captured biometric data is such that the match falls below a designated threshold.

Crucially, the BioHub also further improves data governance, in line with INTERPOL’s robust data protection framework.

Biometric data run through the Hub in a search is not added to INTERPOL’s criminal databases, is not visible to other users and any data that does not result in a match is deleted following the search.

The Biometric Hub was rolled out in October and is now available to all 196 member countries.

Wearable Tech Mitigates First Responder Exposure to Chemical Threats

Emergency responders are dispatched to calls for situations ranging from industrial, agricultural, and commercial accidents to five-alarm fires. In these moments, they are relied upon to render aid swiftly and efficiently, even if it means risking their personal safety. This is why the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is leading a new effort to arm responders with state-of-the-art technology that alerts them to toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) that may be present in the field.

Their goal is to support the development (and, ultimately commercialization) of a cost-effective, wearable, customizable, and reusable chemical sensor that allows first-on-scene personnel to respond to a wide variety of emergencies quickly and safely.

“Our emergency responders need to have the most up-to-date technologies and tools that will enable them to safely answer these calls,” said Kimberli Jones-Holt, S&T program manager. “We are collaborating with several partners to ensure that they have access to these resources, and also enhance existing technologies to provide more convenient and affordable safety capabilities.”

Thanks to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, S&T joined forces with TDA Research inc. (TDA), the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Fairmount Fire Department in Golden, Colorado, and additional government and private stakeholders to develop a portable chemical sensor that detects TICs (e.g., hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, phosphine, hydrogen cyanide, chlorine, and nitrogen dioxide) that firefighters and other similar emergency responders could potentially be exposed to during a response. Following the successful completion of a Phase I contract, TDA was awarded an additional 24-month SBIR Phase II contract to develop a simple low-cost wearable sensor badge, and then continued further development of their technology through a 12-month SBIR Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CRPP) award.

“TICs are commonly found in many industries and are often used as a crucial part of manufacturing, refining, and other commercial processes and related activities,” explained Jones-Holt. “As a result, when industrial or chemical emergencies, fires, or natural disasters occur, it’s very likely that firefighters and other first-on-scene personnel will encounter them when they respond to calls in the field.”

“TICs can be easily inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin, causing irritation of the nose, mouth, throat, eyes, and skin,” continued Jones-Holt. “Depending on the type of TIC, prolonged exposure can be deadly. Therefore, it’s crucial that emergency responders are properly equipped to deal with and be protected from them.”

To meet this crucial need, TDA developed and deployed prototype wearable chemical sensor badges with firefighters and emergency responders at the Fairmount Fire Department to demonstrate and verify that the badges could quickly and accurately alert users to the presence of dangerous TICs. These devices are meant to improve situational awareness and enable responders to leave the scene before any harmful exposure and associated injuries occur.

“My hope is that these wearable chemical sensor badges will prove to be an effective and comfortable tool that increases situational awareness and supplements the current chemical and gas sensors that are being used by our first responders,” said Jones-Holt.

Most existing chemical and gas sensor technologies are expensive and bulky, which is not ideal for agencies that often contend with tight budgets for equipment and limited space on vehicles. TDA’s wearable sensor badges will be much more portable, cost approximately $200 each, and utilize easily replaceable colorimetric chemical sensor strips (costing ~$5-10 each). They will also run on rechargeable batteries, giving first-on-scene responders an affordable, cutting-edge tool that can be used repeatedly in the field.

The badges use specialized sensors that sample the air to detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, phosphine, hydrogen cyanide, chlorine, and nitrogen dioxide at trace levels. If any TICs are detected, the sensors will send alerts to the wearer via a colorimetric sensor cartridge strip that displays up to six different colors (depending on which TICs are present) on a LED screen on the front of the badge. The screen will automatically indicate which chemical or gas has been identified, and how much of it is present in the environment (in parts per million). The badge also has vibratory and auditory alarming features that will automatically be triggered during an exposure as well.

DHS Awarded Patent for Homeland Explosive Consequence Assessment Tool

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through its Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), was awarded a U.S. patent for the Homeland Explosive Consequence Assessment Tool (HExCAT), protecting the Department’s invention and guaranteeing that the technology can help fulfill the DHS mission for years to come. HExCAT is a unique modeling system that helps emergency managers prepare communities for large-scale, scenario-specific hazards and predict consequences and potential outcomes. The tool is derived from the mandate given by Homeland Security Presidential Directive-19 Combating Terrorist Use of Explosives in the United States, and was developed to ensure we are better equipped today to handle the threats of tomorrow.

“With the HExCAT, response planners are now equipped with a fully integrated system that predicts the likely consequences of an explosion, including human injuries, structural damages, and medical responses, helping us evaluate a range of what-if scenarios and focus our energy on the most effective means of prevention, detection, mitigation and response,” said Helen Mearns, deputy director of S&T’s Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC).

HExCAT provides emergency managers with capabilities to streamline decision making and emergency response planning, by, among others, identifying vulnerabilities at large venues, devising effective evacuation procedures for facilities, and planning routes for relocating large groups of people to medical facilities. Additionally, HExCAT houses a library of 28 different types of military and homemade explosives, including various fuel and oxidizer combinations that amplify explosive effects, and provides unique insight into potential worst-case outcomes. The tool can also model different scenarios in diverse indoor and outdoor public spaces to more accurately predict how these scenarios will play out and how to adapt in real-life situations.

S&T’s CSAC developed the HExCAT with support from the Directorate’s Explosives Threat Assessment Program, Battelle, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Leidos, and the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH).

Train Derailment Spurred Evacuation of Kentucky Town

A chemical fire caused by a train derailment in Kentucky has been extinguished. People had been encouraged to evacuate but now are able to return to their homes, according to rail operator CSX late last week.

“The fire is completely out.” CSX spokesperson Bryan Tucker said in an statement. The train derailed on Wednesday November 23, at about 2:30 p.m. The incident occurred near Livingston, Kentucky.

CSX were worked to clear the train cars and material at the site. The derailment and spilled chemicals started a chemical fire earlier in the week and prompted evacuations in the small town.

State officials said Friday they were monitoring the air for traces of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, but so far there had been none detected at the derailment site or the nearby town of Livingston since Thursday morning. The fire was extinguished on Thursday.

“We’re now able to get in and begin safely removing cars,” Joe McCann, director of emergency management and hazardous materials for CSX, said at a briefing Friday. He said an access road was built to reach the derailment area and the crashed train cars were removed.